Languedoc Roussillon Yelloh! Village Les Secrets de Camargue

New experiences: glamping at Yelloh! Village

So this year is all about throwing myself into new experiences and saying yes instead of no.  I’ve done pretty well so far, what with the Sainsbury’s advert and being interviewed on the radio, and I’ve also committed to speaking at a big conference this year! Travel-wise, I’m all about doing stuff I’ve never done before and one of the things on the list is getting out into the great outdoors.

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Seven Seas Perfect7

On test: Seven Seas new Perfect7 – the results!

So before Christmas, I told you that I was going to be trying out Seven Seas new Perfect7 Woman – it’s a blend of Omega-3 rich marine oils, and vitamins and minerals especially formulated to provide benefits for women in 7 key areas such as skin, nails and air, as well as supporting hormonal activity, brain function, vision and heart health.  So how did I get on?

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The cable car to the summit of Mt Teide

My top five Canary Island experiences

If you’re planning a family holiday this year, you can’t go very far wrong with the Canary Islands.  The climate is beautiful year-round, and around this little archipelago just off the south west coast of Morocco, there’s a holiday, and a hotel, to suit you. Whether you’re looking for peace and quiet, or for a bustling party destination, there really is something for everyone.  Here are my top five Canary Island experiences:

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Rosie serving bowl, Anthropologie

Wishlist: kitchen luxe

Happy Monday! Hope yours is going well.  I spent most of the weekend dreaming and drawing and planning (oh and making yummy barbecue pulled chicken too). We’ve been working and saving really hard for our upcoming kitchen refurb and it’s lovely to think that this is the year that we’ll actually be able to start making our dreams become a reality.  I spend so much time in the kitchen, it’s one of the places that I’m really looking forward to starting work on.  We want to knock the wall down between the kitchen and the dining room to recreate a larger, more sociable space – something that really hit home to me during our New Year’s Eve party, when I was stuck at the sink clearing plates between courses, listening to everyone having fun in the next room.

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Shredded barbecue chicken

Slow cooked barbecue pulled chicken

I love a feast.  A proper, gather round the table heaped with dishes, everyone talking at once, help yourself, kind of feast.  My favourite one recently was our huge Middle Eastern feast for New Year’s Eve. when the table was heaving with all sorts of different things ready to tuck into.  We talked, we laughed, we drank lovely wine, we stuffed all sorts of different things into pittas, and then into our faces.  A real joyful night.

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Habitat sofa

My home wishlist

I can’t believe we’re finally going to refurbish our house!  I’m so excited and seem to be spending hours (okay, more hours than usual) on Pinterest and various home websites, planning and plotting and dreaming about how our home could look.

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Disney Dream

Gorgeous new luxe foodie experiences on board with Disney Cruise Line

As regular readers will know, I’m a huge fan of Disney Cruise Line. DCL’s fleet comprises four beautiful ships: the first, the recently reimagined Disney Magic, originally set sail in 1998, closely followed by Disney Wonder in 1999, both with the capacity to welcome 2700 guests on board.  Then DCL launched two larger ships, Disney Dream in 2011 (my first, and favourite – with the incredible ‘AquaDuck’ – the world’s first ‘watercoaster’ at sea), and the Disney Fantasy in 2012, both longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall, and with a maximum occupancy of 4000 passengers.

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Stags Leap Chardonnay

The best of the January sales

Happy Sunday!  I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.  We’ve mostly slobbed around, eaten cake, signed the contracts ready to exchange on our house (YAY!), splurged in Majestic Wine  (this Stag’s Leap ‘Karia’ Chardonnay was buy two, save £10), stroked our gorgeous little furball family and started prepping for our next painting project: Sam’s bedroom (feature wall dark grey, other walls silvery grey).

I’ve got my first trip coming up very soon, a cruise on the gorgeous Disney Dream – one of my favourite ships, so I thought it would be a good time to stock up on some of the summer stuff that’s inevitably in the sales:

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Sainsbury's #loveyourfreezer banana ice cream

‘Prom night’ purple and Tom and Jerry antics

It’s been a mad week here at English Towers.  The Sainsbury’s #loveyourfreezer campaign has gone live and it’s been really lovely receiving tweets, texts and Facebook messages (and AWFUL screenshots – thanks guys haha) saying ‘ooh, I’ve just seen you on the telly!’.  I’m SO proud of this campaign – Sainsbury’s have been amazingly lovely to work with, and there are loads more exciting things coming up.

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Mmmm pancakes!

My top five fluffy American pancake ideas

So how did you feel this morning when the alarm went off?  After all the lovely festive lie-ins, English Towers was not a happy household.  I find that what you really, really need on these cold mornings (apart from a hug, obviously), is a mahoosive tower of puffy, fluffy American pancakes.  The lovely chaps at Flora were kind enough to share their wonderful recipe for American pancakes with me, and challenged me to come up with some awesome breakfast recipes to help you all through all these ffffrrrreeeezing mornings!

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Guacamole at La Malinche

The UK does Macy’s: my top five things to do in Sarasota

So if you pop in occasionally, you’ll know that Mr English and I recently spent a while in Florida, visiting the Macy’s stores in both Orlando and Sarasota.  We particularly loved Sarasota – it’s a beautiful area and there’s bags of stuff to do as well as a really cool foodie scene.  We whittled our favourite experiences down to five really fab experiences:

Christmas at Macy's

Christmas at Macy’s

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Director Ed watching the action on the monitor

Ooooh I’m on the telly! The new Sainsbury’s ‘Love Your Freezer’ campaign

So by now you might well have seen me on the telly (I KNOW!).  Regular readers will know that I’m a huge freezer fan so I’m delighted to be working with Sainsbury‘s on their ‘love your freezer’ campaign – if you haven’t seen the advert, I’ve got it right here, and it’ll be around on the TV for a while too – I saw it on Channel 4 during Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, which pleased me immensely! Read more

Mechoui lamb

New year, new plans

Happy New Year!  I hope you had a lovely evening with your friends and family (or indeed a quiet one at home).  We had family round and did a huge Middle Eastern feast, with slow roasted Mechoui lamb, minted yogurt, harissa and sweet chilli jam, all stuffed into warmed pittas with red cabbage and salad. So yummy and a great way to feed a crowd.

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Christmas wines

Step by step: how to cook a turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings

IT’S NEARLY HERE!  If you’re hosting Christmas lunch/dinner this year, here is everything you need to do, including lots of tips to make it stress free and ensure you spend your precious time with your family and friends, and not too much chained to the oven!  Remember, don’t panic, and  just think of it as a roast dinner on a slightly larger scale.

Before you start, grab a cuppa and have a read through:

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Asda Extra Special hamper

Asda’s Extra Special Christmas

Lovely Asda sent me a very festive hamper this weekend: not chocolates, or chutney, no, the best kind: MEAT!

Of course, not everyone wants to eat a traditional roast turkey at Christmas, and Asda’s Extra Special range has some stunning alternatives, including an Extra Special rack of venison, and a unique six bird roast, with British turkey, skinless duck fillet, chicken breast, wild pheasant, partridge and pigeon. The thought of these ‘bird within a bird’ roasts sometimes puts me off (how do you cut off the skin and inedible bits of each bird?) but Asda’s chefs have worked hard to create a dish with all the nice edible bits.  It’s covered in a lattice of oak smoked streaky bacon and all you need to do is shove it in the oven. It serves 10 and costs £40 – in store now.

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M&S mini Christmas pudding cakes

Party food from Marks and Spencer

My children love our weird dinners (not).  The other night, we were testing Marks and Spencer’s new range of party food.  Their dinner was entirely made up of canapés, which although seems very posh, is actually quite strange.  The good news is, though, that the party food is REALLY good, so we didn’t mind at all.  And we thought it would be even better if you actually used it all as intended, y’know, for parties…

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Hot toddy

The Big Christmas Gift Guide: perfect pressies for pets!

I couldn’t finish off my gift guides without giving a little nod to our furry friends.  It’s been a bit sad at English Towers since little Ninja passed away.  I miss being attacked on the stairs, and slowly but surely the random white hairs are appearing less and less on everything I iron.  Soon I won’t be cursing as I pick them off every item of clothing – and what will I do then?

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Multi fuel stove

More house news and wood burning stoves

So another thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about on the house front is having a fire.  At the moment we have rather an ugly ten year old gas fire.  It’s not pretty, it smells a bit funny and it’s a long way from the crackling log fire that I dream about.  The question is, what to do with it? Our first plan was just to rip it out, give us a bit more room in the lounge and be done with it, but then we started looking at fireplaces and stoves and it seems we do have some options.

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Disney's Frozen cake toppers

Disney’s Frozen Christmas Cake

For me, this year has been all about  Walt Disney World, and in particular, Disney’s Frozen.  So when it came to decorating my Christmas cake, I knew it was going to have to have a Frozen theme.  I’d seen the sugar glass (or ice) a few times on Pinterest but they were always American recipes and involved corn syrup and, frankly, unless you’re Buddy the Elf, it’s unlikely you’re going to come across this on your travels. I was worried that substituting golden syrup would taint the colour but it didn’t seem to at all (obviously if you’re aiming for clear ‘glass’ then this recipe won’t work for you’).  I used colouring paste, but liquid will work too.  These gorgeous little cake toppers are from Cake Decorating Store, as are the cutters.  I cut out the ‘frozen fractals’ from leftover icing (sticking them on with a dab of boiling water)  but decorate however you want, or just leave it plain and sprinkle with a bit of glitter (I love glitter).

Disney's Frozen Olaf Christmas cake

Disney’s Frozen Olaf Christmas cake

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