A nice cup of Tea – a review of Ahmad Tea PLUS a competition!

 Everything is better after a good cup of Tea.

That good old fail safe phrase of, “I’ll put the kettle on”, has been the music to many a persons ear over the years. Mine included.

If you meet up with a friend for a chat, you put the kettle on. If you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps, you put the kettle on. If the toddler has smeared poo all over himself and his bedroom, once you have cleaned it up, you put the kettle on. Actually, the last one would probably make me reach for the Gin but, you know…each to their own.

The more friends I make, mainly thanks to my kids being at school now, the more I come to realise that people don’t just drink tea. You know, the Builders version. Strong, milk, 2 sugars (though, unashamedly that is indeed my favourite way to drink tea!). I once went to a friends house and she said, “what type of tea would you like?”  and I was left sat in stunned silence. She reeled off about 10 different types of tea and in the end I settled for ‘normal’ tea purely out of confusion. I know about Darjeeling, Earl Grey, etc but I honestly had no idea tea came in so many flavours these days!

AhmadteaBag

I was kindly sent some of these flavoured teas the other day by Ahmad, a brand I hadn’t actually heard of before but that sounded right up my alley. Ahmad have a new range of Dessert Flavoured Teas out and they all look super and sound scrummy. There are 6 in the collection and I was sent 3 to try. These were;

Mango and Lychee Souffle – which is a Green Tea

Escape to the exotic with this fusion of succulent mango and crisp lychee, gently infused with carefully chosen Chinese green teas. A truly delightful sweet and fresh aroma rises from the light pistachio-coloured liquor.

Moroccan Orange Slice

Inspired by the aromatic flavours of Morocco, this delicate balance of orange zest and cardamom spice delivers a warm and vibrant flavour. The subtle notes of Ceylon and Assam teas combine delightfully. Can be enjoyed with a splash of fresh milk if desired.

Citrus Mint Sorbet – Green Tea

A zesty and refreshing recipe of lemon, mint and grapefruit that combines delightfully with the tones of our expertly chosen Chinese green tea. Also delicious iced.

The other flavours in the dessert collection I haven’t tried are;

Strawberry Velvet Cake

Pear and Cinnamon Strudel

Strawberry and Basil Coulis – Green Tea

***

These award winning Dessert Teas are unusual and very different to anything I have had before. They are Sugar free, calorie free, and have very low levels of caffeine. Their 6 dessert inspired recipes have been beautifully crafted by master tea tasters who work closely with top home chefs. Their combined expertise of tea and desserts has created exquisitely delectable blends, balancing the flavour of their signature high quality teas along with moreish dessert recipes, which is enough to satisfy any sweet tooth.

AhmadTeaSelection


Who are Ahmad Tea?

(Information from the Ahmad Website)

Ahmad Tea is a UK-based family business, drawing on four generations of tea blending and tasting experience. Founded on a passion for the finest tea, we are dedicated to the unique place that tea drinking commands at the heart of daily life in Britain and beyond.

When the company was established in England, we felt that people desired an exceptional infusion which could be enjoyed every day. The selection of our first plantations and partners, our initial blending and tasting, and even our early packaging – all were driven by a commitment to meet this need. To this end, we were also one of the first companies to present tea in ways that emphasised its worth, offering it in beautiful gift packs, exquisite tins and charming caddies.

Over the years, as our reputation grew and our reach spread, it became equally obvious that people throughout the world shared this desire for a cup of tea that was much more than simply refreshment, but an enjoyable, memorable and satisfying experience. Such international recognition of the quality of our teas has grown to the extent that we now export to over 80 countries on six continents.

AhmadTeaCup


 What did I think of the Tea?

If I an honest, I am a traditional tea girl. I like my English Breakfast and will sometimes push the boat out and have some Earl Grey if I fancy it. The issue is that I have a very sweet tooth and despite the fact that these are Dessert Teas, I still wanted to pop a sugar in (naughty, I know). My husband however is a fan of Black Tea and Green tea and he really loved these teas. They still taste of ‘tea’ as we know it but they just have a hint of something else about them. They smell fragrant and you can certainly taste the flavours which are described on the box.

My favourite one I got to try was the Moroccan Orange Slice. It had just the right hint of orange flavour about it and  was more fragrant than pungent. I did add a little bit of milk and I loved it.

The Citrus and Mint one was very refreshing and my husband, who loved mint tea, said this was his favourite.

The Mango and Lychee tea was also lovely. It tasted fruity but nothing overpowering and it smelt stronger of exotic fruits than it tasted. Again, I added a splash of milk to this one which I preferred.

I would certainly buy the Orange one in my weekly shop from now on and my husband is really taken with the citrus and mint one.

The teas retail at £4 for 15 tea bags and you can purchase them online from the Ahmad Website or Ocado.


 Win a complete set of Ahmad Dessert Teas worth £24!

For your chance to win a complete set of Ahmad Dessert collection teas, just enter the rafflecopter below!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Party finishing touches – With Party Bags and Supplies

Anyone with kids will probably have had to deal with organising a dreaded (and by the kids, highly anticipated) children’s birthday party.

The words send shivers down my spine if I am honest, but the kids are always desperate to have a party these days. We haven’t done many if truth be told, we tend to do a treat day with the family so everyone has fun and makes some new memories, but I have caved in on occasion and let them have one (ah, memories of a crazy golf party in the snow in February – that didn’t go so well – and a swimming party where I had to don a swimming costume in front of fellow parents from school. The world is just not ready for that. Oh the indignity!)

Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the kids and their friends having fun and smiling away but these kids parties do tend to spiral into chaos at some point and I always have to have a tonic for my gin ready and waiting in the fridge at home for afterwards. Think of it as a grown up version of a reward chart sticker.

Not only do we seem to have birthday parties to organise and attend these days, but the kids are very lucky to have teachers who are also gluttons for punishment and allow the kids to have a school Christmas Party. As if the hysteria of the festive period wasn’t enough, the kids have the added excitement of an afternoon of games, food and Santa visiting them to add to it all. Things weren’t like this in my day. These kids don’t know how lucky they are!

(God I sound old)


This year, me and a friend are sharing class rep duty – sending emails, relaying messages, sending reminders, that sort of thing – because both of our middle ones are in the same class. Doing it as a team is far less stressful (half the burden!) and it’s good to get these things out the way so you’ve at least done a bit to help out at school. As part of this rep duty, we were tasked with helping organise the class christmas party – sorting decorations, organising food, that sort of thing – along with some other mums from our year group. A real team effort.

At the same time as helping to organise the class christmas party, I was approached by the lovely guys from Party Bags and Supplies to see if I wanted to review some of their products. It was like a gift from the gods coming just at the right time so I jumped at the chance and ordered some lovely festive party bits for the kids to use at school.

Great timing or what!? These moments of divine intervention rarely happen to me.

I ordered my items online with complete ease, which consisted of some classroom decorations, christmas paper plates, christmas paper cups, party bags and some party bag supplies such as festive gliders to go in them, and clicked order. The items were at my door within 2 days. Really wonderful service. Whilst I was browsing the website, I really was spoilt for choice. There is also an enormous range of items available and regardless of what party you’re having, Christmas, Easter, Trolls, Superhero, Angry Birds, My Little Pony, the list goes on, you will find whatever it is you’re after. All themed, a superbly easy to use website and fab customer service.

The kids classroom looked wonderful all decorated – like a grotto! – and the looks on their little faces when they got a festive party bag on the way out the classroom door was really priceless. Maybe I shouldn’t be so grumpy about kids parties after all…

If you’re looking for party supplies, I would highly recommend using Party Bags and Supplies.


You can visit Party Bags and Supplies website, here.




Santa’s goes shopping (A Christmas Gift Guide Tale)

T’was the night before Christmas eve and all through the place, was swearing and cursing and an angry red face.

That angry red face belonged to poor old Santa. It was Christmas Eve, he had loads to do and he couldn’t find his chuffing hat anywhere.

“Mrs Claus! Where is my hat?! Have you tidied it away again?!” he bellowed.

“No darling, it’s where you left it last night after you had a few too many Sherry’s! Try looking on Vixen’s antler!” she replied, curtly.

Sure enough, when Santa went to check, there it was. He forgot that he had been playing a drinking game of ‘toss the hat onto the antler’ with his elves at the Pre-Christmas party last night (if you get the hat on the antler, everyone else has to drink. Things got quite messy and at least 45 of the elves were on the Alka Seltzers that morning).

“Sorry about last night’s shenanigans Vixen,” said Santa. “Here, you were a very good sport. Have 15 extra Carrots”.

Vixen gobbled them up and Santa put his hat back on his head.

Tomorrow was Christmas Eve. The busiest night of the year for him. The day before Christmas Eve is spent checking the gifts onto the sleigh and ensuring everyone has what they asked for. It’s a long, laborious task, but someone has to do it. And that someone, is Santa.

Don’t feel too sorry for him though folks, out of a whole 365 days in a year, he only has to work for 2 of them so it’s not all bad.

The elves, despite their hangovers, soldiered on, loading the gifts onto the sleigh as Santa called out names and addresses of people and what it was they had asked for. All was going well, for about 5 hours, and then…disaster struck. Some people had been missed off the list!

“How on earth has this happened?!” yelled Santa in complete bemusement.

“Erm, I think we forgot to print one of the pages off Santa. I’m so sorry…” said his Chief Elf, Shinny Upatree.

“Oh bloody orange!” exclaimed Santa. “What are we going to do?!”

“I’m afraid there is only one thing for it Santa,” said Shinny. “You’ll have to go Christmas Shopping. It’s the only way. Christmas workshop production has shut down now. Getting the gifts by any other means will be impossible! You must go to the shops”.

Santa felt his heart drop. He HATED shopping at any time of year, let alone at Christmas when every man and his wife was there.

“If this is the only way to avoid a Christmas disaster then so be it. I’ll take my hat off and go put my civvies on” he replied solemnly.

via GIPHY

Santa pulled on his original Levi 501’s, a checked shirt and a flat cap (he’s bang on trend without even knowing it) and set off for the shopping centre in his red Range Rover Sport. See, I told you he got paid alright for only 2 days work.

Once there, he had to queue for 45 minutes for a space. “I knew I should have risked flying here in the sleigh,” he muttered. His blood began to boil, but he thought of the poor people who had been missed off his list and calmed himself down.

After battling for a space, and using a bit of choice sign language at someone able bodied who insisted on waiting for a space near the door which caused a HUGE queue, he grabbed his bags for life out of the boot (lovely eco-friendly ones by dotcom giftshop) and set off for the hell hole that is the shopping centre.

First on the list was Annette Curton. She had asked for a nice thermal blanket and some slipper socks for her children because they were in the middle of building work and their home was freezing cold. Isn’t everyone building these days?! They wanted a new kitchen diner big enough for an island…the middle class dream. Santa knew he had to head to the department store and find the items. Luckily he didn’t have to search too far. He saw a lovely, soft, thermal blanket by Heat Holders and some thermal slipper socks for each of her children, scooped them up and headed for the checkout.

The first checkout had nobody on it. Typical.

The second checkout had someone returning some unwanted items who was taking ages. Brilliant.

The third checkout had a bit of a queue but he decided to just wait it out because he couldn’t be bothered to move again. Thankfully, after a short 20 minute wait time in 45 degree heat, it was his turn and he paid and was on his way.

Annette Curton, tick!

The next item on his list was for Seymour Legg. He had asked for a bottle of British Cassis and a monthly Craft Beer subscription for a year. Nice choices, eh?!

Santa used his iDeer phone to sort the beer subscription using a company called Beer52 and set a reminder to email the gift to Mr Legg on Christmas morning. He loved the look of the beers himself and might have (100% did).

Santa then popped into a little independent drink store to get the British Cassis. It’s not easy to come by in the shops, and if he had time he would have ordered it online, but it’s worth the hunt! Santa always indulged in a bit of it on Christmas morning in his champagne. Again, I told you he was living the life of Riley…

 The next person to sort out was a chap called Jo King.

He needed to source some flowers for his Mother who lived miles away and so Santa hit his iDeer up again and ordered a lovely orchid from Blossoming Gifts for her. The colour of it was stunning and she would be dumbfounded at the thoughtfulness of it. Brownie points for her son, even though he knows nothing about it.

Theresa Green asked for some bits for her home that her husband would never buy her because he views them as ‘not important’.

Santa went back to dotcom gift shop and bought her a hanging vase to use in the kitchen, a placemat in the shape of a vinyl record to put her hot pots on, a thermos flask for when she is watching her son on a cold sideline at football training and a lovely rustic water decanter.

He knew she would absolutely love them all.

Finally, there was little Ina Baker. She was only 4 and had wished for a biscuit baking kit thanks to a great British Bake Off obsession. So, Santa found a Graffiti one by BKD for her. It was super cool with everything she would need to make her scrummy treats.  He knew she would have a smile on her face Christmas morning opening this.

After hours of shopping, Santa sat down at a table in a coffee shop and had a well earned drink and wedge of cake.

He watched the world pass him by and looked on in bemusement at the angst riddled shoppers, sweating profusely, struggling with enormous bags full of stuff and thanked his lucky stars that he didn’t have to suffer this fate every year. He was going to ensure such a cock-up would never happen again and would hold a meeting with his top elves as soon as Christmas was over.

After fighting his way out of the car park for 50 minutes, and a bit of swearing, Santa was on his way home and was ready to prepare for Christmas Eve.

He had successfully sourced all the missing gifts and everyone was now set to have a wonderful Christmas.

Here’s wishing you all a very merry, happy and healthy Christmas and new year!


 Disclosure: I was sent the items in this review for the purpose of this gift guide. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.



Make brushing their teeth fun with Playbrush!

Urgh. Kids and teeth brushing. These two things rarely go together well in my house and I can pretty much guarantee that I will loose my mind the two times per day that this event occurs. It’s so painful. And is possibly responsible for at least 3 of my units of alcohol consumed each week.

The eldest one is much better now and will brush by himself and then I do an ‘inspection brush’ at the end. The middle one literally crawls up the stairs and melts into the carpet as he does so in a bid to delay things and the toddler, well, let’s just say I have to use some force (not quite a headlock but close enough) to get him to open his mouth so I can brush his little pegs. It’s a battle that’s for sure.

When I was contacted the other week by the lovely folks from Playbrush to see if I would like to review one, I of course, firstly, shuddered at the mere thought of tooth brushing and then I quickly decided it was a splendid idea to see if it helped at all so said I yes please!


 Who and what is Playbrush?

(Excerpt from the Playbrush website)

All of us being reluctant brushers, we are here to finally make brushing teeth fun.

The Playbrush team works closely with brilliant engineers and designers, as well as fascinating advisors, including renowned dentists, public health specialists, academics, entrepreneurs and investors.

Furthermore, we have been supported by many people during our Kickstarter game. To honor this support (and as we promised during our Kickstarter campaign) we created a virtual brushing wall. Have a look and check it out!

Playbrushlogo

The story is pretty simple: We were inspired by a little boy – let’s call him Kiwi – who is a reluctant brusher. Like all kids, Kiwi is a curious adventurer, exploring the world and seeking new challenges. But Kiwi’s caring mother knows about the importance of dental health and therefore encourages him to brush his teeth twice a day – which is not an adventure at all. Why should he participate in this boring and annoying routine?

Although 20 years older, all of us are still reluctant brushers, experiencing painful and frightening dentist appointments once or twice a year. Despite some of us even having family backgrounds in dentistry, we are not brushing regularly, long enough and accurately.

Therefore we are not only building Playbrush for children – but also for everyone!

So, as you can see from the above information, Playbrush has been designed to make the most mundane of tasks, tooth brushing, more fun! A simple idea, but one that I think is absolutely brilliant! They always say that the simple ideas are the most effective don’t they?!


 I decided to give our sample Playbrush to Zak, our middle one.

He is 7 and is the most headstrong (aka, stubborn) of the three kids so far. If he doesn’t want to do something, the whole world will feel his pain before he eventually gives in and does as he’s been asked. As I said earlier, it’s painful.

The box contains a tooth brush, instructions, the Playbrush base dock, smart phone holder for the bathroom and a USB charging cable. It is available in a choice of colours.

Zak excitedly opened the box and after charging the little base unit up for about an hour and downloading the free apps onto my phone and Zak’s iPad Mini, the Playbrush was almost good to go! The last thing to do was to pop the tooth brush into the Playbrush dock itself (it’s a rubbery contraption that just sits on the end of the brush. It isn’t invasive nor is it heavy) and then he was all set to brush!

The jist of it is that you play the games on device as you brush and the Playbrush unit registers (via Blutooth) the movements your child is making as they brush. This then makes the character in the game speed up and progress in order to collect more points. At the end of the brushing session, your child is then given a points score (which is shown on a leaderboard against other children, nothing like a bit of competition to spur them on!) and is told where they brushed well, and also where they didn’t. I have found this super helpful and Zak likes to know where he can improve too so this feedback is brilliant.

There are about 4 games to choose from on the app store at the moment so your kids are unlikely to get bored with them. Zak has two of them and has loved playing so far, his favourite one is flying the little character in a helicopter!

Zak is actually asking to brush his teeth now and the day we got the Playbrush, he brushed his teeth twice in the space of 2 hours just so he could play the games! Transformation or what?!


 I would honestly thoroughly recommend a Playbrush to anyone. I don’t think the novelty will wear off and I can fully envisage getting my eldest son one for Christmas as a stocking filler. He has been a bit jealous of his brother at tooth brushing time I have to say.

Make sure the tooth fairy (and dentist) is over the moon with those little gnashers and give it a whirl!

You can buy your own Playbrush, or find out more about it, by clicking here.


 Disclosure: I was sent a Playbrush for the purpose of this review. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.



Insomnia – I can’t get no sleep (S+ by ResMed Review)

“I can’t get no sleep”, said Faithless in their famous song, Insomnia.

I love that tune (listen to me trying to be all trendy saying ‘tune’ – god I’m old. This ‘tune’ came out in 1996 people! 1996! That makes it 20 years old! Stop!!!!)

Luckily, I seem to be able to sleep without too much hassle as long as my three little darlings are behaving and aren’t having nightmares, falling out of bed, deciding it’s ‘wake up time’ at 4am or being poorly. Yeah, I have a few hindrances that can influence if I have a good nights sleep or not and my dear husband is also one of those ‘hindrances’.

Don’t go getting all Sheffield United (excited, it rhymes, kind of), it’s not for any reason that warrants girly giggles and blushing that he hinders my sleep (my parents read this drivel people!) it’s purely because he is a chuffing nightmare when it comes to bedtime and sleep! He’s restless, he get’s insomnia, I get ‘attacked’ in my sleep by him (by this I mean he thrashes about and I often get a kick to the shin or an elbow in the head) and he shouts out whilst having bizarre dreams where he can’t open his mouth but he needs to shout for help (a bit like Neo in the Matrix – freaky…)

via GIPHY

All this makes for a very tired and grumpy husband, who is already pretty tired and grumpy due to a long and busy day at work. The sleep deprivation and stress combine to make the perfect storm of ‘Stanger’ you’ve ever seen. Yes, ‘Stanger’ is a new word I just made up. It’s stress and anger together. I quite like it.

When I was contacted a few weeks ago to see if we would like to review a new sleep aid, I immediately replied on behalf of my husband (and my sanity) and said, “yes please, thank you very much, you might just save my marriage and my sanity”.

In a nutshell, I was hopeful this device might help my husband a bit to kip a bit better.

The device arrived and it is called the S+ by ResMed. I hadn’t heard of it before but I’d had a read up on it and it sounded almost too good to be true. The S+ is the first sleep device you don’t have to wear anything for or have any physical contact with whilst you sleep, therefore it doesn’t impede on your rest and it can quietly go about it’s business without interfering with you. Wonderful, eh?!

It uses an app on your smart phone (which is free to download) to track your sleep and record the data. You just need to have the S+ and your phone stationed next to you for it to work.

My husband got in  from work and diligently ignored the manuals (he’s a bloke, what do you expect) and set it up without any issues. The S+ had to be next to the bed, with the white unit part pointing towards to mattress to get a good reading, and that was about it. Fill in the info the app asks for (this is very comprehensive and asks about exerice, height, weight, stress levels, light levels, issues you have with your sleep and much more so it can get a good gauge on what might be affecting you) connect the phone to the unit using Bluetooth so a green light shows on the front of the white unit and away you go! Super simple.

Resmed S+ sleep device

My husband literally couldn’t wait to go to bed that first night to…try it out. Again folks, don’t get all excited this post is about SLEEP!

He connected his phone up to the S+, he selected for it to play him some soothing sounds to help him get to sleep (this is one of the many functions the S+ offers. The sounds gradually slow down and get quieter in order to make you relax and then drift off to sleep. I have to say, the sound he had chosen sounded a bit like an ethereal being was stood singing in the corner of the bedroom, but it seemed to do the job for him and he was asleep in no time).

The next morning, he excitedly looked at the data the app had collected to see how he slept. Like a child on Christmas morning he was!

It broke his sleep down into deep sleep, REM sleep and light sleep. Apparently, and this is an ongoing theme until this day, he didn’t get enough REM sleep and this REM sleep is what apparently allows your brain to relax and is the holy grail for those who feel tired. You are more likely to dream during REM sleep and it’s where your body can truly relax, so this is what he needed to improve.

In order to improve on this REM sleep score, the S+ recommended Mr Knutts went to bed at, wait for it, 9:30pm. An hour after our almost 9 year old does. I stifled my rage at this machine giving him permission to relax and get to bed whilst I was sorting packed lunches, folding washing from the Tumble Dryer, locking the house up, loading the dishwasher and reminded myself he has had a busy day *ahem, so have I, ahem* and we mustn’t get resentful about these things must we.

So, off he trotted, at 9:30pm, up the stairs to Beddington and snuggled down to his dreamy music once again.

This continued for the next week and a half. He almost became a bit obsessive about it and I could literally see him getting fidgety about 9:15, preempting the S+ app’s demands for an early bedtime. I got used to it in the end and used the time to watch my TV programmes in peace and quiet. Not all bad, we have to find some joy in these moments of madness.

Luckily, the S+ has tracked his sleep for 4 weeks now and currently it suggests a more reasonable time of 10pm. This is *on a good night* when I hit the hay anyway so I don’t find that as galling as 9:30…

It has so far suggested making the room darker, turning the heating down and then more general things which are proven to help sleep like having less caffeine or trying to get some more exercise in (which is easier said than done after a long day at work).

Mr Knutts is now at a point, after using it for 4 weeks, where he has begun averaging a score of between 85 and 95 out of 100 for his sleep quality. Without sounding too bitter and twisted, I’d be pretty happy with that if it was me. Mr Knutts however, isn’t going to rest (excuse the sleep pun) until he hits 100. Hard work this sleep malarkey isn’t it?! Hopefully it won’t tell him to go to bed any earlier than 9:30pm.

The S+ has lots of different cool things to help ensure you get a good nights sleep; from the calming sounds I told you about, to a notepad function so you can jot down anything that pops into your head to help ‘clear your mind’ before you go to sleep…

Mr Knutts has said that he likes the S+ and it has been interesting to see what type of sleep he is getting and when. He isn’t sure it has made much difference to his actual sleep but I beg to differ because I have been accosted by the Matrix-mouthed sleeping ninja far less of late, and I have to say it coincided with getting the S+ so we shall wait and see if the random sleep quirks are held at bay. Let’s hope so! His main gripe is that it can take quite a while to connect his phone with it (it can be temperament and loose connection) which, when he is tired and just wants to sleep, can drive him a bit bonkers. Who knows, but that was his feedback. He thinks it would be a good investment for anyone struggling with their sleep and would suggest trying it if you’re at a real loss as to what to do to improve it.

Essentially, I think my husband needs to hibernate like a bear (with a sore head) does and this might improve his tiredness levels.

You can buy you own sleep helper in the form of the S+ by ResMed online and you can view their website here.


Disclosure: I was sent a ResMed S+ for the purpose of this review. All words, thoughts, opinions and photos are my own.