Thursday 29 August 2013

Rhubarb and Vanilla Bean custard

I was sent some Vanilla Bean paste to try, have to say I have never used the paste before. I am a lover of the extract and love it added to sultana cakes and cherry briocke.

Vanilla - Truly fine vanilla is at once rich, sweet and sophisticated, possessing a euphoric flavor and fragrance that sends pure joy to the pleasure centers of the brain. Vanilla is warm. It's complex. It can have a bit of spice. Or flowery notes. It is the most popular flavor in the world. And to the vanilla lovers at Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, it is our ultimate passion.

But I decided the other day to do something totally different, so we could actually savour something so upmarket and delicate. I had some rhubarb which I cooked up using  agave syrup to sweeten it to keep it diabetic friendly.

Next I brought a pint of coconut milk drink to the boil, added  two dessert spoons of coconut sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste and removed it from the heat. Stirred in a sachet of gelatine and left to cool and set overnight.

Next day I put some of the cooked and cooled rhubarb  into a glass,( not seen my sundae dishes since I moved house, may well be in the loft) then added some cold chopped up vanilla bean custard,  then added another 2 layers to the top.

Makes for a nice easy to eat dessert in this warm weather.

Disclaimer - the vanilla bean paste was sent to me but the recipe idea is all my own.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Diabetic pancakes with Maple Syrup

I was sent out two bottles of Clarks Maple Syrup, one medium grade and one vanilla flavour.

Clarks Maple Syrup comes in four different varieties

larks Pure Canadian Maple Syrup No 1 Medium Grade
Harvested at the start of the second half of the season and considered by many in Canada to be the crème de la crème of maple syrup, this variant has a strong maple flavour and a rich, dark colour.  Serve it drizzled over desserts or savoury dishes like bacon or sausages. rrp £3.40
Clarks No.2 Amber Maple Syrup
Another pure blend, with a rich colour and deep flavour. Ideal for marinades, baking and dressings, or simply as a healthier alternative to sugar, rrp £2.99
Clarks Original Maple Syrup - the UK’s best selling maple syrup. A blend of pure maple syrup from Quebec and carob fruit from the Mediterranean.  Delicious on pancakes, desserts and also a wonderful recipe ingredient. Carob fruit is a low glycemic ingredient that has 25% less calories than sugar, rrp £1.98
Vanilla Maple Syrup blended with Carob Fruit Syrup
A blend of pure Canadian maple syrup, carob fruit from the Mediterranean and natural vanilla flavouring. This syrup works well for sweet dishes and baking.  Try it mixed in with porridge or on waffles for breakfast - or poured over ice cream for a sweet treat, rrp £2.10

It can also be good for you, you can read about it's health benefits here 

When I was sent this I was sent a link to the recipes you can make with it, from savoury to sweet to the traditional pour it over the pancakes. 

Well trying to remember I am bullying encouraging my husband into eating healthy for his diabetes I made diabetic friendly pancakes and allowed him to pour some syrup on top. A little bit of what you fancy does no harm, everything in moderation. 

Now I am a firm believer pancakes really don't need to be exact, pour, whisk and add flour till you get the consistency you like with the amount you want depending on how many people you are feeding. 

Add some milk to a bowl, I used coconut milk, whisk in a couple of eggs ( or egg replacer if making egg free) and stir in some agave syrup if you want to sweeten them. Stir in some wholemeal flour mixed with wheat-germ ( for added fibre)  until you get the consistency you want. 

Cook in a lightly greased frying pan. I added some raspberries to ours for added goodness. 

Pop onto a plate and drizzle with Maple Syrup. I used the vanilla one as I love the subtle flavour. 

Disclimer - I was sent the Maple Syrup but the recipe idea is my own. 

Tuesday 27 August 2013

I have been trying out Pudology puds

I have been running a competition where part of the prize is some Pudology Puds, and so I decided I had to try them out.

The lovely people over at Pudology sent me out 2 banoffee, 2 strawberry and 2 chocolate.

{sshh..dairy & gluten free!}In the study of the perfect {dairy & gluten free!} pudding, we have created beautifully indulgent & delicious puddings made without dairy, gluten or eggs, because we believe no-one should miss out just because they can't eat dairy!

The chocolate ones
The incredible combination of creamy coconut and dark decadent chocolate create this incredibly satisfying and a little bit naughty treat.

Ingredients List
Coconut Milk (52%), Dark Chocolate(38%) (sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, emulsifier: soya lecithin, natural vanilla flavouring) Water, Sugar, Madagascan Vanilla Extract(0.6%)
These were very rich, rather sweet, and I would describe them as chocolate hazelnut spread without the chocolate and nuts but very similar taste and consistency, and totally delicious. 
These puddings are chocolate all the way down, and I served mine up with pancakes, it
melted beautifully over the top. Also think it would be nice on a sponge cake as a frosting. 


A little sophisticated pot of frighteningly fresh tasting strawberries with the creaminess of coconut milk. The gluten free biscuit base makes this dessert a real treat if you’re avoiding dairy and gluten, it’s a bit like a cheesecake but we think it’s a hundred times better!
Ingredients List
Strawberry Topping (76%) - Coconut Milk (59%), Strawberry Puree (33%)(strawberries, inverted sugar syrup), Sugar, Stabiliser: (Corn Starch, Pectin E440, Agar E406, Carob Gum E410, Sugar)
Biscuit Base (24%) - Flour Blend (Rice, Tapioca, Maize, Buckwheat), Vegetable Fat Spread (vegetable oils, water, salt, emulsifier: mono-and-di glycerides of fatty acids, flavourings, vitamin E, citric acid, colour: beta carotene, vitamins A and D) Sugar.
 This one is also soya free. These had a nice combination of topping with a nice biscuit base. A crumbly biscuit base as per typical of gluten free biscuits . A little bit to sweet in the first spoonful or two but really nice time you get use to it. Its great to eat something as indulgent as this and know you wont suffer the next forty eight hours for eating it.


The ultimate dairy free indulgence with our secret dairy free toffee sauce. Layers of crunchy biscuit, toffee and banana topped off with our indulgent dairy free chocolate ganache, this is heaven in a pot.Ingredients ListChocolate Topping (23%) - Coconut Milk, Dark Chocolate(38%) (sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, emulsifier: soya lecithin, natural vanilla flavouring) Water, Sugar, Madagascan Vanilla Extract.Soya Toffee & Banana Sauce(55%) - Banana Puree (50%), Soya Milk (Water,Hulled Soya Beans (6.5%) ,Apple Extract ,Acidity Regulators (Monopotassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate) ,Calcium Carbonate ,Maltodextrin ,Sea Salt ,Stabiliser (Gellan Gum) ,Vitamins (Riboflavin, B12, E, D2)), Sugar, Vegetable Fat Spread (Vegetable Oils,Water ,Salt (2.3%) ,Emulsifier: Mono- and Di-Glycerides of Fatty Acids ,Flavourings ,Vitamin E ,Citric Acid ,Colour: Beta-Carotene ,Vitamins A and D).
Biscuit Base (22%) -  Flour Blend (Rice, Tapioca, Maize, Buckwheat), Vegetable Fat Spread (vegetable oils, water, salt, emulsifier: mono-and-di glycerides of fatty acids, flavourings, vitamin E, citric acid, colour: beta carotene, vitamins A and D) Sugar.

This one was also very nice, a great combination of biscuit base,  a banana flavour in the middle and topped with the chocolate pudding.
This again was quite sweet, but a great treat for us people who cannot eat normal foods.

It really is nice to see more and more companies making "normal, decent" food for people with allergies, and I get quite excited by what the next ten years are going to bring for people like me, my children and my grandchildren. Thanks to companies like this my great grandchildren will be able to walk into a supermarket and readily buy products like these.

I have to point out I had to fight off OH for these, he normally will not touch what he classes as "foodless food" but he thoroughly enjoyed these as well. Bob did not get to try them as the only soya free one is the strawberry and Bob is allergic to strawberries or you would have had his opinion as well.

Disclaimer - I was sent the puddings out to review, but the findings are my own.

Convair PA600 Eco Air Purifier Review

I was sent a Convair PA600 Eco Air Purifier and Ioniser with new anti-bacteria technology to try out and  see what I thought of it. It is great when you get this type of product that can make a difference to your quality of life, and then tell everybody else all about it. 

So what is it? 

Protect your family's health with our best selling anti-bacterial Air purifier
the machine
There are many invisible pollutants in the air, which makes keeping your children and family safe from toxins a challenge! Your home is constantly being invaded by pollens and vehicle exhaust gases, and, no matter how often you clean, mites, mildew, and dust pollute the air. The Convair PA600 Eco Air Purifier has HEPA filters which work to remove these toxins from the air and help your family breathe easier.
This sleek Italian-designed air purifier has a HEPA filter for those wanting to breathe a sigh of relief. Designed to generate negative ions, the purifier is designed for rooms measuring around 80 cubic metres/18 square metres and aims to eliminate unwanted impurities from the air such as odours, dust and smoke.
Breathing clean air is very important. It is increasingly clear the correlation between health problems and air quality. It is scientifically proven that the air in our homes contains allergens (pollen, mites, moulds, etc), noxious substances (exhaust emission particles of motors, formaldehyde, etc), bacteria viruses and suspended smells. New air purifier PA600, besides HEPA filter, presents the new technology of plasma generator.

This air purifier removes the following pollutants and more:
  • Eliminates allergens, hay fever & pollen
  • Filters out gases and fumes, paints & building material
  • Removes tobacco smoke & nicotine
  • Destroys microorganisms, bacteria & fungal spores
Packed full of Features: 
  • Stylish Italian-designed air purifier with ioniser
  • HEPA filter Generates negative ions which are beneficial for health
  • Reusable, washable charcoal pre-filter
  • Designed for rooms measuring 80 cubic metres/18 sq metres
  • Easy to Operate
  • Mobile & lightweight. Easy to set up in any room
  • Reduced Noise Level
Technical Information:
  • HEPA filter
  • Generates negative ions
  • Washable charcoal pre-filter
  • Power: 40w
  • Ionization: 1,230,000 ions/cm3

I have been testing out this product for two months now, not a product you can test and review in a week.  With the exceptional warm summer we have had along with higher pollen levels than normal it has had a hard job to undertake.

My asthma is often triggered by air born pollution, car fumes, paint fumes, cat dander, dog hairs, the list is not short or sweet. 

Since we moved into this house two months ago I notice how much dustier this house is than the last one was. We are living on a street that has a lot of passing traffic as well as farming fields out the back that has been harvesting with the dust this kicks up. 

But  I have to say I feel my breathing has been easier over night, not needing to reach for my inhaler in an evening/morning  and also not using my peak flow meter at all as I don't feel any drop in my peak flow. I am  able to breath through my nose more freely than I usually do, and this in itself leads to a more peaceful nights sleep as you don't wake up feeling all dry mouthed from mouth breathing. My eyes have been itchy some of the days, but as I say pollen counts have been unusual for this part of the world. 

We have been doing a lot of paper striping in here and painting/decorating and I have had none of my usual breathing problems associated with this activity. 

side view

For me I have to say this machine has been a big hit.

It is a small light weight unit, that uses very little power (40w) runs quietly enough you do not notice it is on, and does not vibrate down through the floor. I have it up the stairs with the bedroom doors open so it is keeping the whole upstairs clear. The machine does not have an on/off switch,or any adjustable speeds,  just operated from the mains but does have a blue light on so you know when it is in operation. Only downside that I can see for me is there is no handle to carry it with. 

Right now they are in the sale at £24.97, and I would say well worth investing in. 

Disclaimer I was provided this this machine for the purpose of this review, but the findings and words are all my own.

Monday 26 August 2013

Bobs first venture out with the camera

I know Bob is seven and a lot of children his age have grown up with a camera in their hand, but Bob has never used a camera before, he plays with his sisters tablet that takes pictures but only messes around in the house with it.

So tonight as his sister was swimming, yet again says Bob, Bob wanted to stay here rather than go and get bored watching. So I decided now was a good time to take him and let him loose with the camera. We took most of our pictures in landscape but we also learnt how to use portrait, we learnt how to zoom in and out and we even used macro for a few pictures, though I switched this on for him, we will leave that for another day. The very first lesson he was taught was putting the wrist strap round your wrist and tightening it up, I changed the none tightening strap for one off the wii so it does tighten ( and then ordered a new wii one to replace the one I used)

The sun was not out, it was dull and overcast, so the light was not brilliant, no nice reflection in the water or light bouncing off the buildings, but today was not about quality it was about fun and learning.

So here are a selection of the pictures Bob took, a few of them were cropped and a few lightened but apart from that they are all his own work.

Bob loves tractors and trailers, so he was in his element

blue tractor

side view of the digger

the whole digger

the tracks of the digger

a trailer

Scenic shots

zoomed in to the farm

panoramic across the pond

zoomed in on the village


all rushing for bread thrown in

front of white chicken

side view

one of the ferrets


a macro of bramble thorns

macro of a white flower

never spotted this growing wild here before

thistle down

zoomed in and cropped, not macro

and lastly he got a picture of grandma taking a picture.

Not bad for a first attempt. We will see what we can do next time.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Our fun with #my 99p store challenge

I saw this challenge over on the 99p store website  the challenge was

Family bloggers – we want YOU!

Family bloggers – we want YOU to help show the world how much fun you can have with a tenner at 99p Stores with our ‘My 99p Summer’ Blogger Competition.

So I popped over to see what the shop sell and looked where my nearest store was. At that time there were none in Scotland, but I was informed that the first Scottish store was opening in my home town on August 4th and thought this would be fun and so applied to join in. It truly is in keeping with the title of my bog so how would I not? I was accepted for the challenge so this week went to check out the shop.

The shop is strategically placed at the station end of the town, as far away as possible from the other shops of its ilk in town, and have to admit I dont usually shop at this end of the town, everything I need is at the other end.

Anyway I took a wander into the shop and was amazed at the amount of stuff they sell, especially name brands. From basics like cereals and tinned products, to cleaning products, pans and freezer bags, baby goods, batteries, toys and stationery. Many of the products were actually less than 99p.

So as this was about how much fun you can have with the money I looked at products for the grandchildren.
First of all as the weather is still nice I looked at some outdoor toys, I bought Bob a

 which he had fun with

 and Fifi a skip and hop

which Fifi had lots of fun with

they were having fun outside after they had finished playing with these,

but it had been all sweetness and light, Fifi kept pinching Bobs ball and to get it back he grabbed hold of her hair to stop her making her squeal.

After tea we decided to build their wooden models, Fifi picked the jeep and Bob took the plane.
Theses are a great buy for 99p.

Fifi pressed hers out rather ambitiously and broke one of the slots that fit the model together. So we glued the piece but had to wait on it drying before she could assemble it, so she painted hers first instead. I have to admit they were quite difficult to press out of the frame they came in.

Fifi will assemble hers later this week.

Bob and I sat in the house and made his. He needed some help with pushing some of the pieces out and I had to hold the model while he assembled it. Bob will paint his when he is here as well. They make great ornaments .

We also bought seed pots to paint

 Glue sticks as Fifi keeps asking for glue cos she loves to cut and stick,  and also bought them a pencil, eraser and highlighter set, and Bob keeps asking for a pencil case, and I love this one as it fits inside a ring binder making it less easy to loose.

As I was buying glue and paints I picked up a plastic tablecloth to cover the table with so it is easier to clean up after their craft activities.

I treated myself to these as they looked nice, and they certainly are. Not Bob friendly and cant eat them when he is here, but he is not here every day.

Lots of fun was had for our £10, what would you have bought with yours?

Disclaimer - we were provided with shopping vouchers to join in with this challenge.

Project 365 18th - 25th August.

Well that's are children been back to school for a week. Fifi asked me on Friday morning if I was walking her to school? Do you want me to I said? One horrified look later.....No she replies I was just asking in case you were going to. The school is literally at the bottom of my street and she is Primary seven, off to big school next year, and been walking to school by herself for two and a half years so I did not really think she needed me too.


This cacti was shared earlier this year, it is an off spring of one bought by Daughter No3 at a school fair way back approx 17 years ago. This one must be happy in its new home as it has flowered. All 3 of them are stood together and get the same amount of light and water, goodness knows why one has flowered and the others two haven't.


Not really sure what he is, but he appeared about a week ago at the fishery. Not very clear as he does not stay still long enough, very very nervous creature.


Had Bob for a while this afternoon as his mum was a way for her 24 week scan. Twins still right size for two singletons, on the big size for twins.  We went for a walk down the back roads and ended up watching the tractors harvesting. You can read all about it here if you really wish.


Decided tonight to go somewhere other than the fishery, its very pretty and all that there but fancied a change. So we rove out to Auchencruive Estate. Use to walk here regularly and have many many pictures over the years of children, grandchildren and the dogs here. Shorty dog loved the place.
Went down to the dam and took the water cascading over the middle of the rocks. Not been a lot of rain lately but enough to keep the river flowing. Found out about auto awesome on google+ so cheating slightly with today's picture.

Sleep over night for the children has changed to a Thursday night, only night of the week that suits all of us between their after school activities and me working. They were out in the garden playing and I all I could hear were fits of giggles while I was putting out their tea, sneaked out and took this.

 Sorry, if your a veggie you may wish to look the other way.
Bought a piece of roast pork the other day, and very nice it was too, but do you know the best bit? For me it has to be the hot crispy crackling off the top, scrap away the layer of fat underneath and just crunch...yum yum yum.


Went out tonight and took  the grandchildrens camera, my camera,  the grandchildren's camera that we received from Travel Supermarket yesterday, purely in the name of research of course, to try it out and see what sort of results I can get. Have to say I was well impressed with the over all quality, the modes/programmes on it, and boy oh boy well impressed with the panoramic facility. Not tried it?  go on, its really impressive.

Any way the camera had its first outing to....the will get use to being there.

Took this on macro mode and despite the wee breeze there was it turned out very well. Nice depth of field, clear subject matter, not the most interesting subject. Did take a load more pictures on various setting may share them with you later this week when I get chance.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Gramping with the family.

We went away on holiday earlier this month, just our two selves, nobody else to please, nobody else to consider, nobody else to fit into the plan. Family holidays and extended family holidays can be totally different. Feel free and read about what you can inspire too when yours have all grown and flown.

 When our own children were young we often went on holiday to a caravan, nowhere exciting, back in the days when life was much simpler than it is now. It was nice to get away, to have no set routine, no having to be at work/school at a certain time, no having to be back for a set time. We got up when we wanted, the children went to bed when they were tired, and in between time the days were filled with board games, ball games, playing in a river and generally just enjoying each others company.

 Don't get me wrong it was not always as peaceful and idyllic as this makes it sound, the older two girls were four and five years older than the two boy, who in turn were four and five years older than the younger daughter, and no matter what you did if it was activity oriented you could not please everybody. But by the same token having the older girls was also a help as we could split up if we were going to do some things and try and please more of them as much as we could.

picture courtesy of
Now there are three generations of us and I have to say the grandchildren are not really into quiet board game type holidays. They like to go to organised sites that have all the entertainment on tap. That has activities geared to each age group, that have clubs designed to keep them entertained. They want to swim, and cycle and be on the go from morning to night. Children these days are so use to leading a hectic life with after school this and before school that and really are not much good at amusing themselves. This is a great way of interacting with your grandchildren and joining in with what they enjoy.

I as a grandparent find trying to keep up with them exhausting, but  it does make life easier when there are plenty of cheap October breaks online. We are very fortunate as grandparents and live a two minute walk away from the grandchildren, but for many families this is not the case and maybe an extended holiday is one of the few ways they get to enjoy time with their grandchildren.

 "Gramping" in the U.K. is a growing trend for the modern generation. Grandparents are becoming essential to the smooth running of many working parents lives, and this really is just an extension of that. 

How do you feel, would you go away with three generations? Whether your a parent or a grandparent is this your idea of heaven or hell? Let me know what you think. 

Friday 23 August 2013

What I did on holiday.

When we went away earlier this month for our four day holiday while my husband was enjoying his days fishing on the Tweed, I went off by myself and played at well tourist I suppose. Me and my little camera went off to see what we could capture as a nice reminder of our days a way.

I have already covered Day 1, travelling down, and where we stayed when we were on holiday .

I have to say I tried to keep my holiday as cheap as possible so spent time looking around places I could see for free, and anywhere you go there is plenty to see for free. Had I not been so busy/stressed/under pressure before I went I may well have e-mailed off to some local places you needed to pay to get into to see if I could have gained cheap/free access in return for a blog post but I decided I just wanted to do things as and when I wanted, or nothing if the notion took me therefore decided not to.

So on day two after I had got some photographs to remember the fishing part of the holiday, I went off to spend time in Kelso. My idea of fun on any holiday is old buildings, churches and gravestones, I have a huge fascination in reading gravestones, and OH believes there are only so many people should read in life and he finds them rather boring.

So my first stop in Kelso was Kelso Abbey.

There are more pictures of the Abbey to see here in a google+ a;bum if you wish.....come on this is social media and there is no point in not boring you. Think slide show 30 years

Next off I wandered around to take in some of the town itself, I wandered past an art gallery, not really my thing, liked the art work entrance to the place

I went for a walk along the cobbles, they may be nice to look at but were awful to drive on.

I went into some of the local places like the Kelso Pottery, where the owner was happy to show me round his workshop, explain the techniques to me, and show me how his goods are made. I loved some of the bowls and dishes ha made, and like the idea of them being one offs, but as I say was a holiday on a budget so I refrained.

Day 3

Again I dropped OH off to do his fiahing, and I decided to head back into Coldstream to see what it had to offer.

I went into the Coldstream Museum,  which I found very interesting, but like many museums you cannot take photographs inside so I cannot share that with you. The entry to the Museum was free with a donations box on the table if you wish.

There was a craft market on in the local hall, and I also took a walk along the river as it was really peaceful. As there was not really enough water to fish in I was going back to pick OH up at lunch time.

After we had lunch we went off to look round The Hirsel Estate. Another free, apart from car parking, place to look round. The flowers were covered in bees and butterflies and were fascinating to watch.

We looked round the museum which gives a history of the Estate itself, how it use to work  and all about the farming, river life the gardens as well as how the inside of the house ran.

There are some beautiful walks round the lake and into the woods. You can see pictures of the place here again on google+.

Later on we went for a drive heading south, our original idea was to head to Berwick, but we got diverted along the way. First off I spotted, yes you have guessed it a ruined building, and had to stop to look round Norham Castle.

Yes there is a google+ album for this as well.

We decided by this it was getting to late to keep heading south as we only had an hour until it was time to eat.  Sadly for OH on the way back I spotted a church and a graveyard  Norham Church  Churches are so peaceful and whilst there I lit a candle for a blogging friend, a blogger I don't think reads my blog but I sent her the picture anyway.

So there you have it, my holiday, not everybody's idea of fun but the joy of not having children is I can do what suits me. Thank you for sharing it with me,