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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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Help Keep Families Close

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 20-10-2016

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What child doesn’t love McDonalds? I know my two are very enthusiastic when we say we’re going there. You can’t beat a Happy Meal if you’re 6 or 2. But what they don’t realise about McDonalds, and what some of you might not realise either, is the awesome charity work they do as well as feeding us.

McDonalds currently has 14 Ronald McDonald Houses in the UK – houses which provide free accommodation to parents and families when children are in hospital. “Ronald McDonald Houses give families the chance to remain close to their child whilst they are in hospital. Their location, as close as possible to one of fourteen specialist children’s hospitals across the UK, means that families can be by their child’s bedside in a matter of moments, whilst maintaining a degree of normal life and reducing emotional and financial strain. To ensure a sense of closeness, where possible, a direct telephone line connects families’ rooms in the Ronald McDonald House to their child’s ward.”

Needless to say fundraising is vital to the work McDonalds do, so this Saturday October 22nd they are having a charity day at branches up and down the country. McDonalds will be turning Jungle Themed and selling special cuddly toys for £2.50 each, with every single penny going straight to the charity. These toys will be purchasable from the counters, kiosks and drive thrus of most branches across the country, and there will also be collection boxes available. Last year they raised a fabulous £3.9 million so hopes are high for beating that this year.

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Campaign ambassador Jeff Brazier has created this video about the appeal, so please do take a look.

Four new houses are desperately needed, and McDonalds hopes to get them opened in the next few years. Days like Saturday are only going to help, but there are other ways to get involved if you head over to the RMHC website. Here you’ll find out more details about the fourteen existing houses, as well as stories from families who have used them.

Please please head down to your local McDonalds this Saturday. Every penny really does count, and the effects will be life changing for families.

This post was sponsored.

#Review: Hotter Ribble Boots

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 27-01-2016

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You’ll remember that I went to a blogger event at the new Brighton branch of Hotter a few weeks ago where I was lucky enough to leave with a pair of Ribble boots. They are officially my favourite shoes ever.

Hotter-Ribble-SussexMummy

They are superb for the school run where I walk on pavements and paths which have been covered in puddles, mud and more recently ice.  My feet are warm and cosy, but because the shoes are breathable they aren’t uncomfortable. The Gortex feature is amazing – they’ve got wet, splattered in mud, and hit with hailstones. They still look brand new. I could walk for miles in these boots, and no doubt I probably have.

But I don’t just wear them on the school run. I’ve worn them to go out in the evening – they are smart enough for dinner with friends and drinks at the pub. They get worn when I go food shopping, they get worn when I go into town. I wore them at Toy Fair this weekend, where comfortable shoes is vital for the miles you walk around the Olympia. I’ve worn them every day since I got them, in fact the only time I don’t wear them is when I’m at work, though you’ll still find me in Hotter shoes.

Hotter-SussexMummy-Collage

I remember thinking Hotter was very much an old persons shoe, and to be fair to them I think several years ago their styles were certainly ones I was more likely to see my mum in than me – no offence mum! Nowadays their styles are a lot more fun, their colours vibrant, their designs altogether more trendy. If you head on over to the Hotter website today you’ll find there is a huge sale still on, and lots of great bargains to be had. I’m off their now to lust after the Antoinette’s I tried on in Brighton. Maybe its time to treat myself…

 

 

#Review: Specsavers

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 03-12-2015

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Glasses have been a part of my life since I was about seven. I feel like I’ve always worn them, and I can’t imagine not doing so. When it comes to getting my eyes tested I have no particularly loyalty to any opticians. I have a lovely friend who works in the optician business, so I tend to go wherever he is, ensuring a nice chance for a catch up, and more often than not a lovely bit of discount!

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We were recently contacted by Specsavers to talk about their new Frozen glasses range for the children, and to offer us the chance to get our eyes tested and get some new glasses. I’ve only recently changed my glasses, so instead I sent Daddy in to get tested and to hopefully pick out some stylish new frames. Here’s how he got on…

Booking: “I booked my test using the online system – you pick a location and a preferred time, and they call you back to confirm or with available options. I’d have preferred to see what appointments were available online, but the system does seem to work, and the staff were very helpful.”

Appointment: “My appointment was on time. The staff are all really friendly and helpful, but you do get passed from colleague to colleague, each doing their own specific task. By the end you feel a bit like you’re on a conveyor belt! I thought the tests were all very thorough and everything was really well explained to me.”

The Glasses: “I opted for the Buy 1 Get 1 Free offer which you can never go wrong with. I chose a designer pair for work, and something a bit more different for weekends. There was a good selection available and plenty to choose from – certainly something for everyone. My prescription was right on the border so I had a few issues with my new glasses, and it turned out that I didn’t really need to change. The staff were really helpful and understanding about my problem, and everything was sorted out without quibbling.”

Conclusion: “I’m really happy with my new glasses and I was pleased with the service I received from Specsavers. I rarely visit the same opticians for every test – it tends to just be wherever can fit my in when it’s convenient – but I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Specsavers in the future.”

Sussex-Mummy-Frozen-SpecsaversWhilst we were in the opticians I had a quick look at the new Frozen range.

Specsavers has launched a collection that is perfect for fans of Disney Frozen. There’s a variety of styles to choose from, featuring cool characters Elsa, Anna, and Olaf. There are four different frames for children to choose from in wintry tones of purple, blue, and grey, all designed with a flex hinge to fit well with active young ones.

All Frozen frames come with SuperTough lenses and are a part of our kids’ 2 free pairs offer.”

It would have been brilliant if Little Dude had needed glasses as he would no doubt have made a beeline for the new Olaf design. He is a massive Frozen fan – it is on daily in our house – and he loves Olaf. I think the range look really cool – a great homage to the movie, but with a good subtle inclusion of the characters images.

I think its clear to see that Specsavers will be somewhere we’ll be visiting again in the future, especially when the children inevitably need to join the glasses wearers of the family.

An Aldi Summer…

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 24-09-2015

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At the start of the summer I was contacted by Aldi, asking if I’d be interested in looking at some of their products. I’ve been fascinated by the rise in popularity of the so called budget supermarkets, so have always wondered what the quality is like and whether it genuinely tastes as good as the pricier alternatives. Before the delivery my only real experience of Aldi foods was the five bird roast they did a few Christmas’ ago so I thought it was about time I tried more.

I was interested in looking at their store cupboard items – those ambient bits and pieces that you have in the cupboard all the time. The selection I received was mind-blowing, partly in volume but also in pricing. We received pasta sauces, dried pasta, rice, curry sauces, croissants, tea bags, conserves, coffee, washing powder, fabric softener, popcorn, crisps, baby wipes, nappies, fruit pouches, rice cakes and raisin boxes. The first thing I noticed was the cost. A truly vast amount of products and it all came to a little under £40. Truly a bargain, but what for the quality. Cheap is all well and good, but only if the quality is there.

I have been working my way through the samples all summer, and I have been very impressed. The pasta sauces have been delicious, and make a great fast dinner for the boys. The croissants were huge and tasted so buttery, and with the strawberry conserve they made a perfect Sunday breakfast. Little Dude’s favourites were definitely the rice cakes. We were sent a couple of packets and once they were opened it became clear I’d have to start nipping to Aldi to keep the supply up.

Aldi-SussexMummy-Collage

The baby wipes are superb – slightly thicker than your average wipes which make bottom cleaning easier. The curry sauce is a new favourite and a great alternative to a takeaway or ready meal, and the pasta and rice were good quality and good value. To be honest the only disappointment were the crisps, but that was purely a flavour problem and not the quality of the crisp.

So will I be doing my weekly shop at Aldi from now on? No, I won’t. There isn’t one handy enough and to be honest I get my food shop delivered as I can’t face doing it with a small child in tow. Will I pop in to an Aldi now and then to pick up a few bits? Without a doubt.

Read On – Get On

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 15-09-2015

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We love books in our house. The boys get a story read to them every night before bed, and their bookcase is bursting with books for them to choose from. Little Dude has a small box of books in his room which he can pick up and look at, and there’s also a pile of them in the playroom. You’re more likely to find him with his head in a book than Little Man, but with him now off at school I expect his interest in books will explode as he learns to read.

Learning to read is such an exciting adventure for children, opening up a whole new world for them of independence and discovery. I couldn’t imagine not being able to read, but research has found that many children are leaving primary school unable to read well, and struggle to ever catch up. The Read On, Get On campaign is out to fix that, and ensure that by 2025 all primary school leavers are confident readers. I can’t wait to help and encourage Little Man on his reading journey so I’m a big supporter of this campaign.

Read On. Get On. aims to get all children reading well by the age of 11. Our reports set out this challenge and some of the solutions:

1. Our Read On. Get On. launch reports for England and Scotland, (September/November 2014) explore how reading well can help children escape poverty

2. Reading England’s Future (November 2014) maps how well the poorest children across England read, showing that some parts of England are doing vastly better than others at getting the poorest children reading

3. The Power Of Reading (April 2015) sets out our policy calls for the government in England to unlock every child’s potential through reading

4. Ready to Read reports for England and Scotland (June 2015) highlight the importance of closing the gap in early language skills so that every child can read well. Ready to Read reports for Wales and Northern Ireland are coming soon in September 2015.

So what can you do? Well there are lots of activities you can do with your children to encourage language and reading, and most of them are just simple day to day things which you no doubt do anyway. The Read On, Get On website is packed with tips but my top three are:

  • When talking with your child or looking at books together, help them to focus on what you are saying: Turn off the TV, the radio or the mobile. Removing distractions helps your child.
  • Conversations are more than questions and answers. When you talk to your child, try to comment on what they say and do. In the park, say something like “I love going down slides”. Then wait to hear what your child says next.
  • When sharing stories together, comment on what your child shows an interest in. Repeat back to your child what you know they meant, even if they didn’t say it quite right. This helps encourage them to keep trying.

The campaign was launched recently in Brighton at Costa Coffee, one of the partners. Janet Ellis hosted a gathering where books and reading was the talk of the day.

Janet Ellis-Costa Storytelling-Sussex Mummy

I’m looking forward to supporting both my boys on their journey to becoming readers. Let’s all help our children to Read On, and Get On!

Toys at House Of Fraser

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 09-09-2015

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Dare I mention the C-word yet? No? Still too soon. Okay…

Well next month Little Man turns FIVE. Five. That’s huge. Now he’s off at school I can spend some time thinking about his birthday. It’s on a weekday so he’ll be at school on the day, but we’ll no doubt be doing something at the weekend before. There will invariably be a Minecraft theme to the event – Nana is already looking at potential cake ideas on Pinterest (whoever showed her the internet has created a monster…!) – and I suspect a lot of his presents will be related to his favourite game too.

I’m usually pretty organised when it comes to the children’s birthdays. I’ve got a present list written up already which I’ve shared online with grandparents and aunties and uncles so they know what he wants and what he hasn’t already got. When it comes to Minecraft there’s a huge range of things available, particularly when it comes to the plastic figures, so I’m keen to avoid duplication. I’ve got one set hidden away for him already, and I must admit it came from an unlikely source.

Where do you do your toy shopping? The high street toy shop? The supermarket? From the comfort of your sofa? I’ve done all three in the past, but one place I never thought to look for toys until now, is House Of Fraser. No really. When I think of House Of Fraser I think designer clothes, grand beauty departments, and gorgeous home furnishings and appliances. I think of a large department store which is definitely one for the adults, but it would seem I was wrong.

House Of Fraser actually has a large toy section, and it stocks lots of your favourite brands and characters, including the insanely popular Minecraft. Now I think we already have about half the items they stock – believe me there is Minecraft stuff everywhere in our house – but I was really pleased to find lots of bits we don’t have. This set of the animals from the game will be part of Little Man’s present pile this year, and they’ll go wonderfully with the other figures he already has.

Minecraft-Animals-Set

That’s a pig, a sheep, a cow, a wolf, an ocelot and a chicken in case you’re not Minecraft savvy.

For me the most important part of shopping online, which is how I did my House Of Fraser shop, is the ease of navigating the website and finding what I’m after. The website is laid out clearly so you can dive straight in to the toy department and find what you want, whether its a certain brand or just toys for certain age. So if you have a birthday coming up, or you’re forward planning for that winter event we’re not mentioning just yet, maybe its time you took a look at House Of Fraser. You might find yourself as surprised as I was.

#Review: Table Table’s Spring Menu

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Days Out, Foodie, Information | Posted on 15-06-2015

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Last weekend we were invited down to Treacle Mine just outside Eastbourne, a Table Table restaurant, to review their new spring menu. Never one to turn down a free meal, we were happy to oblige and drove over for a family lunch. The restaurant itself is in a great location on the A27 near Polegate. Its at a services with a Premier Inn next door along with a petrol station and a McDonalds. There’s a good sized car park and the restaurant has tables both indoors and in their garden.

TableTable-TreacleMine-SussexMummy

We decided to jump straight in at the main courses so I ordered one of the new Gammon Chicken and Pea Pie’s. It came with green beans, mustard mash and gravy.

TableTable-GammonPie-SussexMummy

As you can see the food was beautifully presented on a long white plate. I was very excited when it arrived as it all looked and smelled delicious. The pie itself was nice, but I wasn’t blown away by it. It was good pub grub, but it wasn’t as flavoursome as I’d hoped and the jug of gravy was essential as it was a little dry. The mustard mash was incredibly smooth, but sadly lacking mustard as it didn’t taste of anything at all. It was all perfectly edible but a little disappointing.

Daddy ordered the Streaky Bacon and Cheese Topped Chicken Breast.

TableTable-BaconCheeseChicken-SussexMummy

Much less creativity with the presentation here, but to be honest I’m not really looking for decorative arrangements when I eat my lunch. The chicken breast came with chips – or the option of a jacket potato, peas and barbecue sauce. Daddy enjoyed his meal and thought it all tasted really nice. It was, once again, good quality pub food. Nothing out of the ordinary or particularly exciting, but thoroughly enjoyable.

For the boys we chose two meals from the children’s menu. I was very impressed with the children’s menu as they could practically build their own meal. They had a choice of mains, and then could choose two side dishes. Little Man went for the Penne Tomato Pasta – always a winner with him – and his sides were garlic bread and tortilla chips. He ate absolutely everything and kept telling me how lovely it was. Little Dude had the new Cod Cubes – effectively fish fingers but in cube form – with chips and vegetable sticks. There was no fish left by the end of the meal, and he’d made an impressive dent in the chips too. Vegetables are always a bit tricky with him but Daddy and I nibbled our way through his side and it was all lovely and fresh.

For dessert I had the new After Eight Sundae which was vanilla and chocolate ice cream mixed with pieces of After Eight mint, topped with cream and drizzled in After Eight mint sauce, with another whole After Eight stuck in the top for good measure. It was delicious! Effectively a mint chocolate chip ice cream sundae, but considerably more interesting. I’m never one to resist After Eights. Daddy had his favourite dessert of Banoffee Pie which he finished off in no time at all. There were fresh bananas sliced on the top which were really nice, and it meant we could try and slip a bit of fruit into the children! Little Man had the Mini Chocolate Challenge for his dessert. This was a pot of chocolate dipping sauce, some vanilla ice cream and a pile of marshmallows. In all honesty I think he was pretty full from his main so ate a couple of marshmallows and declared he’d had enough.

Good quality basic pub food – precisely what you’d expect from this style of chain restaurant. Nothing massively overwhelming, but good all the same. Definitely a good place to visit with children as their menu was well thought out. Would I go again? Possibly not to this one as its a bit far away. If we were ever visiting something nearby we might pop in though. If I ever see another Table Table restaurant, yes I’d probably give it a go as I’d be able to rely on decent food and menus we could all pick from.

Find YOUR nearest Table Table here.

Are YOU bathroom proud?

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information | Posted on 11-06-2015

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There are some truly random surveys out there aren’t there? I wonder who on earth comes up with the questions sometimes. For example I just read an article about how people in Sussex and Kent are the most bathroom proud in Britain according to a survey done by UK Bathrooms. People are spending around £25 every month on cleaning products because they feel judged by visitors on the state of their loos.

What. On. Earth.

Toilet-SussexMummyYeah okay if people are visiting I do blitz the rooms they are most likely to stumble into – the kitchen, the lounge, and the downstairs bathroom – and I hide all the surplus junk and carnage in the rooms upstairs. So this will probably involve running around with the hoover, relocating the dust, and squirting some toilet duck down the loo. But do I spend £25 a month on cleaning products?

I have three bathrooms in my house – you wouldn’t think a 3 bed house would need so many would you – and my cleaning product arsenal for these rooms consists of toilet ducks, cleaning wipes, some kind of spray cleaner, and a loo block of some format. Under the sink in my kitchen I store the cleaning products for the rest of the house – again more cleaning wipes, another multi-purpose spray cleaner, something to clean the carpet, and a can of furniture polish which I suspect has more dust on it than the items its meant to be cleaning. So if I was to replace every cleaning product I have I might spend £25… but every month? I highly doubt it. But then again… I’m not much of a cleaner. Just ask my husband.

So yes DO make an effort to tidy up before people visit, and if that includes spending hours sterilising your bathroom so be it. But seriously, if your visitors are judging you on the state of your toilets, maybe you need to get yourselves some better visitors.

 

 

Feeding Time

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 03-06-2015

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I’d never really appreciated the comment “No two children are the same” quite so clearly as I have since Little Dude was born. He turned one a couple of weeks ago – mind blowing – and he is so different to his older brother in so many ways. He took eleven and a half months to start sleeping through the night consistently – his brother did it in four. He will only sleep on a mattress on the floor – his brother loved his cot. He is into EVERYTHING – we barely baby proofed with his brother. And he insists on feeding himself – Little Man was blissfully and cleanly spoon fed.

Meal times are just chaos. He has an incredible appetite and he will try and eat pretty much everything. Everything needs to be cut into bite-size pieces and put on a mat on the table so he can help himself. An awful lot goes in, and rather a lot goes on the floor. At the end of an average meal the area around his highchair and this mat are like a battleground. Tonight we’ve had pasta bolognese and needless to say everywhere – including his gorgeous face – is a rather amusing shade of orange.

Clean up is a mission, and its essential for me to clean his mat and anywhere on his highchair that he might drop food and then pick it up again to eat with something safe. After every meal I wipe down his chair and his mat with a cleaning wipe – these things are brilliant and perfect for quick yet efficient cleaning. Once a week – or sooner if things get a bit apocalyptic – I get out the big guns and grab a heavy duty trigger spray and blitz the area. Like I said though, I want to use something powerful and something safe, so my weapon of choice is the Power & Pure range from Dettol.

Dettol is a brand name all parents know and trust. We’ve used their wipes in our kitchen and bathrooms for years. The Power & Pure range is ideal for the eating area though as it provides impressive cleaning ability without leaving behind any chemical nastiness that you wouldn’t want your little one digesting.

I also use their No Touch Hand Wash system at my kitchen sink. The kitchen is, obviously, where I prepare all the family meals and the endless supply of snacks for my two permanently hungry boys. For the protection of my children I need to make sure my hands are squeaky clean and free from any nasty bacteria so washing my hands before preparing food with this nifty device is essential. The sensor ensures it dispenses just the right amount to thoroughly wash your hands and I love the fact it doesn’t drip like manual dispensers tend to.

Dettol-SussexMummy

How do you deal with meal time messes? Most days I generally consider letting him eat outside…

My New Office

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Foodie, Information | Posted on 16-02-2015

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I’m sure I’m not the only blogger who spends most of their time working on their laptop on the sofa in the lounge. Whilst it may be the comfiest place for me to blog from – except perhaps led on the bed – its not the most convenient. Having no proper location for working makes the process that bit harder, with paperwork and notes often getting lost and misplaced, and reminders and deadlines being frequently missed. Living in a three bedroom house with no available spare rooms makes an office out of the question, but my husband made a suggestion for somewhere in the house which could be my work space, and whilst I thought he was slightly crazy when he initially made the suggestion, it is working really well.

Our kitchen has bench tops all the way around with cupboards fitted beneath most but not all of them. Under the section that doesn’t have cupboards you’ll find our kitchen bin, our Little Helper, and the vacuum cleaner. That stretch of bench is something of a dumping zone, with post, bags, shopping and letters from preschool generally get lost in the muddle. You’re probably thinking I’m not the tidiest of house wives and you’d be correct! “Stick your laptop on there and create a mini office. Obviously you’d have to tidy it first.” I suspected it was just a ploy to get me to tidy up but I went with in and decluttered before popping my laptop on the new clear bench and moving the kitchen phone next to it. Since then I’ve added a fab bar stool which I got for Christmas – blogging stood up is not comfy at all – and there is always a vase – okay giant jam jar – of flowers to brighten the place up a bit. Yes there’s still piles of paperwork but the rule is that if its on the desk its important so I keep track of what’s there and I’m yet to lose anything in the carnage. I think.

The great thing about my new office is that my laptop is permanently turned on so I can dip in and out of blogging when I get chance, and I can look things up or reply to emails whilst I make dinner or cups of tea. I can’t blog to any kind of schedule anymore as Little Dude doesn’t understand the concept of a routine, but this setup means that when I do get time to myself, whether it be 5 minutes or one of the rare two hour naps he takes, I’m ready to go.

The bad thing about this setup however is that I’m in the kitchen. Now whilst that’s handy for cups of tea, its also a little too handy for food and I’ve been finding myself grazing as I blog. The biscuit tin is a little to handy and this isn’t helping my vague resolution to watch what I eat and start exercising ever. I decided that what I needed was an office snack box. Something I could pop on my desk – somewhere around the clutter – and fill it with healthy things to eat whilst I sit here. So I went on the hunt for healthy snacks that didn’t taste like cardboard, but aren’t too strict. I’m after a balanced healthy diet. I’m not necessarily looking to count calories and all that – I just don’t have the time to worry about everything I eat and double check whether I’ve enough points left in the day to enjoy it guilt free. Luckily for me the new Good & Counted range of snacks from Asda was on hand to provide me with tasty treats.

The Good & Counted range include a selection of tasty lentil crisps in some really interesting flavours. I was sent a multipack of their Flavours of the Mediterranean and Flavours of Asia to test out, along with some Savoury Popcorn to try out. My favourites have to be the Mediterranean lentil crisps. They’re nice and crunchy which I like in my crisps, but the flavours are also delicious. I think the Seasalt & Summer Herb were the nicest. The Flavours of Asia sounded a bit odd to me, but they were also reasonably tasty. The popcorn was a bit of a disappointment. I found them to be a bit small and hard and the flavours weren’t all that nice. The snack range also includes more traditional crisps, rice cakes, cereal bars and crispbreads which I think I’ll be popping on to my next online shop and adding to my snack box.

Kitchen-Office-SussexMummy

So with my box – okay pile, but I will get a box – of healthy snacks and my new found love of hula hooping my New Years resolutions aren’t off to a bad start. Of course there’s still chocolate biscuits lurking in nearby cupboards and sneaky cakes in a tin of the shelf next to me, but I guess that’s just a hazard of having your laptop set up next to your KitchenAid.

Where do you blog?