Trolley Bags – Review

The weekend we moved to Wales, almost five years ago, was the weekend the carrier bag charge was introduced. And to be honest, we’re still a bit hit and miss as to whether or not we’ve remembered to keep the boot stocked… and taken the bags out of the boot!

I’m more organised when we’re going into a shopping centre, there’s a mission involved. And I’m pretty good if I’ve got a big shop in mind. But it’s the general shopping when we tend to get caught out.

So, the opportunity to review Trolley Bags was one I couldn’t pass up. Because, unlike all our other bags, there’s no temptation to use them for any other purpose.Trolley Bags ExpressTrolley Bags come in Original (full size trolley) and Express (half-size trolley) and in pastel and bright colours). Designed as four different sized bags, they all connect with Velcro.Trolley Bags ExpressThe design means they hang on your trolley as you fill your trolley, and once everything is on the conveyor belt the integrated rails can be placed open in the shopping trolley, making it really easy to pack your purchases.Trolley Bags ExpressIt makes it so easy to categorise your shopping rather than panicking as you fill up your shopping bags and try to load your trolley in a desperate plight not to lose pace with the rate of everything being scanned. For this shop, I was topping up on school uniform purchases to they went into the smallest trolley. We were getting treat things for movie night so all cupboard food went into the large bags, fridge things into one and freezer into the other. Which makes it much easier when you get home and bags can go nearest where the purchases need to end up.

And, because there’s no chance of using the bags for anything other than their purpose, it becomes second nature to put them back in the boot of the car when you’ve stocked the kitchen. Trolley Bags My one criticism of the bags is they don’t work so well when you’re on a self-service aisle. Trying to put all the bags back into the trolley once they are full is a bit of a bind.

Conversely, they work perfectly with ‘Scan as you Shop’, as you can basically categorise as you go round the supermarket and you get all the convenience of the bags, and a step in the process is still removed.

At £19.99 the bags are an investment, lots of 5ps to save up. But, given how much we’ve spent on carrier bags over the past 5 years, I’m certain we’ll make the money back quickly. The added convenience definitely reduces stress from the shop and makes things far easier from shop to home.

Trolley Bags are available at £19.99.

Disclosure: We received Trolley Bags for the purpose of this review. All opinions and views contained are our own.


Teachers Homemade Gifts- Ice Cream Hamper

I’m not sure why it started but creating a hamper at Christmas and the end of year for the teaching team at school has become a bit of a thing.

At the end of the last school year we had fun creating a gardening themed gift, this year with the weather pretending we were going to experience a sun-filled summer we decided on an ice-cream themed hamper.Teachers Ice Cream HamperOne of the things I always struggle with is what to put our hampers in. As we make hampers for the LSAs and teachers, this for us totals 8 (and I hate to think what it will be next year with B & E going into separate classes!). Baskets tend to add to the expense, and yet aren’t what the gift is about. This year, coincidentally I bought the children a load of shoes in the Clarks’ sale and I decided to use them by covering the boxes in brown paper and getting the children to decorate them and lined with tissue paper. Perfectly individual and really, really low-cost.

We filled the hamper with:

  • Ice-cream sprinkles
  • Salted caramel sauce
  • Malteser Vodka
  • Ice-cream tubs
  • Ice-cream spoons
  • Napkins
  • Cocktail umbrellas

There were other things we could have included, such as ice-cream cones or an ice-cream scoop, or you could go with sundae glasses if you had more pennies to spend. As it was for us, the contents fitted perfectly in a shoe box, and we wrapped with cellophane as the lid wouldn’t fit.

I did change the presentation from the version above by separating the tubs and placing the sprinkles into the tub.Teachers Ice Cream Hamper GoodiesThe tubs, napkins, spoons and umbrellas all came from Dotcomgiftshop. The sprinkles were from Asda and Morrisons. I thought they’d look better (and cement the clue that there was an ice-cream theme!) putting them in cellophane bags (from The Works) and adding a topper which matched the tubs and napkins. I created them on Picmonkey and printed them as nine to a page of card which seemed to work. I then cut them folded in half and stapled them over the filled cellophane bag.Confetti ice-cream hamper printableFor the home-made gifts I must admit to finding convenience this year over previous experiments.

Both the vodka and caramel sauce were presented in jars which needed sterilising. 

I sterilised them by washing in hot, soapy water, rinsing, and them placing in an oven, fan heated at 120 degrees celsius for 15 minutes.For the Malteser Vodka I added 70g of maltesers per 100mls of vodka and mixed in a Nutribullet until blended. You do need to do this a few days in advance and shake every day as it’s really about the maltesers melting into the vodka. Using the Nutribullet takes the stress out of the process with (according to Mr J) delicious results.
Teachers Ice Cream toppersThis year I decided to try making the caramel sauce using a slow cooker. The results definitely worked but were a little trial and error.

The best way was to put baking paper in the bottom of the slow cooker, put tins of condensed milk on top, fill with water until the tins are covered. Either put the slow cooker on low for 18 hours or on high for 10 hours. 

Take out of the water and leave until completely cool. Open the tin and fold in sea salt to taste.

Fill up the jars and seal shut.


And they were hopefully well received and consumed!

Good coffee at Academy Espresso Bar – Barry

I function on coffee. I wish it weren’t true. I’m weak like that.
Although I guess it’s another sign that I’m getting old that I drink herbal tea in the afternoon, more than ever appreciating the effect of caffeine.
But good coffee, well, it’s a holy grail.
So discovering a new place locally that meets the brief. It deserves a little happy dance (no doubt caffeine induced).Academy Espresso Bar Barry - Good CoffeeBarry’s pumping station has seen a complete overhaul, and now features Academy Espresso Bar. Within this grade II listed building, the decor of the place instantly makes me feel happy.Academy Espresso Bar Barry - Good CoffeeWith the kind of leather armchairs I always imagined having in my home thanks to Carrie Bradshaw, the industrial flooring not only is in keeping with the design but also serves an additional function, in making the place very pooch friendly.Academy Espresso Bar Barry - Good CoffeeIt’s also very parent friendly, I had to recite “do not approach the mum of twins” over and over as I people-watched so many parents enjoying a bit of time in these gorgeous surroundings.Academy Espresso Bar Barry - Good Coffee Because as you sit, you are able to take the time to breathe it all in.Academy Espresso Bar Barry - Good CoffeeThese features which only serve to make you happy.
Academy Espresso Bar Barry - Good Coffee And I have never tasted an almond croissant quite as delicious.Latte & Almond Croissant With coffee which more than stands up to the mark.Academy Espresso Bar Barry - Good Coffee And great company, of course.Academy Espresso Bar Barry - Good CoffeeNow, I just need to find out if there’s wi-fi. 

And if they’ll put up with me working there every once in a while*.

(*Which probably means at least once a week).


Jamie’s Italian Super Lunch Menu Review

When the sun is shining and you get to spend time with friends and/ or family, I’d have to say I enjoy nothing more than sitting down with good food and drinks to while away some time. And this week I got to spend some time with my best girls at Jamie’s Italian in Cardiff to enjoy the super lunch menu.Jamie's Italian CardiffWe really couldn’t have planned it better to take advantage of the half term good weather, and we were able to enjoy watching the world go by as we dined on The Hayes in Cardiff. And whilst it couldn’t have been more perfect for four women and a baby, I couldn’t help but think eating inside or out, the atmosphere created really works.Jamie's Italian CardiffWith enough time to while away the afternoon we managed to get through the three courses of the Super Lunch Menu. Available between 12.00-18.00 Monday to Friday, and priced £10.95 for two courses or £12.95 for three, it really does offer value for money, especially in the city centre. 

For starters we went for the Fritto Misto and Pâté Bruschetta. As a huge lover of fish (and mocked in work for my tendency to always go for squid in restaurants), the Fritto Misto was perfect, the garlic and lemon aioli was a great accompaniment and the batter was so light it didn’t overwhelm or over-faze. Jamie's Italian Fritto MistoThe Pâté Bruschetta was picture perfect, with pancetta, vin santo & Parmesan it didn’t last long. Jamie's Italian Pate BruschettaFor mains we went with Spaghetti Primavera and the Superfood Salad. Jamie's Italian Spaghetti PrimaveraThe superfood salad featured roasted beets, fennel, quinoa, black rice, curly kale, sprouting broccoli and  pomegranate and was perfect and similar to the favourite salads I pick up on lunch breaks when working away. It was accompanied with avocado and spicy harissa & creamy cottage cheese, at this point I wished I had read the menu more closely, I don’t do spicy and wished I had the foresight to have requested it without the harissa, as it was one of those things I kept eating because it was delicious… as my senses streamed.Jamie's Italian Super Food SaladIt’s fair to see we’re all dessert girls, and unlike our mains we ended up selecting one of each from the menu: chocolate orange cheesecake (Brownies were off, but it was great to have an alternative option offered); orange blossom polenta cake; strawberries and frozen yoghurt; and chocolate ice-cream with berry compote and smashed honeycomb.
And they were, of course, absolutely lush.Jamie's Italian Chocolate Orange Cheesecake Jamie's Italian Chocolate Ice-cream, Berry Compote, Smashed Honeycomb Jamie's Italian Strawberries & Frozen Yoghurt Jamie's Italian Orange Blossom Polenta CakeThe three courses were delicious, more than filling, they definitely offered value for money. The service was prompt without being overbearing, and as my latest bugbear in restaurants is how long it takes to pay, I was really impressed that from beginning to end there was no waiting around. The relaxed atmosphere of summer days was definitely achieved and enjoyed.

Disclosure: We were invited to try the Super Lunch Menu by Jamie’s Italian, Cardiff. All views and opinions contained are our own.

Siblings – May 2016

I’m sharing my Siblings post with a hint of pride in them, especially, but also this time in my improving skills behind the camera.

My new camera arrived last week, my 30th birthday present from hubby.
All of the photography skills I learned from Sara-Jayne were brought to the fore, as I took the photographs I had wanted to take for years.
After so long seeing siblings in fields of yellow.

It will be a long time before I am happy with my photographs, the same problem I had with my Theatre Studies A-Level, the more you learn the more you critique.

But, oh, the fields of yellow.
And these three.

I am learning.

There’s no point in asking these three to look at a camera- no amount of requests for chants of rude words will achieve that.

Ask them to show affection.

That’s what mine were made for.Siblings May 2016 Siblings May 2016 Siblings May 2016

The Me and Mine Project

Lego Dream House Competition

Well, I missed up entirely on this one according to CM, problems with a memory card means these couldn’t be shared in time for the Ocean Finance Lego Dream Homes Competition.
But CM was so excited about her creation, and to be honest so was I, that I agreed that I’d still share it.
CM is very excited about the prospect of moving house, albeit it’s not going to be on the agenda until I have a bit more job security, but since new homes started popping up around the corner from us, there’s been much interest in how homes are built.
CM started off as a good architect should, with a plan of what her home essentials would be.Lego house creationShe set to build, using predominantly the Lego from her Disney Castle and Friends collections, as they had the “colour range” she was seeking- I think this meant the flowers and diamonds. Lego house creationShe wasn’t happy that we didn’t have windows on the front, so tried to find a window which would mean the side of the house could be one big window, whilst we didn’t manage that, we did find a window over the side of the house, which also meant B & E could have their way in adding a ladder straight up to the roof. Lego house creationThe interiors were where CM’s imagination really came into play, the essentials of a bed, and a sofa, and a table to eat and drink. Lego house creationAnd when it came to the roof, well, CM’s logic really did beat mine. She decided she wanted a swimming pool roof. So, the blue roof was chosen, and a tap.
But then CM realised there wasn’t a desk for her to do her drawings on, and as it wouldn’t fit in the house, it went on the roof. I questioned the practicality of this. But it seemed what would be wrong with your feet getting wet once you started work? And, showing due consideration, a bag was added “So things don’t need to go on the floor like they do in your office mummy.”
Lego house creation

And so, this is CM’s dream house- functional, practical and full of colour.

Disclosure: We were sent a Lego Creative Building Box to enable this creation.

Smoothies – preparing in advance for a healthy week

If you follow my instagram account you’ll know I’m trying to improve my diet by introducing smoothies and overnight oats each day, focusing on my evening meal as predominately vegetables as the main element, with meat as a side.

I am trying to lose weight, but more importantly I’m trying to have a better diet, making choices which don’t feel like I’m going without, but supplementing with better choices.

One of the main difficulties is that chocolate keeps forever and my fruit and vegetables don’t, but rather than admit defeat I decided to look at different options.

With my overnight oats, the introduction of frozen berries has meant I’m never without my fruit topping, a pint of milk and a pot of no-fat yoghurt can last the week, and I can make my pots up in advance if I’m feeling organised.

Smoothies required a bit more thought, attractive looking smoothies are always welcomed by the little people, but I wanted to introduce good foods to my diet, so I’ve opted for the following ratios:

2 cups leafy greens

3 cups fruit

2 cups liquid

And used the equivalent of 50g/ 100mls = 1 cup, which is just my approach and does create a great mix.

The benefit of planning in this way is that you can stock up your freezer to ensure you have smoothies for the week and you won’t find any fruits or leaves which can only become waste.

As smoothies taste better a bit colder, by freezing the ingredients there’s no need to add ice.

Freezing ingredients for smoothies

The recipe below shows some of the variations I’ve been enjoying:

Healthy Smoothies
Serves 1
An options approach to smoothies
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
  1. 100g of leaves, such as spinach or kale
  2. 3x 50g of fruit, such as raspberries, strawberries, mango, pineapple, blueberries, and as equivalents, 1/2 banana, 1/2 avocado, 1 kiwi fruit.
  3. 200mls liquid, such as water, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, coconut water, yoghurt.
  4. As a meal supplement add either 50g oats or a spoonful of protein powder or nut butter.
  5. For added nutrition add a tablespoon of chia seeds or flax seeds.
  6. For added taste add cacao powder, cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla to taste.
  1. Add 1/2 frozen ingredients and liquid and blend until smooth.
  2. Add remain frozen ingredients and blend.
  3. Add dry ingredients to taste.
An Organised Mess