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Archive for February, 2012

#SilentSunday 26/02/12

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I love a good cereal for breakfast, in fact, I could eat cereal at any point of the day and my favourite is absolutely, most definitely Kellogg’s Special K. In the previous years, it has helped me through two pregnancies especially in the first months when nothing else would stay down and even now, I class it as one of my own personal comfort foods and sometimes have a bowl just before I go to bed!

My breakfast this morning!

I’ve had my Special K with chopped banana, fresh strawberries, and I’ve even popped in some raisins from time to time but Kellogg’s themselves have gone one step further and better by adding deliciously crunchy hazelnut clusters and flaked almonds!  This is a Limited Edition at the moment but will be available throughout stores later in the spring.

The gorgeous Kellogg’s sent me a few boxes to sample and sample I have!  The hazlenut clusters and flaked almonds give the cereal an added crunch along with all the usual goodness that Kellogg’s provide, and of course the best bit is that it is only 119 calories per 30g bowl!!

As much as I really want to keep ALL the boxes to myself and slowly munch my way through them, I have decided to give a couple away to you lovely readers of my blog to share the yummy taste and to say thankyou for reading!

All you have to do is the following:

Tweet ‘I want to win a box of Kellogg’s Limited Edition Special K with @homemakeruk’

The competition is open to the UK and ROI only and the 2 winners will be contacted via Twitter Friday 9th March.

All words and opinions are my own.  Good Luck!

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*When the lovely folks at the English Provender Company asked if I would like to try a jar of their all natural Sweet Tomato and Chilli Chutney for a review, I jumped at the chance to do so!  Anything that is foodie and contains no artificial ingredients at all scores highly in my opinion.  Suitable for vegetarians and vegans, the deliciously zingy Sweet Tomato and Chilli chutney boasts a list of natural ingredients that include tomatoes, apples, roasted tomatoes in olive oil, sultanas glazed in sunflower oil, and organic sea salt amongst others.

They also use an open pan method of cooking which is a fairly slow process but one which reduces the ingredients down to a spectacular flavour and aroma that when I opened the jar to sample it, after a few minutes, the husband walked in wondering what I was cooking!

The first bite of the chutney on it’s own is nice and sweet which then develops into a sensational yet a ‘not too hot’ chilli and tangy taste.  We tried ours with a pork pie (or two), breadsticks, and thick cut baguette with a mature cheddar cheese.  I also sent the husband off to work with a ham and sweet tomato and chilli chutney sandwich!

At the moment, in the major supermarkets, you can find their Sweet Tomato and Chilli Chutney, Caramelised Red Onion Chutney and Ploughman’s Plum.  The jars are clear with transparent labels so you can see the rich colours of the ingredients.  You can also buy other delicious chutneys such as Moroccan Spiced and Apple, Pear and Fig from their online store along with ideas and recipes.

Visit English Provender Company to see their scrumptious ranges of chutneys and condiments and you can follow them on Twitter A Good Dollop and like them on Facebook too! for chances to win your own chutneys.

*All my own words and opinions.

 

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The Vintage Garden look

*I love sitting on my sofa relaxing, coffee in one hand, catalogue in another and I squealed in delight (yes, even I, the unsquealy, squeal from time to time) when the postman dropped in the fabulous BRAND NEW Spring/Summer 2012 Home Collection from Matalan!

It is the most awesome sneak preview of  fresh and fantastic ideas to decorate your home and Matalan have once again shown their strength of style with fantastic affordable prices that allows you to have a whole new house without breaking the bank!

Whilst smiling like a fool and drooling over the pages, I decide over and over again what I want, which is pretty much everything and then some.

Matalan have four key themes in store for us this Spring/Summer.  Vintage, Harbour, Heritage and Colour Pop. 

 ************************************************************************

 

I WANT!!

Each has it’s own strength of character with Heritage and Colour Pop giving us bold, bright and luxurious colours whilst Vintage and Harbour give us a soft, fresh and breezy outlook on decor .  Every room in the house can have it’s own story and character with these versatile ranges.

My personal favourite is the Vintage and I’ve already earmarked several pieces for our home when the range debuts across the stores but having more of a look at the catalogue I can’t stop poring over Colour Pop this year which gives us a living style worthy of Carnaby Street colours!, a fabulous rich Mediterranean look for the garden, and a warm bamboo style called Apples and Pears for the Kitchen!
 
For such a home decor novice as myself, the sneak peek is a God send.  I can picture how I want things to be where we are now, and with plans to move house in the next couple of years, these timeless designs are easily transportable.
I find myself one step closer to having a home that is adorned with lovely bits and pieces.  The beauty of the price is that it is so affordable, you can buy a few
*extras* as well.  At least that’s what I’m going to tell The Husband.
 

Colour POP Living

 
So if you’re in the mood for updating your collection or fancy re-doing rooms, here is an exclusive SNEAK PEEK for you too so that you can start making those plans to have fabulous new stuff for your home this Spring/Summer!  
 

Nautical Bedroom DecorBeautiful Vintage Bathroom

Mediterranean Garden

Heritage Living

 
 
 
*This is not a sponsored post. All words and opinions are my own.

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#SilentSunday 19/02/12

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Silk flowers arranged with gold sprayed pine cones

Because it’s half term this week, you would think I would be busy doing lots of activities with the children so that they wouldn’t flake out in boredom.  We started with a lovely lunch at the weekend at my parents, then a trip to the Science Museum on Sunday, followed by severe illness on Monday.  My youngest was struck down with some kind of mysterious virus that rendered him feverish and sick.  Needless to say all the plans we had (bar the chocolate cake making) went out of the window.

Tuesday came Valentine’s Day and although we don’t celebrate it as a couple, we had a few moments of nostalgia whilst waiting for the little one to awaken and throw up (as you do).  This year, we will celebrate 9 years of marriage.  We are wondering where the time has gone and can barely remember the time before children (is it like that for everyone?!).

We joked that we’d like to have the wedding day again as it was just so much fun.  We had two weddings…yes two, and both on the same day plus  we were so lucky to be able to celebrate with all our friends and family that we don’t get to see alot nowadays that it would just be the perfect excuse for a get together. 

So two weddings, I hear you say…well with me being Iranian, and the husband being English, we just had to mix a bit of both so we had a Church ceremony in the beautiful St. Wilfred’s Church of England in South Manchester and we had the Sofreh Aghd (Iranian wedding Ceremony) in the hotel before the reception.

Now I have lived in England for most of my life and therefore handed over the whole wedding organisation to my mother who gave me and the husband the best day and memories to last us a lifetime (thanks mom!) and I could never hoped to have had the Iranian side of things without her knowledge about what needed to be done.  Here I thought I’d share some of the photos of the *Sofreh Aghd* (sofreh=table, aghd=marriage), and try to explain a bit about this very old and traditional ceremony which dates back to the ancient Zoroastrian times. Please forgive the photo quality as I can’t take the photos out to scan properly.

Our *Sofreh* layed on a raised platform on the floor.

 On the Sofreh, there are several different things layed out all with their own significance. 

  • A mirror (called the Mirror of Fate) with candles on either side represent fire and light.  The bride comes in veiled to sit next to the groom who are both sat on the side of the sofreh opposite the mirror. When her veil is raised, her reflection in the mirror is the first time the groom sees her face (at the wedding of course).
  • Herbs and pastries are always present on the sofreh.  The herbs can include poppy seeds, angelica, frankincense, nigella seeds and tea leaves. Rice is also present.  The pastries include rice cookies, almond cookies, chickpea cookies, marzipan shapes, baghlava (layers of filo pastry with nuts and syrup) and noghl (a white sweet).  These pastries are taken after the ceremony and served to the wedding guests.
  • Fruit, decorated eggs and nuts, better known as symbols of fertility and the heavenly fruits (apples, pomengranate and grapes).
  • A cup of rose water for the perfume.
  • Shakh e Nabat – a bowl made out of rock candy or any shape available.
  • Honey-after the ceremony, the bride and groom dip their little fingers in the honey and feed it to each other.
  • Incense to ward off the evil eye.
  • Gold or silver coins to represent prosperity and wealth.
  • The sacred text of choice.
  • A Prayer rug or traditional Iranian *Termeh*.  This is a rug placed in the middle of the sofreh to remind the couple of the importance of God and prayer.  This can be coupled with rosary beads and a prayer stone.

During the ceremony, 2 cones of sugar cane that have been prettily decorated are ground over a veil covering the bride

Traditional Iranian Termeh

and groom’s head typically by the single women of the family to *bag themselves a husband* as well as pour sweetness over the newly-wed couple.  On a funny note, these ladies might also sew in a stitch or two which is said to bind the mother in law’s tongue against any nasty words in the future!

After the religious representative conducting the ceremony has finished, he then asks the bride three times if she wishes to marry the groom.  For traditional reasons I haven’t found out yet, she isn’t supposed to say yes until the third time.  Generally, the mullah gets heckled by female membes of the wedding party.  He will ask if the bride will take the groom, the female members will shout something silly like *the bride has gone to collect flour from the mill*.  After the third time, the bride will say yes upon the blessing of her family (which is already given of course) and the clapping and cheering begins.

In the spirit of true Iranian and English tradition, the rest of our wedding was the same as any other.  Much celebration and partying with music, food, dancing and cake!

Sugar cones given to us by my Grandmother

As in most other eastern traditions, the cake knife is *stolen* (in our case by my sister in law) and isn’t given back until the groom hands over some money.  I’m pretty sure the husband was fleeced of about £100 that night by a couple of different girlies who took the knife!  The cutting of the cake for us was memorable too as we had NO idea there was a board under the decorative part of the cake to stop it sinking in (we had a very soft sponge and cream cake) and therefore couldn’t cut it.  Dissolving in tears of laughter and embarrassment, we were rescued by a friend of the family who just happened to be a baker!

 

My mother and father made the whole Sofreh themselves.  Some items were brought over from Iran but the decorative

Light and fire

flowers and other bits were made here.  We picked pine cones from parks that had fallen on the floor, washed them and sprayed them ( I still have them all) and I can still remember the smell of the gold and silver sprays in the house in the weeks up to the wedding!

The wedding also holds a huge and special memory for me as my grandmother got to see me get married.  She had given my mother the tradional Iranian Termeh (prayer rug with stone and beads) and sugar cones many years before for my wedding whenever it may be on the off chance she wouldn’t get to be here.  I am grateful to the powers that be that she was here for our big day and we got to see her one last time in 2005 and late last year she passed away.  

I am not sure I can write anymore now as the memories have flooded my mind and the tears have started. I hope you like the pictures and this little insight into an Iranian wedding and yes, if I could, for more reasons than one, I’d do it all over again.

Our honey bowls

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