Saturday, 30 April 2016

No Bake Fruit and Nut Bars

Dried fruit is something I always have in my breakfast cupboard. I love it chopped on porridge, mixed with my cereal or even to munch on when I feel peckish. One of my family's favorite snack is these dried fruit and nut bars, they are easy to make and perfect for breakfast or snacks.

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No Bake Fruit and Nut Bars
Healthy and delicious fruit and nut bars that are perfect for snacks or healthy breakfast.
  • 6 Dried Apricots
  • 6 Dried Dates
  • 3 Dried Prunes
  • 6 Dried Figs
  • 1 cup mixed Finely chopped dried pineapple, dried papaya and dried mango
  • 1/2 cup Coarsely chopped Almonds and cashew nuts
  • 1 tablespoon Golden Syrup
  • Vanilla essence 1 teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
  • 100 g White Chocolate
  • For Garnish 1 tablespoon finely sliced Pistachio nut and Almonds ( I have coloured my almonds red by putting the sliced almonds in a ziplock bag with a couple of drops of food colouring and shaking the bag. Transfer the coloured almonds on to a tray with kitchen paper and allow to dry. Use them for garnish as required)
1. Line 2 mini loaf tins with cling film and keep aside.2. Make sure there are no stones in the dried apricots and dates .3. Add the apricots, dates, prunes,figs, dried pineapple, papaya and mango in food processor/ blender (I used my Optimum 9400) and pulse to chop the fruit. Do not make a paste of the fruit, it needs to be in small pieces.4. Transfer the chopped fruit to a large bowl, add to it the almonds and cashnuts, golden syrup,cocoa powder and vanilla and mix everything together.You should me able to pinch a fistful of the mixture and it should hold shape.5. Press the mixture tightly in to the two mini loaf tins lined with cling film and pack the mixture tightly, smoothing it with the back of a spoon.6. Break the chocolate into small pieces and put it in a glass microwaveable bowl, Microwave the chocolate in 30 second intervals until the chocolate is melted.7. Pour the melted chocolate on top of the fruit and nut mixture and tap the tins to smooth out the chocolate.8. Sprinkle on top of the chocolate the sliced pistachio and colourd almonds.Place the loaf tins in the fridge to set for 2 hours.9. Remove the loaf tins from the fridge and using a blunt knife run it around the edge to release the fruit and nut bars. Lift the bars out using the cling film.10. Once de moulded , discard the cling film and slice the fruit and nut bars into 6 mm thick slices using a sharp knife.For a smooth cut, use a serrated knife dipped in hot water .
Prep time: Cook time: None Total time: Yield: 18 slices

For more healthy on the go snack ideas check these recipes out:

I used my Optimum 9400 to chop my fruit and nuts  . The Optimum 9400  is a powerful blender that grinds, pulses, chops, grates, cooks and makes icecreams at a flick of a switch. You can read a review about my Froothie Optimum 9400 here.
At the moment  the Optimum 9400 is available at a special offer introductory price of £339 which includes a 30 day trial so that you can return it back postage free if you are not totally satisfied with it. I love options like this because I feel that if I do invest in a gadget I want peace of mind that I can be100 percent happy with it.Also being a brand ambassador for Froothie any one purchasing through this post can you can get  Extra 2 years warranty to get this use the code "Special Ambassador Offer" on purchase

Friday, 22 April 2016

Review ~Bissell Proheat 2x Revolution deep cleaner.

I strongly believe in eating healthy, exercising and living a balanced lifestyle where there is plenty of work and play too. Sometimes despite doing all these things, we develop allergies and intolerances to foods, environment and our surroundings. This is exactly what happened to me. After returning from a holiday to the Lanzarote, I developed a really bad dry cough that lingered and lingered for almost three months, My head and my ribs ached from the constant coughing. The doctors told me I had inhaled the sulphuric volcanic air and that was what had caused my symptoms.
The cough did finally subside but it followed with continuous rhinitis(runny nose, sneezing at the slightest dust particle and a feeling of tight chest.) As a result I was diagnosed as having Asthma and was prescribed an inhaler. 

To help keep my symptoms at bay, I started to deep clean my house, my bedding, pillows and carpets. The carpets were the most difficult as I always had to call out a carpet and upholstery cleaning company to come and clean them . This was also very costly. I had never thought that I could clean my carpets and upholstery myself, that is until the lovely people at Bissell invited me to a roundtable discussion with hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley. The discussion was on  good carpet hygiene, why we should wash our carpets and upholstery regularly and highlight the hidden germs and bugs that are invisibly harbouring amongst the deep fibers. We even saw under a microscope real bedbugs which was gruesome.

I was shocked to learn that many people don't replace their duvets or pillows in a lifetime, nor do they ever clean their carpets or furnishings. Imagine all the food, dirt, mud  pet messes, and accidental accidents from young children all trodden into your carpets day in and day out. Many people wear outdoor shoes in the house, shoes that have walked on all sorts of debris which is later wiped on our carpets.Your carpets may look clean on the surface but you cannot see the invisible dirt and grime that’s underneath in the layers. What we need is a simple carpet cleaning solution that we can use in our home regularly and that is exactly what Bissell have come up with.  They have introduced the Bissell ProHeat 2X® Revolution™ deep cleaner. 
This is an upright carpet cleaner with some great features:
  • It out cleans the leading rental in deep clean mode with Professional formula provided
  • Express clean mode for a dry time of about an hour for ultimate convenience     
  • HeatWave Technology™ to keep water at a consistently warm temperature for optimum cleaning results
  • Weighing just 8kg it is lightweight
  • Low profile foot makes it manoeuvrable under and around furniture and easy to use
  • The 3.7L tank capacity means fewer trips to the sink to empty and re-fill
  • Dual Dirt Lifter Power Brushes™ with 12 rows of bristles for a deep down thorough clean
  • It can be used to spot clean upholstery and area rugs as well as carpets.
  • Easy to assemble and comes with accessories in neat string bag for easy storage.

After learning so much about carpet Hygiene, I was excited to learn that Bissell wanted me to put to test the  ProHeat 2X® Revolution™  on my carpetsI always thought my carpets were well maintained, they were only cleaned about 9 months ago but you will be surprised what actually came out of them after I cleaned them with the  Bissell ProHeat 2X® Revolution™ . ( Please do not judge me on the results, I almost feel ashamed to think how much invisible dirt there still was.

I am going to share some before and after pictures of my rug and carpets. The ProHeat 2X® Revolution™  can be used on two modes the deep clean and the express clean. I chose to use the express clean mode as this means that the carpets are dry in an hour.

Can you imagine if this is what came off my carpets which were only cleaned 9 months ago what must be harbouring in carpets that have never been cleaned ?

This is my rug before cleaning and after after. There was a noticeable change in the colour of the rug.

                          Before cleaning                                              After Cleaning

This is the result from the brown carpet in the hallway, it had a lot of grime as its right by the front door where the majority of dirt comes off our shoes as we enter the house.

                     Before cleaning                                                      After cleaning

Finally this was the results from my daughter's bedroom carpet which had a few stains on it. Since I used the express cleaning programme, the stains did lighten but did not complete come out. I think they needed a deep clean programme. However the overall appearance of the carpet was noticeably cleaner and brighter.

I am now a big fan of this awesome carpet cleaner, it's small enough to store, light enough to lift and 
it was really easy to assemble and operate.The ProHeat 2X® Revolution™ is priced at £299.99 and available from, Currys, Amazon, Argos, Lakeland, JD Williams, Fenwick. 

With the cleaner you also get a   Trial size (8oz) bottle of Wash & Remove + Antibacterial formula which works exclusively with the ProHeat® 2X Revolution™ to kill odour causing bacteria and permanently remove spots and stains and a trial size (8ox) bottle of Professional formula

I was sent the The ProHeat 2X® Revolution™ to test it on my carpets by Bissell. I was not asked to write a positive review. All the opinions and results shared in this post are of my own experience from taking the challenge.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Mini Beasts and Garden Notebook and Bookmarks #Bostik Challenge

It's April and soon it will be summer. I love the lighter evening and I am looking forward to spending more time outdoors in the garden. Our garden is our favorite place in the summer, we have taken great prode to look after our patio, decking and fencing and take care to keep it maintained, painted and kept weather proofed. We have lots of garden furniture and have invested a good quality decking to place it on.There is nothing more pleasurable  than dining al fresco and enjoying the lovely scents and colours of flowers in my garden.

This month's Bostik Bloggers challenge is on the theme of Minibeasts and Garden.

It has become a ritual now that each month when I get the Bostik box, I have my niece Little M over so we can create a craft together. She loves crafting and it's great to spend time with her, it also gives her parents some time to themselves too.

This week Little M came over on Sunday afternoon, the weather was lovely so we spent some time playing ball in the garden. We also picked some flowers and then Little M and I made a smoothie which we do always do as Little M loves choosing the ingredients and putting them all in the blender.

 I had some frozen mixed berries in the freezer. So we added a handful of mixed berries( blueberries, blackberries, raspberries) in to the blender together with a pot of cherry yoghurt and blended the ingredients. The smoothie was a little sharp so I added a squeeze of honey and it was perfect. The colour of the smoothie was really pretty. I did not have a chance to style the photo  but managed a quick click before it was drunk. We enjoyed the smoothie with some iced ring biscuits.

The Bostik box this month had lots of garden and minibeast themed craft stuff. We were looking through the box and found some lolly sticks and some really nice flowers and foam insect cut outs so we made little book marks with them.

To make the bookmarks you will need:
2 lolly sticks
Stick on flowers
Stick on insect
Glue dots.

How to make:
1.Add glue dots to the back of the insect and stick it on the top of the lolly stick.

2. Add glue dots to the back of the small flower cut outs and stick them onto the lolly stick.
3. Add glue dots to back of flower motif and stick it onto the lolly stick.

I also found a notebook with a really plain cover sitting in my cupboard. I thought it would be nice for Little M to have it so we turned the plain boring cover into a pretty one using the items in the Bostik craft box.

To cover the book you will need:
I piece of green felt
Double sided tape
Some stick on mini beasts and flowers
Glue dots

How to make:

1.Place the book on the felt and measure the felt  and draw with pencil the exact size needed to cover front, back and spine of book.

2.Cut the felt out.
3.Stick double sided tape on the book cover  on the front , back and spice.

4.Stick on the felt so that the book now has a felt cover on it. Little M needed help with this stage as it was difficult.

5. Arrange the flowers  on the cover where you would like them and then using glue dots stick them on.

6. Arrange the mini beasts and stick them on.

Little M is really pleased with her bookmarks and book. She also made some more book marks for her mum and dad too.They were easy to make and fun.

The Items used to make all our creations were part of the Bostik craft box that we received this month.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Blog Props~ Floral china

It's been ages since I showcased my new additions to my prop collection. I have had some lovely variety of props that I have found from charity shops, ebay and also friends.
In my stash, I do not have floral crockery and I really wanted to add to my collection especially as recently I have been to a few afternoon teas and the beautiful crockery used to serve the food in was so gorgeous that it made the food and the tea that much more special and enticing.

This beautiful pottery collection of bowl, plate, jug, teacup, saucer and side plate were what I found on my two recent visits to a charity shop whilst dropping off some clothes I had. I always seem to de clutter but at the same time come back with more things, I cannot resist sourcing food props.

I love the fluted shape of the bowl and the floral design.Although the plate is completely plain the lovely green edging, its perfect for layering plates.

The sugar bowl too has a lovely fluted edging with a matching lid. It can be used with or with out the lid.

My favorite piece from the whole set is the jug, it too has the matching fluting on the rim and I can just visualise it on a  tea tray lined with crisp white linen napkin  or just used as a decoration on a window ledge with few wild flowers to brighten up any dull morning.

Unfortunately the set did not have a teapot or matching cup and saucer, but I must say I am really pleased with what I did buy as the whole set is in immaculate condition with no chips or cracks. I am really excited to feature these props in my post soon but for this I shall have to bake a cake!!!

A few days later I also found in the same shop this really pretty teacup and saucer and matching plate. I love the gold gilt trim around the top edge of the cup and on the handle and on the saucer. The matching plate also has a lovely gold gilt rim. Looking at these  makes me wonder how many afternoon tea settings they may have graced. 

Since I have only just acquired these pieces, I have not had time to feature all the crockery in my posts, however I have used the side plate in my Chocolate Brownie post which I shall post next week. But just so that you can see the usage of the plate, I am posting the photo below. Can you spot the plate in the picture???