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Supermarket Mince Pies - Taste Test

Mince pies, one of the true joys of Christmas, I mean nothing beats it. Homemade are best, and I am a master at the homemade pie but sometimes its just too much effort. Too much effort, or my husband decides he needs to eat them all NOW. Usually in our house it is the latter of the two, and it is always then the question "Where do we get them?"


In that spirit it's taste test time! It was decided to stick to the main four supermarkets own brands and do three categories; normal mince pies, icing topped and the "luxury". There was also the roping in of some helpers, because everyone is a bit different in tastes (read - Cara you are a food snob and perfectionist) and frankly, it was ALOT of mince pies. So, welcome to the Thunderdome, its round one...

Come Fly with Me... 2017 Edition

While everyone else is getting obsessed with pumpkin spice and red cups, this is the time of year I start thinking about holidays - its cold and I want to feel warm so I start thinking where to go next year and get that warm feeling back in my bones.

It might also have something to do with the fact I am an obsessive planner and like to save up and all that stuff.


So next year what will we be doing travel wise? Well we've already booked and paid to go back to New York in March. We both loved it and thanks to my blister the size of the Manhattan itself, we didn't do as much walking around as we wanted. Also, my in-laws wanted to go after hearing our stories so its family holiday time, which isn't something I've done since I was a tiny person so that might be interesting.

Another thing I've never done, and neither has the boy, is an all inclusive holiday. A fantastic friend got us a holiday voucher so we've been looking at just heading somewhere for the warmth and the beach once the kids go back to school/after our birthdays. We have no idea where that'll be, and honestly I'm open to all suggestions so hit me up! Spain and Italy are places we've been but otherwise we've not really done the beach thing so we are open to ideas. We were thinking of heading to California in August, and if money is good and there is no psychotic President we might, but that got put on hold because of the big one...

With everything going on politically and other things, the idea of moving to Canada came back up. The boy is looking into his citizenship (technically he should have it but it's doing the paperwork) and then next winter we are going to go and do the Canada in the snow thing. Find out if we could handle it, look into the practical stuff while we are there and all of that stuff. That's the big thing, and unlike last time where it was get over and everyone will look after you, this time its going to be more of us driving around and, like I said, the practical stuff. And maybe visiting a few filming locations.

Again this is all orange president dependent. I know its a different country but I'm not sure I'd want to be that close. They do share a boarder.

What are your travel plans for the next year??


Packing Hacks and Tricks



So I've listed the travel gadgets I really just don't see the point of, but what about those I do, and what about all the little hints and hacks that go into packing my suitcase. Lists of gizmos, ways to get more in to a small bag, and how to make your bag lighter are almost a blogging cliche. Sometimes you have to go there though, no matter how much of a cliche it all is. I'll keep it as sort and sweet as I can...

  • If you're a reader, ebooks. So much lighter and no running out of things to read. You wont regret it. FYI. one like a kindle fire can also give you music & movies.

  • A second battery for your camera takes up very little room & can be super useful if a serial snapper. Even for short trips as it can be smaller than the charger.

  • Roll your clothes, don't fold, and you can fit more in

  • Stuff smaller things (like chargers or socks) into your shoes.

  • Take solid cosmetics if you can. Multiple reasons this is good - no limit/plastic bag in carry on, no leakage and a nice soap can make your whole bag smell amazing. It can also be more useful for spot washing clothes.

  • If you do need to take liquids don't buy small ones, decant them into travel bottles. These can be brought really cheaply on eBay.

  • Make sure everything you take can be mixed and matched several ways. Obviously certain things like swimsuits not so much, but in general it saves packing.

  • Don't pack soaps next to cables. Can look like a bomb on the x-ray machine and will delay you at security if they flag it. Although it looked very funny on the monitor when they showed me.


These are my most useful tips for lighter bags, or indeed fitting in more Christmas gifts now that it's that time of year with everyone travelling home for Christmas.

Do you have any ones that you want to share? Tell us in the comments! 

Kamikaze Cocktails

I'm finally on an even keel and not running around like a lunatic so lazy Friday afternoon cocktails are back in play. I don't know about you but cocktails for me have always been summer things and winter drinking about hot chocolate and mulled wine and all of those familiar christmassy things. I have a pretty stocked drinks cabinet now so I really should make use of it.




This one actually came around because I was looking at the Domestic Sluttery email in my inbox (who else is happy they are back?) and thought I fancied a cocktail while chilling on the sofa with the cat. Is this Hygge? Anyway, this was just made with the things I had in the house, no fancy garnishes or juices. Just delicious.

This is a mix-it-in-your-shaker-and-strain job, which makes it nice and easy to size up for a few of you. Garnish with a lime wedge if you are feeling fancy.

Ingredients

A martini glass
2 shots vodka
1 shot Lime juice 
1 shot Cointreau
1tsp of Sugar Syrup
Ice for the shaker


What is your favourite Christmas/Winter flavours? Are there any drinks you've had you'd like me to try and make? Let me know in the comments. 

Taking on the Lindy Hop

I find it slightly ironic that I've started Lindy Hop classes just after binge watching Luke Cage, but it is something I've been interested in doing for a while. The history of Lindy is kinda interesting, it started its life in Harlem, and was most famously danced at the Savoy Ballroom in the 20's - if you've seen Luke Cage this is the inspiration for the Harlem's Paradise Club. So yeah its a retro dance, now with a Marvel comic's connection - could it be more me?



Seriously, the idea of going to learn has been in my head for a while I'm just a nervous idiot and honestly was afraid to go and be laughed at as the fat chick trying to Lindy. In the end it was that which got me going - out of my shell and trying to make my mental health a little better - although I still had to drag along a friend with me because I might be feeling brave but not that bloody brave! I need not have worried really, the guys in the class were great at embracing the social aspect of Lindy Hop and getting everyone dancing with everyone else. I barely saw my friend for the whole class.

The class I attended was in a bar just around the corner from work and run by Brighton Lindyhoppers who run classes pretty much every night of the week in various locations around Brighton.  They also run classes at different ability levels making it easy to drop in. The class I attended was about 50/50 first timers and others and it was really hard to tell the difference. Split first into leaders and followers, you get run through all the steps, then in turn dance with everyone opposite you, so in my case all the leaders. It sounds odd but it works really well in teaching you to be aware of your partner and listen to their "cues" - the hardest person to dance with was actually the friend I went to class with. I really loved the class and there were only one or two people, as there always are, who fit the stereotype judgmental twerps I was worried about. You know the ones I mean - they are everywhere but they really were the total minority and definitely NOT the teachers, which is always something I worry about with classes like this.

It was also a really good work out, I mean I wasn't exhausted but I definitely felt my heart rate pumping and that energizing feeling that you get after exhausting all your energy. I came back so obviously chuffed that now Oliver is thinking of coming with me to classes (although he wants me to have it to myself for a while first). Maybe I could get good at this, hey maybe we will even go dancing in Harlem next time we're in New York.

Do you take any classes, or do anything like this with your partner? Let me know how it works for you in the comments

Black cats need love too

Right now as I write this the handsome boy, our little black cat Pippin, is having a bath on the bed and purring away like a motor engine. He's been here a while now and its official, we get to keep the little lunatic.

He's a lovely little chap if a bit bonkers, he's now meowing and trying to climb the wardrobe to eat the fly that landed on the door. Every morning now hes curled up on the bed at my feet waiting for the alarm to go off (it means breakfast) and when I'm curled up watching netflix he comes and sits with me and snuggles. He likes tuna but otherwise I can't tempt him him anything I'm eating really. He is such a sweet little boy I can't believe it took him over five months to find a new home. Obviously I'm happy because that means he lives here with us but it does make me sad.

Maybe its because he is a black cat, apparently they spend way longer waiting to be rehomed because of superstition or (according to the RSPCA) they are less photogenic. You what now?? I mean really look at this handsome chap.

Today is Black Cat Day, a day celebrating how wonderful these little guys are. It's not hard to get into the spirit of it really, I mean look at the boy. He actually loves wearing a bow tie so much, I'm getting him a Christmas one (he lost the first one sadly). He spends most of the night sleeping on the bed with us, he's there when we nod off and he's there when the alarm goes off. He stays curled up until we move, then he knows its breakfast time, the same as he sits by the cupboard with his food, not meowing just sitting, when he's hungry. He has a very funny meow, and he LOVES catnip.

Pippin came to us with a little blue mouse toy and its like his security blanket - does he love his other toys of course, but blue mouse is his favourite. He is quite shy, but eventually will come and see people, but when its just the three of us he sits on the table looking at the sofa, or snuggles next to me. Lately, he's taken to sleeping on the bed in the evenings if the doors are open enough (that he can see us). He guards me in the bath, but isn't stupid enough to come too close.

The crux? He's an affectionate and lovely boy, and he was passed over for months because he's a little shy to start with, but mostly because he's a black cat. So what, he's a sweetheart, and if you're thinking of adopting don't discount the ones like him because they might give you the most love.





APoV's Blogger's Christmas Gift Swap! (& getting out of my shell)


I know, I know, its way too early to think about Christmas but honestly, who doesn't love a Secret Santa? This year I decided to get involved in Viola's Blogger Gift Swap, I'm trying to be a bit more out there and plus, its a Secret Santa type deal and I LOVE THOSE.

This isn't actually a Secret Santa as such, as there is hashtag #apovgiftswap so we can chat before hand and get to know each other which is great. I need to get out of my little circle and this is just the right thing for me. Its really easy to get involved in this so I don't feel like its a clique-y thing I have no part of, all you need to do if you want to join in is.... 

Fill in the google application here 
Write a blog post within 5 days of receiving your confirmation email (Ta DA!!!!)
Send a couple of gifts to your matched partner by 17th December 
Write a post about your gifts (must include photos) after you have received them
Send Viola the link to your blog post so she can see how the event has gone!

Deadline to sign up is November 1st, and then as soon as she can after that Viola will let us know who we are partnered with so we can get to know them via twitter and the aforementioned hashtag. Then just before Christmas Santa comes a calling!! 

I'm really excited to see who I get and then, of course, start thinking of gifts!!