39 articles Tag Review

Men’s Armani Jeans at infinities.co.uk (review)

Not to be too reductive, but I think there are two types of people in the world – those who love clothes shopping and those who hate it. My Husband falls firmly into the latter category. He loves to buy new things, especially jeans, but spending hours trawling the shops is a personal horror for him so he does the majority of his clothes shopping online. I do think that shopping for clothes online is a LOT easier for men because their sizes tend to be a lot more standardised. As a woman, a size 16 in one shop can seem more like a size 12 in others, whereas for men, a 36″ waist is pretty much the same wherever you shop.

Just recently, Husband discovered Infinities, a shop which has 11 stores around the UK, as well as a big online presence, and sells all of the best labels for men, from Armani to Stone Island to Adidas Originals, Victorinox, New Balance and many more. They asked if Husband would like to choose something from their range to review, so he chose some new jeans (everyone always needs jeans!) from the Armani J21 range (click on the image to be taken to the website):

Men's Armani Jeans

In terms of men’s fashion, Husband is really not keen on a lot of the current styles of jeans as they all seem to be skinny in the leg, which makes them impossible to wear if you’re a lifelong cyclist with decent thighs, so he was really pleased to find a jean which was a regular fit with a straight leg. Obviously, being Armani, they were exactly as good quality as you’d expect them to be with a really dark wash and thick fabric. Husband is 5″10′ and these came up about an inch too long in the leg, but that’s not too much of a problem when your wife is handy with a sewing machine. They were a great fit in the waist though, exactly the ‘true-to-size’ fit we’d hoped they’d be.

Another thing Husband liked about these jeans is the lack of logos. There’s a tiny silver Armani logo on the pocket and a black leather belt patch sewn on the waistband, but other than that they’re very low key- Husband likes nice clothes but he hates feeling like a walking brand advert, so these were perfect.

Delivery was really quick and the website was really easy to navigate. There’s tons of bargains to be had on the site and there’s loads of stuff on there which would make lovely Christmas gifts for the males in your life.

Head over to Infinities.co.uk for more information and to look at their ranges.

Back to School with Smiggle (review)

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid if there was one thing which could make me feel better about going back to school it was new stationery, so when Smiggle got in touch and asked if we’d like some goodies for Sausage to make the back to school transition a bit nicer, of course I agreed! Her bundle arrived today to MUCH excitement. We were sent the following:

smiggle-glitter-markers

Smiggle Glitter Markers – £10

milk-shake-carton-scented-pencil-caseSmiggle Milkshake Carton Scented Pencil Case – £11.50

neon-watchSmiggle Neon Watch – £13.50

smiggle colour change pencilsSmiggle Scented Colour-Change Pencils – £1.50 each (£6)

smiggle scented lipstick eraserSmiggle Scented Glitter Lipstick Eraser – £2

I’m not going to lie; the levels of stationery-related hysteria were at an all time high last night. Sausage spent about an hour testing out her new gear, drawing with her pencils and colouring in with her pens. I swear, she even made deliberate mistakes just so that she could use her eraser. She was sad that her class has a no-pencil case rule so she couldn’t take them in to school with her but she wore her watch and proudly showed off the touch-activated face to anyone within earshot.

From a parental point of view, all of the stuff she was sent was really high quality (and the pencil case smelled good enough to eat!). It’s probably a little more than we’d usually spend on stationery items but the unique designs means that they felt quite special compared to ‘normal’ pens and pencils. I think they’d probably make really nice gifts for kids of Sausage’s age, especially the watch which comes in various different colours. Smiggle vouchers would probably also go down really well as just the name “Smiggle” seems to instil excitement in kids (and me, if I’m being really honest; I’m a sucker for stationary).

Without wishing to use the “C” word too much, I think a lot of the smaller items like pencils and rubbers would make really nice stocking fillers at Christmas, and I believe Smiggle also does an advent calendar which I just know Sausage is going to want.

All in all we were really pleased with Sausage’s Smiggle goodies and I know we’ll be heading to the Smiggle store, next time we’re in Lakeside. Thanks to Smiggle for our stationary stash.

Review: Simply Be Women’s Clothing

For me, clothes fall into categories; things you need and things you want. Just recently, having found myself down a dress size, a lot of stuff has ended up in the need column because lots of my old clothes are now a little big. I’m not a natural shopper for SO many reasons; I don’t really like actually being in shops because I just get more and more disheartened when I can’t find anything I like and I never seem to be able to find anything I like when I’m under pressure so shopping from home is far easier for me.

Just recently, I’ve been trying to find a pair of well-fitting sports leggings to wear when I exercise and it’s been tougher than you’d think, probably because I’m a bit fussy. I can’t stand it when leggings aren’t elasticated enough to stay up properly when you’re moving around or when they get baggy knees after a few hours. I also, compared to the rest of my body, don’t have massive legs, so lots of brands come up okay on the waist but baggy in the legs – not a good look! A while ago, Simply Be asked if I’d like to try a pair of their leggings and also choose a few other bits from their range, and obviously I said yes! If you’ve seen my Instagram this week, you’ll have seen a few of the garments I chose:

Simply Be Ripped Skinny Jeans

Simply Be Light Grey Split Back Top

I also chose a shirt and some basic vests:

 

Weirdly, I haven’t got a picture of me in the shirt…I say “weirdly” because I’ve basically worn it to death since I’ve had it! Husband and I went to London last Friday to see one of our favourite comedians, Bill Burr, at the Hammersmith Apollo and the ripped jeans and t-shirt were the perfect outfit; comfy enough to sit in for a couple of ours (plus 4 hours driving and the stress of car trouble, but that’s another story!) but the little details like the ripped effect on the jeans that the split back on the t-shirt made it feel a little bit more than just a jeans and t-shirt.

Miraculously, the leggings are also a really good fit. They stay up without needing to be constantly hauled up at the waist and I wore them all day long without ending up with baggy knees, which is basically all of my boxes ticked!

I’m really impressed with the quality, sizing and also the prices of Simply Be clothing; all of these bits came to £92, which I don’t think is bad at all for 5 tops and two pairs of bottoms. I’d definitely recommend Simply Be if you’re looking for a good shopping experience from the comfort of your own home, high quality clothing at decent prices and some really pretty choices.

Our First Wagamama Experience

WagamamaOne thing that we love to do as a family is eat out, especially at places we’ve never tried before, so when Wagamama offered us the chance to go along and try their menu, we were really excited. Despite the fact that we’re all Japanophiles, with a shared love of their food and culture, we’ve never been to Wagamama before so yesterday was a whole new experience for us.

As soon as we walked in, the thing which struck me was the actual style of dining; the tables were set up into long rows of benches, rather than isolated little islands in the dining area which is the usual English way. It was different in a “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto” kinda way, but something which I really loved.

We’d checked out the menu online before visiting and the girls knew what they wanted, but Husband and I ummed and ahhed for a while because everything on the menu looked so tasty. We were given plenty of time to decide and Husband ordered a rather exotic looking juice in the meantime. (Kale, apple, lime and pear, in case you’re wondering and it just tasted so GREEN!).

In the end, the girls chose a mini chicken yaki soba and a mini chicken cha han, both of which were really tasty. One of the things I really liked was that each dish was made of super fresh ingredients and were bought out to us as soon as they were ready, meaning no-ones meal was left to sit under lights while we waited for the rest. I also loved the kids chopsticks that we were given which kind of slot together and made it loads easier for the girls to use.

Husband and I ended up opting for the shirodashi ramen (him) which was slow-cooked pork belly, marinated in bulgogi sauce in a noodle and reduced chicken broth with dashi and miso, topped with pea shoots, menma, spring onions, wakame and half a tea-stained egg while I went for the Wagamama ramen which was grilled chicken, barbecued pork, prawns, chikuwa and mussels in a miso, ginger and chicken noodle soup. topped with half a tea-stained egg, menma and spring onions.

I’m not going to lie; I think mine was genuinely one of the nicest things I’ve ever eaten. The noodles were tender and the broth was fairly simple but the pork belly was unbelievably tasty and the mussels were like little bombs of flavour throughout the dish. I’ve never had wakame before and actually thought it was squid while I was eating it, but it’s kind of like a Japanese equivalent of a crabstick, but formed around bamboo…apparently! Husband really enjoyed his too; his broth was spicier than mine with a really rich, warming flavour and the slow-cooked pork was, again, super tender and flavourful.

I think the thing that we liked the most about our Wagamama experience, although it’s hard to narrow down because it was a delight from beginning to end, was just the fact that it was something different. Don’t get me wrong, we love a burger and all of the “usual” choices in family-oriented restaurants, but it was SO nice to consider different flavours, textures and ingredients, especially for exposing the girls to new things. It was also a lot healthier than your average restaurant lunch; my Wagamama ramen totalled about 700 calories for the whole bowl, and given how full I was I thought that was pretty reasonable. In fact, we were all too stuffed for dessert but next time we go to Wagamama (and there WILL be a next time!), that banana katsu is MINE!

Our bill, for 2 adult mains, 2 kids meals, 1 adult fresh juice, 2 kids fresh apple juices (and I’m not exaggerating when I say this – it was the freshest apple juice I’ve ever tasted…it was literally like someone had crushed an apple into a glass) and a Coke Zero for me came to £37, which I have to say is really reasonable. I certainly don’t begrudge a lunch bill like that when it’s being spent on huge portions of fresh, super nutritious food which is cooked to order.

I think I could quite comfortably say that Wagamama is now a favourite eatery for all of us in the Mum’s the Word house and somewhere which will definitely be on our must-visit list for our next shopping trip. Thanks to Wagamama for having us and for converting us to their way of eating.

Family Lunch at TGI Fridays (review)

Last week we were invited along to TGI Fridays to sample their food and get involved with their summer kids challenge, where they can complete three activities for a free ice cream sundae, as well as being in with the chance to win a family holiday. As we’ve done in the past, we took my lovely MIL with us to give us her opinion on the food, so that you get a well rounded view from a two years old up to a…person who’s a bit older than two (it’s rude to divulge a lady’s age, after all!).

We planned our lunch around a trip to Ikea because the restaurant is right by our nearest store, but we were done with our shopping an hour earlier than planned. However, a quick call to the restaurant and they were more than happy to accommodate us earlier than our original booking, which was a lovely bit of positive customer service. As we were seated, the girls were presented with an activity pack and they also had someone making balloon animals, which delighted my two no end.

The Food

We took a little while to choose as there was so many tasty looking dishes on the menu. In the end, we all shared a starter of potato skins loaded with cheese and pulled pork, then for our mains both girls went for a hotdog and chips from the kids menu, MIL had a Classic American burger, Husband had the chicken and shrimp with with creamy mash and seasonal veg, and I had the FRIDAYS® RIBS in BBQ sauce with a skewer of spicy grilled shrimp.

We all really enjoyed the starter; the pulled pork was really tasty with the accompanying sour cream and one large serving was enough to allow us all to have a taste without ending up too full before our meals. The girls hotdog and chips were actually HUGE portions; there are two kids menus to choose from, one for smaller peeps and one for the bigger kids. The hotdogs came from the bigger menu and although we knew it would be way too much food for Burrito Baby, she had her heart set on having a hotdog. They were really tasty and well cooked, and both girls really enjoyed them.

Anyone who knows me will know that I’m a bit of a greedy so-and-so and often have eyes too big for my belly, and when we eat I often go for the biggest meal on the menu. I erred on the side of caution on this day and went for the half rack of ribs instead of the full rack and I’m SO glad that I did! Along with the fries, onion rings and prawn skewer it was MORE than enough food for me, even with my huge appetite. The ribs were incredibly tender and the meat melted away from the bones, while the accompanying fries were probably some of the best I’ve ever tasted, with perfect seasoning.

Husband, on the other hand, wasn’t massively impressed with his food. He said that his chicken was moist and well cooked but was a tiny portion and the shrimp were okay but the sauce was basically just sugar syrup. He did say that the mash was tasty but the veg wasn’t to his taste – his “seasonal” veg was basically pan fried broccoli and bell peppers, which seemed a slightly incongruous addition to the meal.

The real winner of the day was MIL; she chose the Classic American because she wanted something quite simple but she actually described it as “probably the best burger I’ve ever eaten”. She had the same well-seasoned fries as me and thoroughly enjoyed her meal. I’ll be honest, by the time we’d finished our starter and main we were all FAR too stuffed for afters so the girls didn’t manage to enter the challenge, but it’s a great idea for kids, especially to get them active after consuming a huge meal!

The Bill

One things which I felt was a slight downer was the cost of drinks; Husband had a pint of Samuel Adams and it was £5.28 per pint; obviously it was early in the day so we weren’t there for a boozy experience, but it would have seriously bumped the bill up of we’d both been out for an evening. As it stood, a shared starter, two kids meals, three adult meals, a pint and a half of Samuel Adams plus a Coke Zero for me and a mini milkshake for the girls and our bill came to £79 – definitely not the most expensive meal  but more than the average we’d usually spend on a casual lunch.

In terms of the actual service we received, I genuinely can’t fault it. Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful, our food order was taken and served promptly, our table cleared straight away and we didn’t have to do advanced semaphore to the waiting staff in order to signal for our bill! All in all, we had a great lunch, the food was mostly brilliant and everyone had a nice time. It’s probably a bit too expensive to be a regular place for us to visit, but it’s perfect for a treat or special occasion.

Thanks for having us, TGI Fridays!

Review: Kung Fu Panda 3

Ever since Sausage was 3, we’ve been taking her to the cinema and make a point of seeing all of the new films that are released for her age range. The original Kung Fu Panda was released in 2008, the year that Sausage was born, but we made a point to watch it on DVD when she was old enough to appreciate it, and it’s been a firm favourite ever since, as is the sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2. This year, Kung Fu Panda 3 was released but we didn’t make it to the cinema to see it, so when Dreamworks offered us a copy to review, ahead of the official DVD release, we jumped at the chance!

The third installment sees main character Po, the hilarious and loveable panda voiced by Jack Black, make the transition from student to master in order to train a whole gaggle (I’m not sure of the correct collective noun for pandas!) of little pandas to become martial arts masters…but they aren’t exactly easy to teach!

I’ve got to admit, although I’m a huge fan of the first two Kung Fu Panda films, I was a little bit reserved about the third. Often, by the time this many sequels are released, the stories can be a little…turgid, and they have a tendency to feel like an attempt to cash in on a beloved franchise which, from an adults point of view, can seem a bit cynical. I needn’t have worried though as Kung Fu Panda 3 is just as fun and humorous as the first two iterations.

kung fu panda 3

The voice cast of the movie definitely helps; as I mentioned above, Jack Black voices main character Po and he has a truly inimitable style which I think is loved by young and old alike. His humour can be described as ‘silly but occasionally salty’ which means there’s enough in there for the adults to appreciate as well as the young’uns. The legendary Dustin Hoffman also lends his talent, along with J.K. Simmons and Bryan Cranston, proving that there’s nothing low-budget about this sequel.

The good thing for us about this film is that it’s also really visually spectacular which means that Burrito Baby enjoyed it too; we tend to all go to the cinema together theses days as she’s really well behaved, but the films which really catch her interest and keep her engaged are the ones which look bright and colourful, something which can definitely be said about this film! The version that we watched was the standard 2D version but I can safely say that I think it would also look amazing in 3D, so if you have the opportunity to watch it this way, I’d definitely recommend it.

All in all, we really enjoyed Kung Fu Panda 3 and we’ll definitely be watching if they make a fourth installment!

DreamWorks Animation’s KUNG FU PANDA 3 is out on Digital HD on 4th July and on Blu-ray™ and DVD on 11th July.

Pink Clove Plus Size Clothing Review

A little while ago, a company called Pink Clove got in touch and asked if I would like to select an outfit from their New Arrivals range. Given the fact that I recently had to throw a load of clothes away which were either too big or had holes in them, I said yes! They asked me to pick three items and this is what I chose:

Pink Clove

The Pink Clove Plus Kyra Belted Duster Coat, the Pink Clove Plus Alice Shoestring Cami Vest in Grey and the Pink Clove Plus Izzy Utility Ponte Combat Trouser in Black.

All of the items arrived really quickly and were nicely packaged, which I think is really important when you’ve spent money on new clothes as you want them to feel a little bit special. The coat and trousers are actually made of a heavy jersey-type material, which means that they’re soft and comfortable, but because they’re well cut and detailed, they don’t look like loungewear. The vest impressed me, too; the material is quite heavy which means that it hangs really well. As a plus-size woman, it’s a real fine line between finding garments which hide all of my lumps and bumps and not looking like I’ve just draped myself in a one-man tent!

All of the items wash up really nicely – being the classy lady that I am, I wore the vest out to Sunday dinner the first time I wore it and managed to spill a huge splash of gravy down the front. Given the light grey colour, I was convinced that the gravy would stain but it actually came out on the first wash and looked good as new. As much as I like clothes to look nice and be stylish, the practicalities like this are really important too as I need things to be functional as a busy mum of 2.

Something else I liked was that actual cut of the clothes. Often, brands make ‘plus size’ versions of their styles without really taking into account different body shapes. Plus-size bodies aren’t just SIZED differently, they’re often proportioned differently in different areas and it felt like the Pink Clove clothing really took this into account. A lot of my weight is carried on my chest and tummy and the Pink Clove top and jacket seemed to fit really well in these areas.

All in all, I would definitely recommend Pink Clove to my plus-size readers and will definitely go back next time I need to buy some well-fitting, good quality clothing.

Review: Little Dish – My First Pizza

Little Dish My First Pizza

Burrito Baby is a really good eater these days and since we’ve discovered that she can now have dairy, she happily eats things with normal cheese without any issues and is a huge fan of pizza. So when Little Dish got in touch and asked if we’d like to be some of the first people to try their brand new range of pizzas, My First Pizza, aimed at toddlers, we jumped at the chance. Here’s the blurb on the new products:

Our new range of My First Pizzas have been created in partnership with our nutritionist to ensure that they are not just yummy, but also nutritionally balanced. These tasty pizzas are made with 100% natural ingredients, contain 35% less salt than the average children’s chilled pizza* and have no added sugar, additives or preservatives. Plus, each mini pizza contains 1 of child’s recommended 5 a day thanks to the yummy toppings and hidden carrot puree into our unique pizza bases.

*35% less salt when compared against the average salt content (per 100g) in all children’s chilled pizza found in UK supermarkets

We were sent all three varieties of pizza; classic margherita, mini meatballs and veg, and pesto chicken and veg. The pizzas by themselves were the perfect size to give to BB for a hearty lunch and because they contained one of her 5 a day, as well as 35% less salt than conventional “kids” pizzas, it didn’t feel like we were giving her something unhealthy.

One of my favourite things about all of the Little Dish meals, not just the pizzas, is that they don’t patronise when it comes to ingredients. There seems to be an accepted wisdom that there are certain things that kids just won’t eat, and while there are plenty of fussy kids in the world, my two are really open to new flavours and textures and BB absolutely loved the butternut squash and spinach on the meatball pizza.

Little Dish My First Pizza

Obviously, there are some days when most toddlers decide to be difficult, which why these pizzas are so great – even the plain margherita contains carrot, peppers, onions and tomatoes, all hidden in the base and sauce, so you have the peace of mind that they’re eating a nutritious meal while they get to exert their toddler will and think they’re getting away with being fussy!

If you wanted to make a larger meal out of the pizzas, I’d wholly recommend serving them with sweet potato fries or wedges, for added calories and nutrition, or some steamed veg such as broccoli. We’ll definitely be buying these pizzas for BB in the future as they went down an absolute storm. Thanks, Little Dish, for sending them to us, along with the adorable little hamper and goodies to go with them.

TutorFair Review

tutorfairAs you’ll know if you’ve read this post, Sausage is a super bright girl, but thanks to being let down by a previous teacher, she lacks confidence in Maths and related topics. So when we were asked by Tots100 if we’d like the opportunity to receive a couple of tutoring sessions with TutorFair in a topic of our choice, we jumped at the chance. TutorFair offer teachers in a number of topics, including instrument tuition, but it seemed prudent for us to take advantage of some extra help with maths, if only to show Sausage just how capable she actually is.

The TutorFair website is one of my favourite things about the whole experience – it gives you the ability to narrow down what you’re looking for by subject, area, even budget, so you don’t end up trawling through a list of irrelevant teachers at prices you can’t afford. It also gives you an overview of the experience and qualifications of each tutor; the young man who came to see us was a Physics graduate and did his post-grad teacher training at Cambridge University, which is pretty impressive!

On the day, our tutor Sam arrived early for the session but jumped straight in (after taking his shoes off at the door, despite my protestations – excellent manners!) and gave Sausage a special programme to work through on his iPad to show him exactly where she was in terms of her knowledge. This allowed him to see exactly where she needed help and meant that their time together was properly optimised.

Using a combination of iPad and traditional pen and paper, Sausage and Sam worked through a whole load of topics (with me hovering around to get a good overview for review purposes) and it seemed like he was really able to connect with Sausage and pass on some new techniques for doing certain sums. I try not to criticize the UK’s free education system too much as it’s fantastic for most families, however there can be a slightly “one size fits all” approach to teaching when class sizes are large which means that some kids catch on quicker than others. Extra tuition like the sessions Sausage received are a brilliant way to solidify knowledge that’s passed on during school time and make sure that all of the new concepts have really sunk in.

In terms of cost, the tutor who came to us would usually cost around £38 per hour, which is by no means the most expensive session on the site and could be well worth it if your child is having a lot of problems with a subject. There are also tutors who offer help with 11+, GCSE’s and A-Levels and Sam told us that, in some cases, 11+ tuition begins as young as 8 years old.

All in all, I felt like we had a really positive experience with TutorFair. Sausage felt a lot more confident even after one session and it’s something that we would definitely consider continuing with, should she need the extra help. As a final point, another thing we liked was that, if you were a normal TutorFair customer, all payments are made via the website, so there’s no awkward exchange of cash at the end of the session – this may sound like a silly little thing, but it just made me feel like I’d be a lot more comfortable about using the service in the future.

For more information on tutors in your area, visit the TutorFair site.

Beanies Coffee – A Review

A while back, we were sent a selection of items by Beanies Coffee to taste-test and review. For those of you who haven’t heard of Beanies, the company makes flavoured coffee, both roast ground and instant, in a wide selection of flavours. I opted for Cherry flavour and Maple Syrup flavour in the roast ground, and Amaretto Almond in the instant.

I would definitely class myself as a coffee drinker; I drink instant at home at least twice a day, and usually have a latte somewhere if I leave the house, plus Husband and I stick the pot on for a “proper” cup of coffee a few times a week, too. I also have a personal filter coffee machine which makes a thermally insulated flask of coffee for one person which I often take with me when I’m out and about. See – definitely coffee people!

I was worried at first that the sweet flavours of Beanies coffee meant that they had added sugar; being a diabetic means I have to avoid excess sugar, but I needn’t have worried. Beanies sweetness is explained on the website’s FAQ:

Your sensory cells for taste and aroma respond to the sweetness of the flavours and although they contain no derivatives such as dextrose, fructose, lactose or syrups the receptors tell the brain that the product must surely contain sugar. Therefore when you taste our coffee you in fact smell the familiar flavour notes and your brain is automatically tricked into thinking the drink is sweet. Clever eh!

Each of the three flavours I tried were very authentic – the cherry really tasted of cherries, while the maple syrup and amaretto versions definitely tasted of maple syrup and amaretto! All three flavours smelled amazing, too. It was almost worth brewing a pot just for the amazing aroma that permeated around the house! 

I have to admit, none were sweet enough for me, despite the Beanies claim that you shouldn’t need to add sugar or sweetener, but then I do have my coffee pretty sweet on a day-to-day basis, adding two sweeteners to a normal mug, so it may well be sufficient for someone who doesn’t like their coffee as sweet as me.

All in all, I was really impressed. I’m not sure that flavoured coffee could replace every mug for me, across the day, but it definitely makes a lovely mid-morning treat and I could happily see myself tempting a guest to try something flavoured rather than our usual brew!

If you want more info on Beanies, head to their website, or take a look at their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages.