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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

In the Carrot Patch Activity

This easy activity for kids is fun and it uses their fine motor skills!



My kids are too cute. In the warm months, they attack my flowers with the cutest dramatic play sessions. The flowers are carrots and they are farmers, anxious to share their crops!

With that kind of imagination, it is hard to get irritated over it. I thought maybe we could keep the carrot patch fun going, long after they had picked every stem.

This activity comes together fast! All you need is a box, some orange and green cardstock and some glue. A utility knife or box cutter will be handy as well.

Cut carrot shapes from the orange paper.
Glue green bits to the top, to resemble a fresh carrot.
Cut slits in the box, making them a tiny little bit wider than the carrot shape.
Slip the carrots into the slits and let the kids pick them and plant them.
This is great for fine motor and dramatic play, and it just might save the flowers, but I am not counting on it!



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Swap This for That

Are you trying to save some money? No matter whether you are looking to put away some pennies for a rainy day or you want to treat your family to a vacation, you need to be dedicated and disciplined if you are to reach your saving goals. However, finding the spare money in the first place can often be the challenge. Read on to discover some clever swaps you can make in your day-to-day life to save some money.

  1. Swap your standard light bulbs for energy saving light bulbs - Energy saving light bulbs may cost a little bit more to purchase, but when you consider the fact that they last ten times longer, you see where the savings are to be made.
  2. Swap your canteen lunch for a packed lunch - You will be shocked by how much money you spend on lunch every week if you buy it. Even if you get a meal deal from a nearby supermarket, it quickly adds up. Instead, make your own lunches. Not only will you be able to save money, but they will taste a lot nicer too. Here are some delicious recipe suggestions to get you started.
  3. Swap your expensive TV subscription for Netflix - Do you pay a lot of money for TV channels? If so, go back to basics, and invest in Netflix instead or another online subscription service.
  4. Swap your manual payments for direct debits - A lot of businesses prefer you to set up a direct debit with them, and so they will offer you a cheaper rate if you do so. Not only this, but by setting up a direct debit, you make sure you do not miss any payments, which could result in a fine.
  5. Swap branded products for supermarket own brands - You can save a lot of money when doing your grocery shopping by going for a supermarket’s own branded products, instead of buying popular brand names. You will often find that there isn’t much difference in terms of taste, but you will make a big difference to your bank balance.
  6. Swap your car for a scooter - You can save a considerable amount of money by swapping your car for a scooter. Firstly, by selling your vehicle and buying a scooter, you will immediately have access to a large chunk of cash that can go into your savings, as scooters are much cheaper to buy than vehicles. However, you will also be able to make ongoing savings as well. After all, it is much cheaper to insure and road tax a scooter than it is a vehicle. Calculate the savings you will make every month, and put the money aside. This is especially recommended for families that have two vehicles; it is unlikely that you need both.
  7. Swap your monthly insurance premiums for annual payments - If you pay insurance premiums on a yearly basis instead of monthly, you will be able to lock in a reduced price.


Make the seven swaps mentioned above and put the savings you make into a separate account; you will soon see the money mount up!
Monday, May 29, 2017

13 Must Try Jalapeno Recipes

There is nothing like the powerful punch of flavor that a simple jalapeno can bring to any recipe or dish! This collection of recipes includes some fantastic options to spice up your meals and add a delectable spicy flavor to the dinner table.



I can't wait to try the Bacon Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese! I can tell you from personal experience that the Jalapeno Popper Spread is fantastic. You will love it spread on crackers, dipped with chips or on a sandwich as a spicy and creamy spread to take the experience to a new level of deliciousness!

If you have a favorite recipe making use of the gorgeous little green pepper, be sure to give me the scoop in a comment! I am always looking to try something new and tasty!


Jalapeno Artichoke Mac n Cheese

Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Black Bean Burgers

Bacon Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese

Cheesy Jalapeno Corn Cakes

Pineapple Jalapeno Salsa

Jalapeno Popper Bread

Jalapeno Popper Wonton Cups

Loaded Jalapeno Bites

Cheesy Jalapeno Mushroom Bites

Jalapeno Popper Pizza

Jalapeno Popper Chicken

Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball

Jalapeno Popper Spread

Which one of these dishes will you try first?



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Essential Items That a Good Chef Needs to Have


This post contains affiliate links.
Essential Items That a Good Chef Needs to Have


Imagine yourself cooking a four-course meal for Christmas dinner with bacon wrapped dates, a beautiful fresh kale salad, a juicy honey glazed ham, and a mouth-watering chocolate trifle for dessert. This is fine dining at its best, but to make this incredible meal you will need some essential cooking tools to get the job done.
The essential items every chef needs are sharp kitchen knives, a potato masher, measuring cups, bib apron, Silicone cooking utensils, a bread knife, and a colander.

Kitchen Knives
The most important item in every kitchen are the knives. A sharp knife is a difference between a beautiful entrée and a squashed ugly piece of meat. A good knife will easily slice right through meat without pressing out any of the flavorful juices. Having a sharp knife will also save you from cutting a finger chopping food, as dull knives tend to slip while cutting making them harder to control.

Potato Masher
This is an essential item because of the time and energy it will save you. There are few things worse than trying to make mashed potatoes without a masher. This strong piece of metal should have a solid easy to grip handle that won’t leave you with a blister.

Measuring Cups
Many recipes call for an exact amount of an ingredient so it does not overpower the rest of the meal. You should purchase measuring cups of various sizes so you don’t have to waste time calculating a dozen small measurements. Make sure to purchase mixing bowls with measurements on the side so you don't have to transfer everything after it’s been measured.

Bib Apron
A bib apron is an essential kitchen item because it protects you from hot materials and keeps your clothes as clean as possible. Working in a kitchen there are several things that can go wrong and leave you with severe burns. Don’t risk a late-night hospital visit because you didn’t wear an apron while boiling a pot of water.

Silicone Cooking Utensils
If you own non-stick pans, then you must invest in silicone cooking utensils. This is extremely important because metal utensils can scrape a non-stick pan and the Teflon material will end up in your food. These materials are not intended to be digested so it’s in your best interests to avoid the toxins and use silicone materials.

Bread Knife
You will want to invest in a quality bread knife for the same reason you should use sharp kitchen knives. Even the sharpest kitchen knife will not cut as cleanly as a serrated bread knife. The best part about bread knives is that they are very cheap, so buy one and never squash your bread again.

Colander
As a chef, you will inevitably have to boil something for most meals. Therefore, it’s important to have a colander handy at all times. Don’t forget that when you are using a colander you are dealing with extremely hot materials and you should always wear protection on your hands.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bucket List Budget Tips

This post contains affiliate links.
Do you have any dreams or goals in life? Perhaps you want to travel more, meet a celebrity, or pass that exam? Sometimes we list our aspirations and wants as a way to motivate us to achieve them. You might call this a bucket list or even a to-do list. Whatever you call it, ask yourself when you’re going to cross everything off. Keeping a list isn’t the same as completing the list!


Of course, most of the things we tend to put on a bucket list cost a lot of money to achieve. This can be a huge obstacle, and that’s why bucket list items rarely get crossed off. So what are you going to do about that? If you’re looking for ways to fund your dreams, then why not create a budget that will help you save up to achieve them?


Budgeting Basics


Always start with what you NEED to spend. Sure, you might want your hair colored at the salon each month. And maybe you like having a new outfit for Saturday nights in town. But if you don’t NEED those things, don’t put them in your budget just yet. Stick with the basics. Groceries, rent, heat, light, essential travel, and loan repayments all need to be budgeted. Many of these costs could be reduced a little too. Use discount opportunities like coupons and promo codes from CouponSherpa.com, turn the thermostat down, and walk instead of driving.




Saving


Now you know how much you need to spend, figure out how much more you want to spend. This can be as much or as little as you have left from your salary. What you have left over after that can go into a savings account to fund your bucket list items. Sounds easy? Always plan for emergencies. Have a small pot leftover to cover those unexpected expenses. Things like the car breaking down, and appliances needing to be replaced, or a big birthday bash always creep up.




How Long Is This Going To Take?


To find out how long it will take you to save up enough to cross something off your dream list, you need to know how much it will cost. It’s going to cost you more than the ticket price. Many bucket list items like vacations and buying a house always cost more than the purchase price. There will be excursions, souvenirs, food and drink to consider while you’re away. And moving house comes with lots of additional expenses like property lawyers, survey costs, and removal vans.



Once you’ve figured out how much you need to have to achieve your goal, divide that figure by the amount you’re putting into your savings account each month. This is the number of months it will take to save up enough. If you feel it’s too long to wait, then see if you can save a little more each month. You might get a second job, or sell some unwanted items to boost the pot. Don’t forget you may be eligible for pay rises along the way to help you save a little more too. What’s on your bucket list?
Monday, May 22, 2017

7 Delicious Ways to Stay Hydrated

The days are getting warmer. Let's cool off with an infused water recipe that will hydrate you and offer a delicious fruity flavor to your summer days!


Infused water is the perfect way to beat the heat while adding a delicious touch of flavor to your summer drinks. These recipes are some of my favorites and I couldn't wait to share them with you. With recipes as easy and delicious as these, drinking more water is just a tasty sip away

Strawberry Basil Lime Water
Kiwi Blackberry Water
Chia Lime Water
Cucumber Watermelon Mint
Apple Cinnamon Detox Water
Cucumber Lemon Water
Strawberry Lemon Water

Which of these is your favorite? Do you ever make infused water to keep your family hydrated? I would love to hear what fruits you like to include!
Saturday, May 20, 2017

Easy Rain Drop Craft

Spring is here and we have been trying to make the best of the rainy days that comes with the season. Harper and I thought a raindrop craft would be the perfect way to spend the last rainy day we had. This was perfect for my 3 year old. Oh, who are we kidding?! I had a lot of fun with it too. I mean, there is glitter involved!


This craft was so easy, yet so engaging!
All you need is:
A pair of scissors
A few sheets of blue paper
glue
glitter




Begin by cutting a drop shape 


Next have your toddler or preschooler liberally apply glue to the paper.



Next invite the child to shake some glitter on the drop!


And there you have a way to add a little sparkle to any rainy day, regardless of the season!

This was a 5 minute craft, it took very little time to assemble, but it completely engaged my little one! We love easy paper crafts for those hey, let's make a craft moments.

Some not to miss restaurants in Manchester

Some not to miss restaurants in Manchester
The restaurant scene in Manchester is as upbeat as before even though some may wonder why the Michelin award has remained elusive. There were 1800 restaurants in Manchester in 2015, and by the end of 2016 another 125 have come up in Greater Manchester. Surely, there are many new places that you might like to visit and could find it somewhat difficult to make a choice. To help you in selecting the restaurants of your choice, go through the ones that get a mention in this article. These are some of the best restaurants in Manchester, and you should step in to verify what makes these places so much attractive.
Scene Restaurant
Spinningfields, the premium district for food and drink has added a new restaurant to the long list of food joints. The Scene Restaurant that opened barely two years ago is exclusively a place to enjoy the vitality and energy of the Indian sub-continent. Be ready to pamper all five senses when you visit the area. The smell, touch and looks of the place, as well as the delicacies served, will excite your nerves, as you get ready to pamper your taste buds with the tongue-tingling dishes. The freshness of food, its vibrant colours and the aroma of spices are irresistible attractions. Get a taste of Indian street side food that finds a place of honour in the menu albeit slightly modified.
The Restaurant Bar and Grill
The sprawling restaurant spreads over three floors including the terrace and is located near Albert Square on John Dalton Street in the heart of the city. The view of the suspended staircase is an architectural wonder that takes off from the long bar. The ground floor is for casual dining, and the formal restaurant is on the first floor. The attraction of the terrace has increased ever since the construction of a retractable roof to allow guests enjoy the place without having to worry about weather conditions. On the second floor, you will find the Private Dining that gives you all the exclusivity that you expect.
La Bandera
This restaurant specialises in Spanish food that is not only authentic in its cooking and taste but is prepared with the traditional philosophy of Spanish food that revolves around keeping it simple, maintain freshness and make it delicious. Located in Manchester City Centre, you can get the traditional Spanish dishes that will take you to the sun-soaked sea sides of that country that are storehouses of mesmerising foods.
Mr Cooper's House and Garden
This restaurant is a different place altogether with a dining room that offers different dining experiences under one roof. The dining room design has recreated a garden complete with a gazebo, birdhouses and trees and the use of green and white in the colour scheme provides the naturalness to the place. The menu is as imaginative as the setting and the decor of the site and keeps changing with seasons to maintain its freshness. The making of drinks by using a Rotary Evaporator adds to the uniqueness of the bar.
About the author – Sam Kingsley is a foodie first and then an author. His penchant for food has resulted in his writing a few cookbooks. He is on the advisory board of Gourmet Guide UK that lists all restaurants in the UK.
Monday, May 15, 2017

The Foodies’ Cheat Sheet For Preparing Ingredients Like A Pro

For anyone who’s a keen cook, a big part of cooking is preparing the ingredients to go in the dish. Of course, you can pick them up from the supermarket ready-prepared, but this costs more and takes away from the experience of cooking from scratch. This means that for anyone with a passion for food, learning to chop, slice, and dice ingredients with speed, ready to put into a recipe is of the utmost importance.


The good news is that preparing foods, from herbs and vegetables to meat and fish is much easier than you would think. It’s just a case of understanding how to use your kitchen tools properly, from your knives to your food processor, to ensure that your ingredients are properly prepared and ready for you to cook with. With that in mind, below are some handy cheats that will get you preparing food like a pro.


cutting veg.jpg


What tools are a kitchen must-have?


To be able to prepare ingredients like a pro, having the right tools is a must. So if you don't’ already have a selection of tools for preparing your food with, it could be time to do some investing. The question is, what does every kitchen need?


A quality set of knives and a knife sharpener are kitchen essentials. If you watch any professional chef prepare their food, you will notice that they always use quality knives, like the ones that Kamikoto create. Top chefs don’t settle for any old tools; they ensure that they have access to the very best pieces of kit, and so should you.


No cooking enthusiast should be without a food processor. Sure, some people see using a food processor as cheating but it’s not, it can actually be an incredibly useful tool to have in the kitchen, as it can really help to speed food preparation up.


What are the best methods for preparing food?


Mincing: Mincing vegetables and herbs, from garlic and basil to ginger and onion, helps to infuse flavor into the entire dish. There are various ways that you can mince herbs and vegetables; you can use a garlic crusher to mince garlic, for instance, while you can use a fork to mince larger ingredients, like onions. All you do is press the fork down onto the vegetable until it splits into pieces, then turn the fork the other way around and do it again - simple.


Julienning: This type of vegetable preparation means slicing the vegetables into long, thin batons. This cutting technique is actually much easier than it seems, it’s just a case of getting the movement and angle just right.


Chopping: Adding chopped vegetables to a range of different dishes can help to not only add flavor but also to change up the texture of the dish. When it comes to chopping vegetables, there’s a different method for each vegetable. Take onions, for instance, peel off the skin, chop off the neck of the onion and slice it lengthways down the middle. You can then place the flat surface down and slice each half following the natural shape of the onion's layers.


Dicing: For adding a little extra texture to your dishes, dicing is the perfect way to prepare ingredients for your food.  And it’s easier than you would think, you use the same process as chopping, you just continue to cut the vegetable into smaller and smaller pieces, until you are happy with the size of them.

There you have it, a cheat sheet for preparing ingredients like a pro.
Thursday, May 4, 2017

7 Appealing Asparagus Recipes

Asparagus is one of those veggies that brings a lot of flavor to any meal! Discover 7 new ways to cook this favorite green!



I could eat asparagus for every meal and never regret a single bite of it. I love it every way you can serve it and if I dine at a restaurant that has it on the menu, please bring me 2 sides of asparagus!!

I found 7 recipes that I can't wait to try and I think you are going to love too! From a delectable bacon wrapped asparagus to a yummy creamy version with rice! If you have a great recipe for asparagus, please share it with me in a comment!


Cheesy Asparagus Straws
Cream of Asparagus Soup
Creamy Asparagus Rice
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
Shaved Asparagus Pizza
Ham and Asparagus Spaghetti
Asparagus Salad

As if that isn't enough delicious ideas, you also might like my fully loaded breakfast burrito recipe, it has asparagus in it too!!


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Easy Dipped Shortbread Fingers

This post is part of a sponsored collaboration with Walker's Shortbread.

Spring is here and that means it is time to pack dinner into a picnic basket as often as possible and head out for an al fresco meal with the kids! We usually take cookies along on these occasions for dessert, but last week, I wanted to take that to the next level of delicious.



Walker's Shortbread is the natural choice for my family, we love the buttery flavor of shortbread, but spring days require something super special; after all, we are celebrating the return of feathered friends, the sunshine, and shorts, and we are sending our bulky coats back to the closet from which they came!


Within a few moments time, I took our favorite shortbread to new heights with 3 simple ingredients and very little effort! To make our picnic a nutty sweet affair after the meal had ended I offered my family Walker's Shortbread dipped and drizzled with white and dark chocolate and coated in crunchy walnuts. This was maybe the best ending to a meal that I have ever whipped up in under 3 minutes!



To begin, I laid out parchment paper and spread my shortbread fingers on it.

Next, I melted a fine brand of  White Chocolate and a decadent brand of dark chocolate. I drizzled the melted goodness directly on to my shortbread.

Next, I sprinkled on chunks of raw walnuts and followed up with the dark chocolate.

Allow this to cool and harden for about 30 minutes. If you are in a rush, pop the cookies in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Serve or store in a sealed container for up to 4 days.



Bucket List for Icelandic Adventures

As spring fades into summer; I seem to have developed an itch to travel. My daydreams lead me to plan trips I may or may not take. My suitcase seems to be calling for me to pack and set out for an adventure. My feet long to touch unfamiliar lands, my ears are eager for new accents, my palate pleads to taste undiscovered cuisines.


A trip to Iceland has been on my bucket list for as many years as I can recall. As a little girl, I would sit at my globe, letting my fingers spin and my eyes land on a new place, when Iceland blinked on my radar, my curiosity was piqued and has lingered over the decades.


Iceland is a unique island close by the arctic circle. The Gulf Stream location gives Iceland surprisingly mild winters and picturesque summers. The temperature is cool year round in a deliciously refreshing way! In the summer the temperatures range from 55 to 77 degrees, which sounds decadent to this girl from a hot and humid region!


Iceland brings glaciers, snow, and ice to mind, naturally. While taking in these sites are likely at the top of your agenda, the options for fun that await you in this beautiful land appear endless. They are so varied that I am convinced anyone and everyone can have a blast in Iceland!


To give your vacation a great variety of extreme sport and leisure, I have compiled a Bucket List for Icelandic Adventures that you will want to pin to your travel board to refer back to later!

http://www.iceland.is/press-media/photos



1. Take in the Northern Lights
From September to April the extreme dark of the Icelandic skies offers a light show unlike any other, as it is put on by mother nature! Several hotels in the area feature special wake-up calls to help you take it in, without giving up a full night of sleep. Setting your camera at a ten-second shutter is a great way to capture the moment with lovely photos.


http://www.iceland.is/press-media/photos?page=4



2. Horseback Riding
The Icelandic horse has been preserved through isolation for many years. This is a breed of horse unlike any other as it is smaller, sturdy and surefooted on the rough terrains of Iceland. This is the perfect way to take in the landscape while enjoying the big personalities of these unique animals!


3. Get Festive
In the summer months, Iceland basks in long hours of daylight. The locals take the opportunity to gather and celebrate. You can find festivals all summer long dedicated to music, fashion and film. This is a fun way to take in the culture.


4. Go Whale Watching
The cold water of the ocean is home to some amazing marine animals. A trip to Iceland almost requires a whale watching excursion! During the summer months, more than 20 species of whales are visible in the oceans on either side of the island of Iceland. You can also expect to see sharks, birds, dolphins, seals and more.


5. Take a Glacier Tour
Iceland has an ice cover of 10%, which means that you can get out on the ice for a tour that will take your breath away and inspire so many future daydreams at any time of the year.  You can go for as little as 2.5 hours, or spend a week and a half exploring the glaciers and gems on Best Tours of Iceland.


6. Hit the Pools
Iceland is known for its amazing geothermal pools and spas. It is a tradition and a total treat for your mind, body, and soul. It seems so unlikely, but Iceland sports a beach with white sand and warm, geothermal water. It is a must see and must experience, especially after you have been on a glacier tour or horseback riding!

http://www.iceland.is/press-media/photos



7. Cast Out
If there is a fishing enthusiast in your traveling party, you must make time to cast out in Iceland! The fish one might catch include: trout, salmon, and arctic char to name a few. From pond fishing to river fishing to cold water ocean fishing, Iceland has it all for the angler in your life!


8. Savor Local Flavor
Icelandic cuisine has changed over the years, but you can still find and expect classics like head to tail fish with cabbage, a lot of lamb, and so many delicacies! To keep with modern times, vegetarian options are plentiful in Iceland too.



If you have visited Iceland, please be sure to leave a tip with your suggestions on what you would add to our Bucket List for Icelandic Adventures. If you are planning a trip, what are you looking forward to the most? The food, the extreme sports, or the weather? For me, it would be a combination of those things with a healthy dose of shopping and maybe an extra day at the Geothermal Pools and Spas!