Christmas Dinner Made Easy with HelloFresh

There’s definitely a recurring theme on here this month; I’ve already hinted that you can make Christmas shopping easier with prefilled stockings, how you can tick off some of that list for your label-loving person in your life and now I bring good news about a great, stress free way to simplifying the Christmas day dinner with a HelloFresh Christmas box.

I’m no stranger to HelloFresh deliveries and have written about them a couple of times already so it’s no surprise that I’m a big fan of their festive box. For those not in the know, HelloFresh is a subscription meal delivery which you cook from scratch. You get an easy-to-follow-recipe card and high quality, pre-portioned fresh ingredients so they time allocated on each card it true, there’s no weighing or measuring. It also takes the hassle out of planning your meals for the week, I’m terrible at thinking of new things to cook, most weeks, I don’t have time to browse through with my recipe books, HelloFresh is a much quicker way of making sure my family get fresh, healthy meals.

And the Christmas box is no different.

You get all ingredients, including a turkey, along with a step by step recipe card. It starts you off prepping for the day before, giving times and foolproof instructions. And with the music cranked up, it was all girls in the kitchen (although had I not been severely jet lagged, I’m pretty sure I’d have managed to cook this on my own.)

On the menu were;

Butter Basted Roast Turkey with Pigs in Blankets

The BEST Rosemary Roast Potatoes

Creamy Brussel Sprouts with Garlic and Pancetta

Honey & Thyme Roasted Root Veggies

Slow Cooked Spiced Red Cabbage with Apples

Rich and Delicious Make Ahead Gravy

This was the first time I’d make a ‘proper’ gravy, like mums do, and was absolutely lush, it’s quite hard to pick out a favourite from everything we cooked. The slow cooked spiced red cabbage got a huge thumbs up, the creamy brussel sprouts with garlic and pancetta were probably, at a push, top of my yum list. (for the record, I’m in camp brussels, and cooked this way took that bitter taste away making them even more delicious.

I bring good news about a great, stressfree way to simplifying the Christmas day dinner with a HelloFresh Christmas box.


Our box came pre packed with enough to feed 4 people, but I’d say it would feed a couple more comfortabl,  no need to worry if there’ll be enough. HelloFresh offers Christmas boxes for 4, 6, 8 or 10 people with the option of adding a pudding on. At £69.99 for the 4 person box, it’s not the cheapest way of doing Christmas dinner, but you’re guaranteed fresh quality ingredients (which I can vouch for having used them for over a year now on and off.) And it saves time on going out to buy everything, it’s almost too easy having a box delivered straight to your door.

It almost like cheating, but I’m all for time savers and as I said previously, there was more than enough for 4 people so you’ll still get your boxing day bubble and squeak!.

I bring good news about a great, stressfree way to simplifying the Christmas day dinner with a HelloFresh Christmas box.


This is a collaborative post, I was gifted a HelloFresh Christmas box for the purpose of this review 


Christmas Shopping for Label Lovers

Try as you might, there’s no avoiding it, most teenagers will always want to go with the fashion or peer pressure having the right labels. My eldest 2 are no different, while they’re not so utterly consumed by keeping up with the Jones’ (no Kardashians here, it’s Devon. Give us a few more years and we’ll be there.) having the right trainers will always give them bragging rights. It’s just it can be rather expensive for us parents, don’t get me wrong, my eldest is old enough to get his own. But we’ve recently had that Christmas list conversation and gone are the Lego kits, it’s now all about the fashion.

If that sounds familiar, then keep reading as I’ve got a suggestion on how you can help tick off some of that Christmas shopping list without making a massive dent in your credit card. So let’s just say that your teen (or partner, should add that it’s not just confined to them) is throwing massive hints at a few designer clothes? Then I can totes recommend Get The Label for a starting point.

It’s like an Aladdin’s Cave of goodies which my boys went crazy for. I may or may not have indulged in a new gym outfit while browsing too, (believe me, if you’ve got the right tools for the job, it does help, starting with a pair of leggings which don’t fall down and a crop top that won’t ride up. True story.)

I've got a suggestion on how you can help tick off some of that Christmas shopping list without making a massive dent in your credit card.

My eldest teen has a thing for coats. You know that phrase about a woman never having too many shoes, (that is a thing isn’t it? or did I make that up? ) well his mantra is A 17-year-old boy can never have too many coats. And remember, you read it here first if that is ever quoted anywhere else. So anyway, I’ve indulged that thing with a new bomber jacket.

Middle teen isn’t so clothing label conscious, (yet)  it’s all about the trainers for him. We’re pretty much at the point where I can no longer fob him off with cheaper look-alikes, or sharpie markering a logo on a sensible pair (yes, I have actually done that.) Luckily he found a pair of Addidas trainers nearly half the rrp. I have no doubt we’ll be heading back over there next month as this boy grows like bamboo so I have a deep-rooted aversion to buying him things full price when he’s only getting a couple of months wear out them.

I've got a suggestion on how you can help tick off some of that Christmas shopping list without making a massive dent in your credit card.

And lastly my little wee man didn’t go without either, he’ll be looking dapper this Christmas in the cutest Ben Sherman t-shirt and jeans. I know he has no idea what a designer label is, and given the choice would rather be dressed as Chase from Paw Patrol. However, there are the odd occasions when I do like to make an effort with his outfit and not dress him like a typical 3rd child of a mum who’s happy for him to take full control of his outfit, just as long as it’s clean and weather appropriate.

To top it off, at the time of writing this, I’ve just noticed that there’s a great Black Friday offer over on the website too.

I've got a suggestion on how you can help tick off some of that Christmas shopping list without making a massive dent in your credit card.

This is a collaborative post with Get The Label

Quick And Easy Makeover for a Dark Bathroom

One thing  I’ve learned from living through a big house renovation project is to get advice and opinions from other people. It’s been a few years now since I completed mine, and there are a few things I wish I’d done differently, one is not taking out a few windows. I mean, seriously, what was I thinking? Thanks to poor decision-making (there may have been a good reason for it, but if there was I don’t remember) I have a windowless shower / bathroom room.

I’m not completely irrational, I did install a fan to help with the steam, but this also means that each time a person goes in there, which is fairly often being our downstairs loo, the fan goes on. Which can be quite annoying when that person forgets to turn the light on when they leave!

and guess what, I’ve found an easy fix for that problem……

We now have a new Lumino led illuminated mirror installed when we need a light in there but not the fan! And the easy thing about it is it’s battery powered so no need to call out an electrician to install it. Although I did call on my stepdad and his drill to help out.

It creates a subtle, cosy glow and a pride of place feature in our once stark and bare shower room. I used the opportunity to update the colour scheme in there too before the mirror was fitted, it’s amazing how quickly a room dates! Gone are the boring cream canvas and stark lighting, it’s been replaced with a cool, but modern olive green, making my white sanitary wear stand out, and warmed up with dark ornaments and wooden towel holders to warm it up.

Going green was a big leap of faith for me, I’ve been stuck in a grey and white phase for a few years now, but I fancied going brave in the bathroom, dramatic and cosy was my motivation, with a darker backdrop to help the illuminated mirror as the centre piece, as well as giving a classy feel to the room.

And I’m actually really, rather pleased with the results!

My super easy bathroom makeover with a new Lumino led illuminated mirror. And, even better, it's battery powered!


This is a collaborative post with Lumino


Clever Christmas Shopping With Hawkins Bazaar

Is there really any need for the Christmas rush?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the last minute dash into town to grab the last few presents, it’s part of the final countdown. What I’m not happy about is the lack of time to mooch around the shops at a leisurely pace and buy things as I go, that seriously kills my budget! Or then there’s getting to Christmas eve and having a niggling doubt that I’ve forgotten to buy for one of my 2 children (once you get past 2 kids, it’s easy to overlook one! Or that just me?)I (try) to stick to a budget for each of my boys, all exactly the same and this in its self is a whole maths game as I write down what I’ve bought and tot up the numbers, sibling equality is a HUGE thing for me, as it always was for my parents.

I (try) to stick to a budget for each of my boys, spending exactly the same of each of them which, in its self is a whole maths game as I write down what I’ve bought and tot up the numbers. Sibling equality is a HUGE thing for me, as it always was for my parents. And guess what! I’ve found a much seasier way of saving time, making sure you’ve got the spending all fair and square AND no child is going to wake up on Christmas morning eyeballing their brothers stocking fillers while they sit peeling their satsuma, muttering “worst Christmas ever” under their breaths.

(Should probably add, that’s never happened and that my boys haven’t been brought up to be like that, but it’s still something I’m conscious of)

Why Choose Hawkins Bazaar?

So anyway, that thing I’m hinting at is a Hawkins Bazaar pre-filled stockings. I’ve had a gander at the teenage boys and young boys sets and am feeling very smug right now that I’m well on my way to completing my shopping, giving me more time for Christmas movies and finding a new set of sparkly heels to dance away the festive season.

Weighing in at £25 each and filled with over £50 worth of stocking fillers it’s a no-brainer really. This shop has been my go-to for stocking fillers for many years, so I was fairly confident at taking the plunge and letting them choose what would be suitable for my requirements. In the past, I’ve spent time trying to find the best offers and make the biggest savings. Buying a pre filled stocking, with double the value contents saves all that bother.

What’s Inside?

The Teenager boys (14 plus) stocking came with some great little presents which were perfect for my Marvel loving boys as well as a few thing I wouldn’t have considered buying but actually, I think they would like. I forget about getting toys now they’re older, but in reality, I think they’d quite like the silly little things like the wind-up zombie and model plane kit. Chalk mug, mmmm, not sure I’m looking forward to seeing what they write on these!

Is there really any need for the Christmas rush? The Hawkins Bazaar pre-filled stockings made my Christmas shopping a breeze.

As for the boy’s 3 plus stocking, this is just what I would’ve bought, I’m not keen on the tattoos, have you ever tried to get those things off? but it’s not about what I like, is it! Great to see some old favourites in there too. No childhood is complete without watching a wooden, fluffy haired bird pecking his way down a metal pole. Same goes for the collapsing toy and I’m sensing some Christmas day races with these glider kits!

Is there really any need for the Christmas rush? The Hawkins Bazaar pre-filled stockings made my Christmas shopping a breeze.

Actually feeling REALLY smug right now, that was such an easy a way to get a start on the Christmas shopping! Next stop, sparkly shoes


This is a collaborative post



Imagine traveling abroad on a (nearly) 9-hour flight, navigating your way around a sort of familiar airport, relaxing for 20 minutes in a luxurious airport transfer and stepping out to a hotel lobby that sparks the simple words “wow.” Well, I did that, along with my 3, 13 and 17-year-old sons and the hotel I’m talking about was the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando Resort.

Staff at the front, helping you unload your luggage and giving you that typical American warm welcome was a hint of things to come and if I’m honest, being on site on the Universal Resorts, I was kinda expecting a more well, gimicky, kid theme. Oh, how wrong was I!

It soon became apparent that not only was I to experience a taste of Floridian life, I also got a sampler of a South Seas Pacific holiday. think palm trees, elephant statues, colorful Balinese umbrellas and reflection pools, along with a distinct floral scent filled the air. All senses were in overdrive!

Checking into the vast, dark wood reception area, while the boys tucked into the complimentary lemon water, we were given with our room keys (which also acted as fast pass and early entry to Universal theme parks) as well as our flower lei leis. For a moment my fuzzy, jet-lagged brain toyed with the thought we’d ended up at the wrong hotel, maybe even the wrong country. But I liked what I saw so was in no need to question it!

Plus, it soon became apparent that this was just what we would need to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy theme parks nearby.

Facilities at The Royal Pacific

It depends on what your expectations are for a holiday, but for 2 teenagers and a 3-year-old, high light of the whole stay was and always is, the swimming pool. With free use of towels and chair covers, we set up base here as soon as we’d unpacked. I liked that the whole swimming pool area is gated off too, no chance of my lively little one darting off for an unexpected swim!

Once we found our spot, my favourite being in the sanded area where there was a very gentle slope into the pool, the boys were off! It’s safe to say that some of my best and happiest moments on this holiday were watching my 3 play together here. The younger 2 often went straight to the Royal Bali Sea interactive water play area, while the eldest chilled in the hot tub,(jealous me? Yep, big time!) but they regularly regrouped to mess about in the pool, watch movies or play water polo and with the Despicable Me beach balls provided. moments like these were priceless. It’s not often the 4 of us get to relax and have fun like this, I had total proud mum moments every time!

When I needed some chill time, the kid’s pool was the perfect spot. Gated off from the main area, it was shallow enough for my 3-year-old to play on his own while I read a book on the (very nearby) lounger especially with the bonus of a sandy area complete with toys. As a single parent holidaying without back up childcare, it was just what I needed, and while the thought of escaping off to the gym or the spa would have been my ideal time out, this was a much welcome 2nd choice.

There are several restaurants onsite too, we had pizzas at Jake’s American Bar and nachos poolside. Staff comes round regularly while you’re chilling by the pool, checking if you need anything. Being waited on hand and foot was simply divine and the food portion sizes were something else. Considering I have 2 teenagers with very big appetites, 1 nachos snack dish was enough for us all, with leftovers.

Being part of the Universal Resort, you also get complimentary water taxis to Universal City Walk which is where you access the theme parks. It’s a very gentle 5-minute ride, just what you need after a busy day, saying that, I really liked the walk to and from the hotel to City Walk. Either way, you go through security every time, there was never a moment I didn’t feel safe here.


There is also a small beach style area away from the swimming pool, using the same waterway that the water taxis travel. We never made it here on our stay, in an ideal world, we’d have had a couple more days to chill at the hotel and break our theme park days up a little. But the real beauty of staying on site, at a Universal Resort hotel, is that you can come and go as you please. When we’d burnt out at the theme parks, we simply headed back to recharge at the hotel. It was total escapism.


To stay on site at The Royal Pacific Hotel or not?

Not having to worry about parking was a huge plus, considering the type of holiday it was, with the thrills and spills of Islands of Adventure and all the experiences at Universal Studios, 10 minutes after leaving City Walk, you were on a quiet, relaxing stroll or ride back to your hotel. I can’t tell you enough just how much easier this was. It’s not the first time I’ve been to Orlando, my first visit we stayed offsite in Lake Beuna Vista and did car hire. This was by far much more convenient and although we didn’t have time on this break to get out and about, not having the stress of parking, and driving in another country meant it was a total stress-free break.

In a nutshell…..

Beds you can sink into after a long day, complimentary water delivered to your door every evening, quality restaurants on site, a gym, spa, arcade, kids club (sadly my 3-year-old was just too young to try.) evening outdoor movies played by the pool you can even bob away in the water while watching, or simply stretch out on a lounger. There was everything we needed for a luxurious break, without having to sacrifice a thing simply because it was a family holiday.

So did we enjoy our stay?

I don’t want to go home

– Ky age 13

I want to go back to our holiday home

– Ronnie age 3 ( every day since we got back)


Part 1 of our holiday – Visiting Universal Resorts with a Preschooler is here if you’d like to read more 


This was part of a collaboration between Mumsnet Bloggers Network  and Universal Orlando Resort