Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Film and Fajita night with Santa Maria

Fajitas are a firm family favourite in this house and regularly appear on our meal plan so when I was offered the chance by Santa Maria to have a family film and Fajita night I jumped at the chance! 

Last week a shiny red box was delivered to us and inside were all sorts of goodies to help us have a fun family afternoon.
We chose to watch Shrek as the boys have never seen it and it's been years since I watched it. So in the box was a Shrek DVD, fajita seasoning, corn and wheat tortillas, nacho rolls, salsa, guacamole and a jar of red jalapeños. 
Late afternoon on Saturday we all snuggled down on the sofa with blankets and a bowl of nacho rolls and popped the DVD on.
The nacho rolls are lovely, I am not a dip person so had mine plain but Phil and the boys are and enjoyed the salsa with theirs. Alex in particular loved them and ate loads!
 Shrek was as good as I remembered, I love that it has grown up humour to keep adults amused as well as potty humour for the children(and husbands!) and I can safely say Seb is now a fan of the green ogre so we will be getting the other films to watch too!

 After the film we headed into the kitchen for our fajitas. One of the reasons I love fajitas is that they are speedy to make which is great when you are cooking for impatient little ones. Including prep it took me less than 15 minutes to make them.
 I cooked off the chicken, along with peppers and onion and added the seasoning. Meanwhile the tortillas were warming in the oven wrapped in some foil. I used the medium seasoning which was just right for me and the boys, though I imagine Phil would have been happier with the hot one!
 We all tucked in and as usual the boys loved their fajitas, both had the salsa and guacamole on the side as dips and they emptied their plates. The tortillas were different to the ones we usually buy and they were really lovely and soft so i'll definately be buying those again.
We had a fab family afternoon and it's something we'll definately be repeating in future, especially with winter creeping up on us.

For more information on Santa Maria, take a look at their website or Facebook

**We were sent a box of goodies from Santa Maria for the purpose of this post but all opinoos are my own**

Benefits Smart Cards.. what do you think?

I don't usually blog about politics but yesterday I saw a tweet that made me really cross. It was referring to Iain Duncan Smith and the idea to pay peoples benefits using a prepaid card and limiting what it can be spent on so if someone buys something non essential it will be stopped. 

The government appear to hate people who claim benefits and sees them all as lazy scroungers and the likes of The Daily Fail and Channel 4 are happy to run with that idea by publishing benefits bashing articles and making programmes like Benefits Street. Of course there are some who do abuse the system but the vast majority don't. You know the people who aren't able to work due to illness or the people who have been made redundant after working in the same job for 20 years or single parents who have split from their long term partner, the person they thought they would be with forever. These people aren't some separate breed, they are just normal people and anyone could end up in these situations.

Anyway back to IDS and his 'smart' cards. It is currently being trialled on a voluntary basis before being rolled out. The idea is to stop people spending money on the likes of alcohol,cigarettes and gambling because of course only poor people do that. I can see how on paper the idea looks good but the flaws are plain to see. 
  • Where can the card be used? Will people be able to use it on market stalls(the cheapest place for fruit and veg and better quality) or local convenience stores(no need for public transport when you just need a loaf of bread). Doubtful, market stalls deal in cash. More likely it will be restricted to certain shops lining the pockets of big companies.
  • Could it be used online? I personally do my main food shop online as I find it saves money, I'm not tempted to buy extras because they're on offer and as we don't have a car it is far easier for us to have it delivered. When it comes to non food items better deals can usually be found searching online. 
  • Who decides what is acceptable to buy? Who determines what an essential is?
  • Could a black market be created for these cards? Or could those with a real reliance on alcohol or gambling turn to petty crime to get cash the way those addicted to drugs often do? 
  • What if there were technical issues? We have all seen banks have issues where people are unable to use their card.  Will people be left without food? 
  • If all money is on this card how will bills be paid? Will it again only be able to go that the card will track what p to certain companies or will small companies accept it too? If on a prepay meter we are back to the issue of local convenience stores accepting the card. 
  • What about the working poor, those who work but are on a low income and benefits top them up. The majority of people claiming housing benefit are actually employed. Are they allowed to choose how to spend their money or will they also be limited? Are they entitled to a drink at the weekend? 
Apart from the above it is demoralising and stigmatises people on benefits and gives them even more of a label. I really fail to see an economic benefit in this scheme and I worry that this kind of scheme will do more harm than good. If IDS is so worried about people dependent on alcohol why not increase funding to support them out of that dependency? But of course that wouldn't be such a popular policy with Tory voters.

I found this research from the Red Cross interesting. There is card system in place for Asylum seekers and this research highlights various issues, some I've mentioned above and some others too.

Imagine going into a shop and having to pay with this card, so everyone knows you are on benefits. Imagine being told after a long and crappy week that you weren't allowed a glass of wine or on your birthday you couldn't have a couple of beers because you were unlucky enough to be made redundant and have been unsuccessful at find another job as yet or because you work but don't earn enough. Yearly tradition of putting a pound on the Grand National? No, sorry you can't do that either.

What's coming next for benefits claimants? A big badge saying scrounger handed out when you dare enter the job centre? 
Perhaps we should trial the cards on MP's who are paid with tax payers money? I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be happy with that idea.

What do you think about the benefits smart cards?

Monday, 29 September 2014

Our Haven Holiday

Last week we headed off on a Haven break, this year we decided to go back to Primrose Valley(we also went last year) which is on the east coast near to Filey and is a pretty big park. 
This year we opted to stay in a Summer House and i have to say i was really impressed with it, immaculately clean and lots of space. It was great choice for a family with small children as there are radiators throughout(it gets chilly!) and the layout meant the kitchen was tucked out of the way. Seb thought the van was so exciting, through the eyes of a 3 year old it must be pretty amazing!
Sadly the weather wasn't on our side and we didn't get any sunshine at all(lots of mist though!) but it didn't stop us from having fun and exploring the park. 
In the day we swam(there are 2 pools), walked around the lake, fed the ducks and used the play areas. We even found a teepee to explore.
  In the evenings we headed to the amusements,soft play area and Jesters(the bar) where there is live entertainment. I will say i was a bit dissapointed with the amusements as quite a few of the machines weren't actually working and there was only one working machine to count tickets and that was constantly breaking too, Haven could definately do with replacing them to be honest as it was quite annoying.   Having said that the staff were friendly and quick to solve issues if they could.
Overall we had a fab few days, perfect for a short break with very young children. Seb is already asking to go back.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Ella's Kitchen Little Speakers' Corner

We all know that toddlers have strong
opinions(mine certainly do) and Ella's Kitchen have been asking them to
#StandUpForGoodSnacks by transforming Hyde Park's Speakers Corner into a
Little Speakers Corner.
Armed with megaphones, placards and toyboxes to stand on they took over and shouted about what matters to them when it comes to snacking, take a look at this (very cute) video!
Ella's Kitchen have a brand new range of snacks out for toddlers aged 12 months +, and my own little speakers will be giving you their opinions on these very soon.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

PicStick Review and discount code

I love taking photos, I use Instagram every day and our camera gets alot of use. I also love having photos displayed throughout the house.
PicStick gives you the chance to transform your favourite photos into magnets. Perfect to buy for yourself or as a gift these cute magnets are great to stick on the fridge or anywhere else that needs livening up.

The website was easy to use, you create an account, choose your photos(9 per sheet)then upload your photos from your computer, tablet, phone, Facebook or Dropbox and then simply checkout. My magnets arrived 2 days later which I thought was a really good turnaround time, they fit through the letterbox, so no worries about waiting around for a parcel. The magnets come as one sheet which can then easily be separated into your 9 magnets ready for sticking, each individual photo is 50mm by 65mm. 

The quality of these was good, i used a mix of pictures that i had taken on my phone and some from the camera and both came out fine. Seb found seeing himself on a magent pretty amusing.

With Christmas looming, I think these would be a great personalised stocking filler for partners or grandparents or even older children and teenagers.

PicStick magnets are priced at £9.50 for a set of 9 magnets with free worldwide shipping, however i have been given a discount code to share with my readers giving you 25% off, making a sheet just £
Simply use the code Grow

For more information and to order visit the PicStick website, follow them on Twitter or like them on Facebook.

**I received a free set of magnets for the purpose of this review but all opinions are my own**