Spar NI The Kitchen Range- Win One of 3 Hampers During #FoodNIHour Tonight

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Spar's new range The Kitchen offers us hungry customers 39 products, perfect for making tonight’s tea. The Kitchen brand is a range of fresh meal solutions, perfect for quick and easy dinners for one, two or the whole family.

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Beef stroganoff  

Beef stroganoff  

I tried out some of the meals this weekend. There are mains for two, sides and sharing desserts, as well as dinners for one you can pop in the microwave. The difference between The Kitchen & frozen microwave meals is the quality & freshness. The beef stroganoff has big chunks of real meat, with a creamy sauce that tastes like you've made it freshly yourself. 

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To put together The Kitchen range Spar NI have worked with local suppliers here in Northern Ireland, Armagh’s Daily Bake, Willowbrook Foods in Killinchy, Big Pot Co. in Cookstown and Quinfresh from Dungannon ensure only the best home-grown produce is used for each product.

If you fancy winning one of three hampers of The Kitchen products then you can join in with #FoodNIHour tonight between 9 & 10pm. You can follow SparNI @SparNI, and the food hour hosts @foodnihour, and I will be taking part as @rudedoodle.

M&S Christmas 2016 Party Food- 3 for 2 Savoury Goodies For a Tree Decorating Family Feast

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It seems the older I get, the more it is that my favourite part of Christmas is the eating. Christmas dinner is one of my top three favourite meals ever, and the Boxing Day buffet is legendary in the Spence household.  

Another great part is the fancy party food that goes on sale in Marks & Spencer in mid-November. There are the yearly classics like smoked salmon bites and mozzarella cheese sticks, but there are always some new party food additions, so I chose a selection to try out before the season really kicks off.

For this post I stuck to the savoury selection, so watch for a sweet party food follow up in the next couple of weeks. 

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First off, M&S have realised the great untapped market of BREAKFAST party food. Christmas Day breakfast is one portion of the day not set with tradition, apart from the universal fact that we all will have eaten chocolate pre-10am. Since I've had my own household, and even now when it's just myself & Smix, Christmas breakfast for us is a plate of thick American pancakes, bacon & maple syrup. Smix inevitably has to be told a thousand times to eat, as he's distracted by Santa's delights, so I'm thinking of changing things up a little this year and going with M&S's mini breakfast bacon cups. 

 

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They come in their own tray to pop in the oven and when ready you have a bite size crispy bacon cup filled with scrambled egg, baby tomato & flecks of mushroom. They. Are. Amazing. I'm not even ashamed to say I ate the whole tray of them the morning I cooked them to test. They would be so much easier to get a kid to eat than sitting down with a knife and fork to eat pancakes and bacon. 

Also above are the new mushroom baubles. If you are cooking a whole fry, these would be a cool treat on the side.

The Brie and cranberry tartlets would also be good to be served any time of day. If you've never tried that combo, you don't know what you are missing.

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All the savoury and sweet party food is 3 for 2 right now, and I'm thinking a little spread of goodies would be a nice tradition to kick off for tree decoration night. It's another one of those times the whole family gets together to decorate the tree and home, so why not mark the occasion with a little party too?

Some of the party food is more for an adult palate, but everyone will love the Christmas cracker shaped sausage rolls, and bacon & cheese rolls.  Cheese & bacon potato skins are another crowd pleaser, but my absolute favourite party food for the kids is the mini buckets of southern fried chicken pops with fries. There's also a fish and chips variety with the same novelty buckets. I love the buckets. I would buy these all year round, they are so cute. Mini posh dogs are another option for all ages to share.

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Moving on to some of the more adult options there are lots of great Asian influenced foods. The sticky Asian chicken lollipops go really well with the oriental prawn selection. It's worth noting that all the party food oven cooks around 190-200, so I was able to cook everything together just by scheduling the times. 

New this year is the hog roast on mini crackling plates. These are really tasty & I've not seen anything like them anywhere else.

The mini scallops en croutes with champagne sauce are most definitely a more adult taste, and serving them in a shell is just plain fancy pants. They taste great too.

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So that's the savoury party food we tried out, all 3 for 2 right now. I will feature the sweet selection soon, but in the meantime I want to share with you the  Christmas cake I ordered this week for Christmas Day. M&S actually sold this same cake last Christmas & I spotted it in store & decided to buy it closer to the day. Then my local store sold out of them! Luckily I phoned round nearby stores & managed to drive and buy one on Christmas Eve in east Belfast. So this year I've been smart and ordered and paid for it already, to pick up Christmas week at my local store. I can't wait!

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Chunky Kitsch Wooden Jewellery: Miss Snix is Back With a Christmas Collection Including Those Trampoline-loving Foxes!

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I've blogged about  Miss Snix's Wooden Jewellery at least three times before, and check what she has newly listed every few months. I always seem to come away with a purchase, cause it's my sort of stuff. I'm not fond of delicate silver or gold pieces, I love big, chunky, colourful wood or plastic jewellery, necklaces and brooches, and Miss Snix seems to also make the collection subjects things I like too! 

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This time around I bought a massive, vintage, green Mini brooch, to pin on my fake fur leopard coat.  

I'm incredibly tempted by the leaping foxes from her Christmas collection too. Hopefully this store could inspire you when gift shopping the next couple of weeks. The price points are very fair too, from £6 up to £18 for the really large pieces. There's also the option to offer a price of your choice on many of her eBay listings.

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IKEA Christmas Lighting 2016- Setting the Holiday Mood with a Flick of a Switch

IKEA Belfast kindly sent us some Christmas lighting to start setting a holiday mood.

The star shaped STRALA shades can be swapped with your regular lampshades on either downward hanging bulbs, or table lamps.

There are strings of colour changing star lights which I used in a bowl to create a centrepiece, or they can be used traditionally as a string of lights on your tree.

Finally the stand alone candelabras are perfect for windowsills, or as a feature on your table. All on sale now in IKEA UK.

STRALA red star on table lamp

STRALA red star on table lamp

LED candelabra 

LED candelabra 

STRALA white star on roof fitting, LED candelabra  

STRALA white star on roof fitting, LED candelabra  

Give Back Friday: A Wheely Good Idea From Victory Chimp

Victory Chimp is a Northern Irish art & apparel site with designed pedalled from the mind of Ryan O'Reilly. He loves cycling, apes and illustration, and this site is a culmination of all three.

He has come up with a really cool alternative to tomorrow's Black Friday, which I spotted on Facebook so had to share. I'll let him speak for himself- 

  "We want to do something positive this Black Friday, so here's the deal:

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This is our new print. It comes in three colours and 100% of the proceeds will go to three charities, Simon Community, Marie Curie and World Bicycle Relief.

This is a timed edition. It will be on sale until 11.59 GMT Monday 28 November only.

Our goals:
25 prints / £500 welcomes 20 homeless people with warm clothes and essential supplies
25 prints / £500 provides 25 hours of care for the terminally ill in the comfort of their home
25 prints / £500 sends 10 bikes to Africa, empowering people with access to education, health and economic opportunity"

Pretty good, huh? Even if you don't cycle it's a snazzy design to brighten up your hall or kitchen, and it fits the large IKEA box frames. 

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As you can see it's a limited print, so if you are reading this after Black Friday 2016, and you wish you had picked one up for the cycling addict in your family, don't despair. Check out these other art prints on sale all year round on  the Victory Chimp store. I want the travel poster inspired set, so simple & classic.

Good luck, Ryan & co! I hope you make your Give Back Friday target! 

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Design a Wonderful Toy at IKEA, Have It Made & Sold in 2017, and Support The Royal Hospital for Sick Children

A new collection of soft toys, designed by children from around the world has gone on sale as part of an important campaign at IKEA Belfast.

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The 10 SAGOSKATT toys, part of the “Let’s Play for Change” Campaign, are made up of everything from a red monster to a “horsaurus”, designed by children aged between 5 and 9 years old.

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And now, children in Northern Ireland can unleash their creative imagination and try their hand at designing the 2017 collection during the store’s drawing competition between 20 – 27 November.

The new campaign aims to highlight the importance of play, and that every child has a right to learn, develop and play. For every children’s book and toy sold between 20 November – 24 December, the IKEA Foundation will make a donation of €1 to projects in some of the poorest communities in the world, supporting children’s development and learning, equal participation, sports and of course, play.

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Locally, IKEA Belfast will also donate toys to The Royal Hospital for Sick Children thanks to the campaign’s “Give Twice” mechanic; shoppers will have the opportunity to pick up an extra toy or book at checkouts, which they can place in the donation bank for the hospital, whilst donating again to the charity partners.

Christie Gregg, store manager at IKEA Belfast said; “All of our toys and books encourage play, and our new family of soft toys show the power of play in its purest form; what children’s imaginations can create when encouraged, and we’re delighted they will help other children around the world develop their right to play.

 

 

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 “We hope to see plenty of entries for next year’s collection of soft toys from kids in Northern Ireland during next week’s (20 – 27 November) drawing competition in the children’s department.”

To learn more about the campaign, visit ikeafoundation.org, and for more information on IKEA Belfast, visit ikea.co.uk/belfast.

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Sexy Mr Burns Phone Cases and Flirtatious Patty & Selma Furry Clutch Bags- Skinny Dip London, I Love You

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We accidentally stumbled upon Skinny Dip London in the summer, amongst the streets of Soho, whilst trying to locate Yo Sushi. We didn't find Yo (the restaurant was closed for a refurb) but it was fate we found the kitschest accessory boutique in the whole city.

The small store was bunged with furry bags, glittery phone cases, holographic makeup bags, sparkly luggage tags. We had to rush as it was closing time, but I bought something anyway, a fuchsia pink, glittery flamingo luggage label. 

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When we got home, I looked up SkinnyDip and was excited to find I could browse and buy the same crazy cool accessories online. 

A little while ago they launched this season's collection, which includes The Simpsons Undressed. Passing over the typical Simpson character merch, instead this range focuses on Mr Burns, Moe and Marge's sisters Patty & Selma. 

If you love it as much as I do, be quick, as some of the most popular pieces have sold out already. I do think I need a sexy Mr Burns phone case for winter... 

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Free Nails Inc Polish With £2 Glamour Magazine- 2016 Shades

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Every year Nails Inc pair up with Glamour Magazine to giveaway a free polish with purchase of the £2 magazine.

Nails Inc varnishes retail at around £12, so it's always a good bargain even if you don't read the magazine. 

This year there are four shades to choose from, or to collect all four. 

I chose the neutral nude Lexington Street. 

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The second shade is Midnight, a very deep navy. You can spy it in the photograph below. (Pic from BeautyMarkdown.co.uk)

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There's also a classic cherry red called Tate. 

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And lastly a tribute to 90s' Posh Spice called Victoria. It's a dark plummy brown colour with a great shine. 

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I think I'll buy that last one too, but my local Spar didn't have a copy of Glamour with one of those. Which will you choose?