Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Organic Instant Miso on the Go Review

Miso is a Japanese staple food and seasoning. It is a traditional remedy for digestive ailments and contains many beneficial amino acids, vitamins and minerals.

The product that I tried was Clearspring instant white Miso on the go with tofu. It comes in an individual sachet weighing 8grm, which is simply added to 160ml of hot water to make an instant portion and retails for around £1.29.

It is organic and suitable for vegans. Each block is freeze dried, locking in the nutrients and flavour.

I have never tried Miso before, so when I saw this, I thought I'd give it a go. On mixing, the Miso dissolves easily, and has a pleasant aroma - somehow it smells a bit like chicken soup. It has pieces of vegetables and tofu in, which compliment each other well.

Ok, now to the taste test. Stangely, it tastes a bit like chicken soup too. The vegetables are crunchy, the tofu is soft, which is a nice mixture of textures. The taste is rich and pleasing, but rather too salty for my taste. But then again, this is the nature of Miso.

I can see that this would make an ideal mid morning snack, and a small mug of it is surprisingly filling. But would I buy it again? No, I don't think that I would, purely because for 160ml, it is quite expensive, and as I say, I find it just a little too salty.

But if you see these little sachets in the supermarket, it's an easy way to try Miso. You might even like it.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Gourmet Garden review

Gourmet Garden's herb and spices range make cooking tasty meals easy.

Their herbs are organically grown and are simply washed, chopped, blended and packed into tubes to maintain all of their fresh taste and nutrition. Simply keep the tubes in the fridge for a convenient way to add fresh flavour to your meals. They keep their strength of flavour for months, making them both economical and convenient.

The tubes are available in most supermarkets, retailing at around £1.70 a tube.

They come in many varieties, including  Basil, Hot Chilli, Chives, Garlic, Chunky Garlic, Lemon Grass, Italian Herbs, Parsley, Coriander and Ginger.

They are also available in a new blends range, which includes Mediterranean, Moroccan and Thai.

I haven't yet had a chance to try all of the varieties, but so far my favourites are Ginger, Lemongrass and Garlic.

Last night for tea, I used the Ginger and Lemongrass varieties to make a sauce for chicken and it was delicious.

And during the week, I added the Garlic to a home made pasta bake, which everyone agreed tasted very good.

Overall I love these little tubes of flavour, and I will certainly experiment with adding them to dishes, and I will also try some of the gorgeous sounding recipes on Gourmet Gardens website.

So if you see these little beauties in your local supermarket, give them a go, you won't be dissapointed.

Gourmet Garden

Friday, 25 April 2014

Champneys Skin comforting products review

I have sensitive, dry skin and I am prone to allergic reactions, but I have never had a problem with any of Champneys products, of which I have tried many.

My favourite is the Skin Comforting range. I was lucky enough to visit Champneys Forest Mere many years ago and had a dry flotation treatment, which involved being slathered in Skin Comforting body butter, then being wrapped in warm towels and lowered into what is akin to a very soft water bed. It was so relaxing, and somehow a connection was made between the smell of the product and the relaxation of the treatment. To this day, the smell makes me feel instantly relaxed.

There are four products in the range. The 200ml shower cream retails at around £6, the 300ml bathing milk at around £8, 300ml of body butter at around £10 and lastly the small but mighty Miracle Balm is around £5.50 

All of the products are wonderfully moisturising and leave your skin soft and fragrant. The Miracle Balm is wonderful to use on super dry areas like elbows and knees and makes them feel instantly soft and smooth. I have used it on my dry feet too, although a word of warning - mind you don't slip if you then walk barefoot! As with most foot moisturisers, the best way is to slather it on and then put on a pair of cotton socks and leave it to do it's magic.

Overall, I love this range. My skin adores it and it smells heavenly. It is available from Champneys (resort shops and online) and most Boots stores.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Dyrham Park review

Dyrham Park is a manor house, park and gardens near Bath in Gloucestershire.

It is set in 270 acres of parkland which is home to a herd of fallow deer.

The house was originally built by William Blathwayt and the interior of the house has changed little in the last 300 years.

As the weather was so beautiful over the weekend, we decided to visit Dyrham park.

The main car park has plenty of space, so parking isn't a problem.

There is a shuttle bus which runs from the car park to the main house, which is ideal for people who are unable to make the 10-15 minute walk down the hill, or even for the return trip if your feet are rather tired.

We decided to walk down, taking a quiet route through the trees. The deer where feeding in this area, although they kept away from the main path. Part way down Miss Serendipity spotted an antler which had been freshly cast by one of the deer, which made her day. She asked one of the groundskeepers if she could have it and was told that that was fine.

We then visited the house, which is well worth a look around. It includes a fine collection of Dutch art and ceramics.

We than had a picnic lunch, followed by a wander around the formal gardens. Being spring, the bulbs gave a wonderful show. There are ponds, rich with water boatmen and pond skaters and a set of steps which the water cascades down and is a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by for a while.

Through into the orchard, are some bee hives, which we stopped to watch. The bees were very active, collecting the pollen from the multitude of flowers and tree blossom.

After this, we took a slow stroll back up to the car park. As it was Easter, there where many children hunting for the chocolate eggs which had been hidden around the park. They were also thoroughly enjoying running and rolling down the many hills.

Overall, we had a lovely day, and if you are in the area, I would recommend visiting Dyrham Park as a good family day out. There really is something for everyone.

Dyrham Park information

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Chocolate Chai Latte review

Chai Latte is a blend of tea, milk, spices and chocolate. It comes as a powder which is added to hot water or milk to make a drink. Around 3 teaspoons is the recommended amount for one cup.

It is 99% caffeine free, has around 91 calories per 20grm serving and is suitable for vegetarians. It retails at around £2.50 for a 250grm tub.

I decided to try the Chai Latte with hot water. First impressions were good. It was a rich, deep chocolate colour and the aroma was good - chocolate and spice.

But, on tasting, I found it quite a strange mixture. I like my tea to taste of tea and my chocolate to taste of, well, chocolate. I found it rather too sweet and it left my mouth feeling a bit thick. It was nice, but would I buy another tub? I think the answer would have to be no. There are others that think that this drink is wonderful, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. (pardon the pun)

If you like trying something a bit different, and quite like the idea of a mixture of flavours, then maybe it's for you. But personally, I'm off to put the kettle on for a nice refreshing cup of standard tea.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Hotel Chocolat You Crack Me Up Easter Egg Review

A few weeks ago, I was very lucky to win this Easter Egg from a fellow blogger. Mmmm free chocolate - lovely.

The egg is made of a mixture of milk and white chocolate and contains 12 smiley face pralines, happy chicks, bunnies and soldiers and altogether weighs 415 grm. The cost of the egg is £28 and it is suitable for vegetarians.

The box is lovely and sturdy and I'm sure that Miss Serendipity will have a use for it once all of the chocolate is gone.

So, on to the chocolate shapes inside of the egg. They are wrapped in tissue paper and stored inside the shell. The shapes will appeal to children, although youngest Miss Serendipity doesn't like praline, which the lighter smiley faces and the fried eggs contain. That's ok though, because luckily, I'm rather partial to it myself. The chicks are pure chocolate, the darker smileys are chocolate buttercream, the bunnies are caramel and the 'soldiers' are pure white chocolate. All are sweet and yummy, as you would expect.

And onto the shell. This is a marbled mix of white and milk chocolate. The chocolate is, as you would expect, creamy and delicious.

Would I buy this egg myself? I think the answer would have to be no. That is not because I dislike it, I like it very much. But at £28, it is way out of my price range to give as a gift. However, if you don't mind spending out on a special gift for a lucky person, then I'm sure that it will be received with glee and eaten with rapture.

I wish you all a very Happy Easter.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

YouGov Review

The YouGov panel is a worldwide community of people who like to express and share their opinions, and earn points along the way.

Panel members receive regular email invitations for new surveys and each time that you complete one, you earn points. Sometimes they also send surveys that don't have points but that enter you automatically in a monthly prize draw, with prizes varying from £2000 down to 200 YouGov points.

The surveys are varied and interesting, appearing in your e-mail inbox on a regular basis. Once your points total reaches £50, you can be paid via bank transfer.

There is also an option to fill in what YouGov call your Opigram, which gives you the option of sharing more about yourself and to build an ever expanding profile of things that are of interest to you. Although this section of the site is not mandatory. You can do as little or as much as you like.

Overall I like this site. I reach a payout around once or twice a year. I don't tend to fill in my Opigram, as I am more interested in filling in the surveys, which I find fun and interesting.

If you like filling out surveys, earning money, having your say and keeping up with the news, then give YouGov a try. I'm sure you will find it interesting.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Atlantis Cards Review

Atlantis Cards by Diana Cooper come as a set of 44 cards. They are designed to  provide insights and inspiration for your life, highlighting strengths and helping you to work with your weaknesses. The pack is priced at around £10.

These cards are more suited to somebody who has been reading cards for a while, as they do not come with an instruction booklet, like many other Oracle cards. Instead, there is a passage written on the reverse of each card, giving an outline of what the card may be indicating for a particular person.

I have read with these cards for many years now and have always found them intuitive and easy to use. There is a diagram included with them, giving suggestions of layouts, from simple 3 card spreads, up to more complicated, multiple card layouts for more advanced readers.

The pictures on the cards are colourful and attractive, but at the same time aren't too cluttered and busy.

They are the perfect size for shuffling and holding, being the same size as a standard playing card.

Overall, these are my favourite cards to work with, and I have a fair few decks. I find them easy to connect to and I have been told that the messages and guidance given through them are accurate.  They may not suit everyone, especially if you are new to giving readings, but if you've had some prior experience, then I can highly recommend them.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Qustodian review

Qustodian is a free service delivering offers and ads based on your interests and preferences, under your control, on your mobile phone.

 Apps are available for the following platforms: iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Java.

Once downloaded onto your device, you are in total control over when you choose to view ads and offers through the service. Entering your interests and preferences is easy and quick.

To view the ads, simply open the app, which then automatically downloads the latest content into the messages section, according to your interests. Click on the individual ads and you can read about the products and services, and visit external sites for more information. Each ad pays a few pence for a view, if you go on to download a recommended app, you can earn a little more. It's not a fantastic earner, by any means - I make around £2 a month, but it's a fun way to pass some spare time. Visit the My Yoad section of the app to check on your earnings. Once you have earned £10, you can cash out through either a bank transfer or Paypal.

Another section of the app is the deals section. This is where you can get deals tailored to your interests, giving you large discounts on the normal price.

Overall, the deals are good, but don't expect to get rich quick with Qustodian. But as you can view the ads and deals when it suits you, it's a good way to earn a few pennies in your spare time.

If you would like to give them a try, please could you go through this link, as it earns me a few extra pennies.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Valued Opinions review

Valued Opinions is a paid survey site. They offer varied and interesting surveys on a regular basis. Each survey pays from 25p up to £5, depending on the length.

Registering is quick and easy and only takes around 5 minutes, so you can be ready to start earning quickly. Valued Opinions will send  survey invitations to you by e-mail, or you can check on the site through your personal dashboard to see if there are any surveys that suit your profile.

Once you have reached a minimum of £10, you can cash out. There are various vouchers available including M & S, Sainsburys, Argos, and Amazon.

As with any survey company, there can be times when you dutifully fill in the first few pages of the survey, only to be told that you aren't suitable and you get screened out, which is always disappointing. But generally the surveys are interesting and varied.

I've been filling in surveys for Valued Opinions for many years now and manage to reach the £10 payout threshold most months. I usually opt for Amazon vouchers, which arrive as a code within an e-mail within a few minutes of redemption.

Overall, Valued Opinions is one of my favourite survey sites - and I'm a member of many. The survey cash mounts up quickly and the surveys are fun to do.


Saturday, 5 April 2014

Gravity movie review

Gravity is a 2013 sci-fi thriller directed by Alfonso CuarĂ³n.

It is set during a ficticious space shuttle mission. Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is an engineer on her first mission and is accompanied by veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney). Whilst they are on extra-vehicular activity, debris collides with the shuttle, damaging it irreparably. They are left adrift in space. Will they survive? Will they get back to Earth?

I'd seen trailers for this film and thought that it looked just the sort of movie that I would enjoy, so when it beckoned to me, I bought it.

I watched the blu-ray version and the graphics and special effects are stunning. The soundtrack is a bit odd at times, switching from music and kerbooms, to the silence inside of the astronaut's helmet. But I think that just adds to the tension.

The film keeps you on the edge of your seat from a few minutes in, right up until the last few minutes. The story is a little predictable, but still pulls you in.

If you enjoy a good sci-fi or thriller movie, then this film has both in spades. If you get the chance to watch it, I'm sure that you will enjoy it - if only for the stunning scenes of Earth from space.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Shaken Udder Milkshakes review

Shaken Udder was formed in 2004 by Jodie and Howie. Their dream was to produce flavour packed shakes using British milk and the finest natural ingredients.

Liking all things natural, (and being a big kid) when I saw these milkshakes, I thought I'd give them a try. They come in three flavours, Strawberry, Banana and chocolate and contain no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives and are suitable for vegetarians. A pack of three costs around £1.85 and they are available at most supermarkets.

The drinks are shelf stable, so don't take up valuable fridge space, although they do taste nicer chilled and can also be frozen, which works well as a cold pack for packed lunches. Shaken Udder milkshakes are 'School Approved', so there should be no problems with putting them in children's lunch boxes.

So, the important taste test. Because they are aimed at kids and contain no artificial nasties, they do not have the bright colours and strong tastes of other products. But, I like that. The flavours are delectably delicate, as are the colour of the shakes. The sweetness level is also just right. And what is lovely is that there is none of that horrible artificial aftertaste that comes from products that contain artificial sweeteners.

Overall, I would be very happy to serve these milkshakes to children both young and old alike. Many older people may prefer the stronger flavours and colours of more adult drinks, but if you like naturally flavoursome drinks that are also good for you and your children, then these get a big thumbs up.
British milk the credit it really deserves. Our flavour-packed shakes use only the best-quality fresh British milk and the very finest natural ingredients - See more at: http://www.shakenudder.com/index.asp#sthash.1G04khay.dpuf
British milk the credit it really deserves. Our flavour-packed shakes use only the best-quality fresh British milk and the very finest natural ingredients - See more at: http://www.shakenudder.com/index.asp#sthash.1G04khay.dpufv
Jodie and Howie
Jodie and Howie
Jodie and Howie
British milk the credit it really deserves. Our flavour-packed shakes use only the best-quality fresh British milk and the very finest natural ingredients - See more at: http://www.shakenudder.com/index.asp#sthash.1G04khay.dpuf

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Mexican Dave's Legendary Tortilla Chips review

I do like my savoury snacks, so when I saw these, I couldn't wait to tuck in.

The chips contain no MSG, artificial flavourings or preservatives and are suitable for vegetarians.

The flavour which I tried was Nacho cheese. They come in a big sharing bag weighing 225grm. That's enough chips for the whole family to enjoy. And at just £1 a bag, they won't break the bank either, so they're perfect for that movie night in.

On opening the bag, the chips smell nice and cheesy. But will they pass my discerning family's test taste?

In texture, they are what you would expect - dry and crunchy. Some are a little 'bubbled', but that doesn't really detract from the overall crunch of the product.

The cheese strength. Well, I like my cheese, well, cheesey and these chips fell a bit short of the mark in my opinion. As far as I'm concerned, you can't have to much cheese! But, if you don't like your chips too full on in the strength of taste department, then these will serve you just fine. And the bonus is, they are almost half the price of Doritos.

If they are going to be smothered in melted cheese or used with a dip, then these chips would suit very well and are a bargain price.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Candy Crush Crazy!

Having watched my family succumb to the addiction that is Candy Crush, a while ago I took the plunge and joined them.

To start with, I really couldn't see the appeal of the game. It was a fairly simple game, matching three candies the same to remove them and joining four in a row to make a stripy candy which will take out a whole row when it meets another two candies of the same colour. Match higher numbers to get wrapped candies, (kaboom) and spotty bombs. Then, match special candies together to get even bigger booms.

Each level has it's own requirements, either clear all of the jelly, bring down the ingredients, timed levels or special orders.

I was playing on my own for a while on my ipad, but then I was encouraged to connect the game to my Facebook account, basically because Mr Serendipity needed help to unlock a new world.

Well, that's where my addiction began. I could see where my Facebook friends had got to in the game, and I wanted to catch them up. Friendly rivalry? You bet!

Having whipped through the first few dozen levels, things suddenly started to get a bit more tricky. Some of the levels just seemed downright impossible! But, hey, my friends had obviously cleared them, so I just kept on plugging away. I could be stuck on some levels for days, but would I give up? Nope!

There is an option in the game to pay real money to buy boosters to make hard levels easier, but somehow, that feels a bit like cheating. Although, there have been times when I've been very tempted!!

There is a daily spin the wheel, where you can 'win' boosters. I try to remember to spin every day and save the boosters to use in levels that I am really stuck on. Although it's rather frustrating to use all of your precious boosters and still fail the level, but hey, that's the way the candies crush.

So, if my friends are getting bored with the notifications asking for help, then I'm afraid it's all your own fault. I mean, if it wasn't for you lot being so good at the game, I wouldn't feel the need to try to catch you up - but I do love you all really.

Whilst I'm typing this, I'm waiting for my lives to refill because I'm stuck again - on level 319. But, I'll get there, I'm chasing you good friends.