It's Wrestlemania! Have You Got Your Cake Ready?

Tonight is Wrestlemania! I haven't watched in decades, but I've found myself drawn back into the kayfabe of it all since finding out about Broken Matt Hardy.

You can watch WWE via an app that does a month's free access trial period- so I think I'll be doing that and praying Matt & Jeff show up.

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They get on like a pair of eejits on their YouTube channel, and Matt doesn't break character on podcasts or public appearances.  

It reminds me of the glory days when I loved WWF. That led me to begin listening to Mick Foley's audio book. His first biography is available to listen to for free, read by him.

Then I though, I wonder has anyone ever made a Mick Foley cake. Behold. 

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This one looks like it just got slammed through the roof of a steel cage by The Undertaker.

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So Merry Wrestlemania to you!  

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Treat Your 'Mammy' To a Northern Irish Afternoon Tea This Mother's Day With Local Treats From Tesco.

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Ahhh the Northern Irish Mummy and her quirks. Aside from making sure you take your coat off in the house so you get the benefit of it later, a preoccupation with whether the immersion is off or on, and telling you to wear clean underwear in case you get in a car accident, the Northern Irish 'mammy' loves to feed you. Father Ted's Mrs Doyle is a great character study of the Irish mammies we know and love, "will you have a cup of tea? Awk go on, y'will".

So this Mother's Day how about switching the tables and putting on a fine spread of local treats from Tesco, and feeding up Mum for a change? 

Tesco stock dozens of local brands suitable for the job of afternoon tea, such as Genesis Crafty scones and Howell's delicious biscuits. You can put on a glorious spread with Graham's millionaire bites and Scott's miniature tea cakes.

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You can also pick up gifts for Mother's Day in store like prosecco, beautiful bouquets and beauty treats.  You can't go wrong with a lovely bunch of tulips.

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Also worth noting that Tesco launch their new site  Taste NI this Monday. It will serve as an online hub for all things tasty and Northern Irish. They will explore local foodie traditions, celebrate the wealth of quality local produce available from the province, and share recipes and tips from well-known chefs who are inspired by Northern Ireland's products.

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Mother's Day 2017 Gifts at Asda- Smix, I Want The Bell Jar

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A quick gift guide for Mother's Day next weekend, and Asda has you covered for all the cutest Mum Gifts going. They are your one stop shop for the usual- gorgeous, lush bouquets, scented candles and beauty items, delicious chocolates, plus sparkling wine to toast the matriarch of the family.

What immediately caught my eye, and went straight on my wish list, was the £12 birdie bell jar. It would look so twee on a side table, or even a bedroom dresser. Beside a pastel flower arrangement, it has vintage appeal in the long standing popular shabby chic genre. 

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Asda kindly sent me some items from their  small but perfect gift collection. They are the better place to buy your Mum Baylis & Harding gift sets, if she loves them. They are always a good couple of pounds cheaper than the same sets in chemists.

As I mentioned there is a wide range of floral bouquets, but maybe your Mummy is a green fingers and would love to grow her own pink oriental lilies. It's a more thoughtful present if you have little ones because you can make the planting an event together, then watch the flowers grow as your child grows up also.

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Kitty in a basket is another trinket that I'm going to have to buy myself if Smix doesn't come through with the goods. The ironic ceramic plate is just so me. There is also a bunny plate that could work for an Easter gift too.

What about a bunny teapot? So cute.  

You can never got wrong with some sweeties and a lippie. There is an exclusive L'Oreal range in the Mother's Day department in your Asda store, with limited edition fun prints. 

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Finally, you are only just a mum to be for one Mother's Day, and it every woman sees a Mother's Day being pregnant. So if you're a man reading this and your other half is pregnant with your first child right now and you are wondering should you buy a Mum-to-be gift for next Sunday.... the answer is YES! Mummies of all kinds deserve a special day to thank them for the thankless work all year round. That's why whilst you're in Asda you could phone Mum and ask would she like you to make the Sunday dinner next weekend too. I love you, Mum. 

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Not Just Your Normal Chocolate Eggs For Easter 2017 in Marks & Spencer- We Will Kick Things Off With The Spinning, Silver Disco Ball One...

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I remember when I was a kid, if you got an egg with a matching mug, that was big news. The free mug was pretty darn cool. Now a days there are all sorts of free gifts and varieties of Easter egg, but it's Marks & Spencer who push things one step further out there every year, with innovative egg products such as this year's show stopper- a spinning, silver chocolate disco ball. 

When Smix spotted it he immediately required it! It spins in the box & he says the chocolate tastes like Magnum ice lolly chocolate. It's £10 and definitely the stand out product from the kids' range, but there are more goodies too. 

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Much of the Easter confectionary line is now in store, including all the eggs, sweets, Hot Cross buns and hunt kits and hampers. 

The intricate Frozen castle shaped 'egg' is back this year, plus a Thomas the Tank Engine shaped chocolate delight, and Percy & Penny sweet statues. 

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Bendy Bob is a new addition, plus there are white chocolate options and plenty of bunnies. 

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Laid Back Lamb is flying off the shelves, with his wacky wool and happy face. 

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For your ever so cool teenager, this quirky chocolate bunny is almost too good to eat. If hipsters designed Easter eggs.... 

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Besides your straightforward egg selection,  M&S are also a great place to stock up on items for a garden east egg hunt. There are specific kits you can buy to make a hunt, or there are bundles of mini eggs you can purchase to put together a hunt yourself.

I also adore the bunny jar, which could be used to store cotton buds for your makeup area afterward. 

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There are hampers of different sizes and prices with all you will need for an Easter party. You'll have biscuits, sweets and plenty of chocolate. 

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Of course Marks and Spencer are known for their 'grown up' fancy pants eggs too. Many to choose from this year. 

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I like the options of nougat or fudge eggs, an alternative to the endless chocolate variety. 

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And don't forget Bennet! From tiny Beau, right up to Bennet who is £20 and almost a kilogram of chocolate!

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The £2 Hot Cross Bun flavoured fudge just can't be missed. Make sure you pick up a pack of it to try.

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Even those who don't like chocolate can enjoy these little jelly bunnies. 

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So what's your favourite Easter 2017 Marks & Spencer goodie? 

Concerned About The Prospect of Sea Sickness On a Stena Line £12 Kids' Day Cruise? This Will Put Your Mind At Ease.

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Last weekend Smix & I had a full scale adventure at sea, taking a Stena Line Day Cruise, which I reviewed in full for you. You spend six hours plus on board, so that may be daunting to anyone who experiences travel sickness easily.

I get very sick, almost instantly on any size of bus, so I can't partake in travel tours that use them for a leg of the journey. Planes I'm usually okay, trains are touch and go- I have to be facing forward on the journey. So I wasn't too sure about how the large ferry experience would go. I have been fine any other time I've been on the Stena Super Fast, but I've been sick on competitor's boats in years gone by.

So if you are concerned like me, you'll be pleased to hear this ship, and this crossing journey specifically seems grand.

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There is one section of the journey just for about twenty minutes when you just pull out of Belfast Lough, and again right that spot on the return, where it gets a little choppy. So if you experience that on your trip, don't panic, it doesn't last long, it passes. Try to be near a window or outside for that part. Do not hide up in the toilets. I found the lack of sight line to outside to match the bobbing about made me queasy.

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So here's a sped up, snippet jigsawed journey so you can see just how flat the waters were. This was February and a day where it was grey and drizzling on land in Belfast.

Lastly-  read all about the day cruises here. I reviewed the entire trip and gave you pointers to be prepared for your trip.

M&S Launch THREE New Hot Cross Bun Flavours for 2017- Which Will Be Your New Favourite?

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It's Marks and Spencer Hot Cross Bun season! The 2 for £2.50 deal is back, and very hard to resist.

The retailer sells 42 million hot cross buns every year and for 2017 is selling an exciting range of hot cross buns with nine different varieties for customers to enjoy. All of the M&S hot cross buns are made by Gunstones in Sheffield. To meet demand for the buns in the run up to Easter, the factory produces 24 hours per day.

The first new flavour to introduce you to is the ‘Savoury Cheese Bun’ is made with a blend of two cheeses, juicy Turkish sultanas, onion, chives and of course the traditional hot cross bun spice mix. It is said to be the perfect pairing of fruit and cheese and delicious stuffed with bacon for a gourmet bacon butty. It's the first savoury Hot Cross Bun, and it's well worth picking up to try.

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M&S has also launched the first carrot cake/hot cross fusion – the Carrot Cross. A delicious bun made using carrot slithers, citrus and spice flavours and of course stuffed with a moreish cream cheese frosting. As this is a stuffed bun, you get two per pack, but they are handy on the run as you don't need to find butter or a knife to fill them yourself.

Cream cheese filled carrot cake Hot Cross Bun  

Cream cheese filled carrot cake Hot Cross Bun  

M&S Hot Cross Bun Product Developer, Sadia Usman, commented, “We wanted to have some fun with our hot cross bun and create a range of new flavours for our customers to enjoy. Our savoury bun is amazing served as a bacon butty, whilst the Carrot Cross is perfect for afternoon tea.”

My favourite new addition however, is the Chocolate Orange flavour buns. I've already gone through two packs. I'm not a huge sultana fan, so I always loved the toffee and fudge variety, but this new delight is even better. There's just a slight hint of spice to it. 

Chocolate orange and toffee & fudge varieties  

Chocolate orange and toffee & fudge varieties  

Of course there are all the traditional favourite flavours too, luxury Hot Cross buns in both mini and regular size.

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Cranberry & orange flavour and Kentish Brambley Apple, plus Clementine Orange varieties too. 

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Stay tuned for a look at the Easter treats and eggs in store for 2017 later this week. 

A Day Out With a Difference, and Only £12 Each! Stena Line's Day Cruises Are Back- Here's Everything You Need to Know To Have The Best Day at Sea!

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Stena Line's Kids' Day Cruises from Belfast are back! Priced at just £12 per person, or £44 for a family, you can take them somewhere a little more exotic than the play park next weekend. They'll have quite a cool story to tell come Monday morning when the teachers asked what everyone got up to this weekend!

So what do you need to know before you set sail, to get the most out of your day? 

This year the day cruises are themed either 'Pirates & Princesses' or 'Superheroes', you can check for the theme of your choice  when you book online. There is a full afternoon filled with craic to be had for free onboard, plus added extras you can pay to add on, for a more luxurious trip, for instance a quick trip to the spa for a manicure for Mum. I'll tell you about those as we go, but let's start with your booking and arrival.

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You book your tickets online, where you can also get the Sat Nav postcode or coordinates to get you to the port Stena sail from. Finding it is really easy without maps though- you travel on the motorway out of Belfast toward the North/Carrick and you'll see huge signs for the port and Stena Line to follow right to the parking and terminal at the docks. 

Its a pay to park car park (more on that later) and it has tonnes of room, so there's no panic trying to find a space if you are running late. Speaking of which, the boat leaves the dock at 1130am, with last check-in being 1045am. You board shortly after 11am, but we sat for a while and had coffee in the terminal, so if you are early there's somewhere to be fed and watered. 

There will be passengers who are driving on and who will actually only be on the trip to get to Scotland, but you'll strictly be a foot passenger and no-one is allow to disembark in Cairnryan if you are travelling on the day trip cruise. 

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The disco and entertainment area

The disco and entertainment area

So, once on board your child will get a coloured wristband. This is simply because one of the activities is a disco, which would be chaos in the small allocated space if every child wanted to dance at once, so that part of the fun is done in sessions by wristband colour. 

The specific day cruise entertainment all takes place in the main bar and lounge, just one of the places you have access to during the cruise. I would refer to this lounge as having a bit of a Butlins feel. There's face painting, games, balloon modelling etc. so most of the families with young kids set up camp here. There are staff on hand to entertain the little ones, including a puppet show and a magician. All the themed fun goes on here. There's even karaoke and a best dressed costume competition. 

Face painting

Face painting

Mister Giggles gets the party started

Mister Giggles gets the party started

There is plenty of seating, and this is definitely the hub for kids and families. However, as you can imagine with all that fun comes a lot of excited noise! Six hours at sea in a children's disco might sound daunting, but there is a whole ship to explore and much more to do, even for the kids too. 

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Beside that entertainment lounge is a gaming section with arcade games.

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There is a cool little shop akin to a Duty Free, with equally tempting bargains. They've all the top perfumes with good price deals, make-up including a snazzy Benefit counter, plus toys, sweets and souvenirs.  

It's worth noting with the day trip ticket you will receive two vouchers, both for £5 when you spend £25- so if you've your eye on a particular perfume or aftershave, you could come away with a cracking deal on top of the already lower prices.

 You can even check out the deals here online before you sail.

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The Pod Lounge is a quieter space which suits older children and teens better. It houses the onboard cinema, PlayStation 4 terminals you can use for free, plus internet access. 

The internet terminals however aren't that great. They are frustratingly slow, so it's handier just to bring your own laptop or tablet. 

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The cinema

The cinema

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Another word on the internet at sea, which is cleverly called- 'Internet@sea'. It's free wifi, but in the old tradition of all free wifi, it's a bit slow.

So if you plan to watch Netflix or stream the BBC IPlayer onboard while your kids are having fun- you'll be stuck. I would recommend downloading a movie or to episodes to your device. 

There is a lot of exploring to do however, so you probably won't even need to use it apart from to share photos of the day as it's happening- which it works fine for. 

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There are lots of places to eat onboard, including the first entertainment lounge. The Taste restaurant has a selection of great freshly made food, and many offers to chose from, including family deals. You can check the deals out and even pre-purchase before you sail. Because of the size of the ship, you won't have to wait for very long to order when you want to eat, so it's hassle free.

Theres also a separate coffee lounge with sandwiches and pastries as a lighter bite. There are also bars onboard with wines, beers and spirits. Sporting fans can watch Sky Sports in the Pod Lounge too, so you won't miss an important match. 

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With any luck you'll have a nice, clear, dry day like we did, so you can get out on the outside decks. There is access on floor seven and floor ten. It can be a little windy, but exhilarating. Smix loved that part as he's really into boats and planes, so he could nosy close up at the lifeboats. 

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About 2pm you'll arrive in Scotland. As this is a regular ferry trip for many onboard, there will be a departure of many families at this point. It's a good time to relocate to a better seat if you want a window view for the journey home. 

I recommend trying the Living Room Lounge, it's nice and quiet and there are huge windows to enjoy the scenery of Scotland as you depart again.

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The Living Room has a coffee bar, big TVs showing news, and a selection of free magazines to borrow to read. 

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The ship also has vending machines for snacks, and for the iPad obsessed like us, plenty of charging sockets! 

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You'll be on board from 11am until 530pm, so that's plenty of time if you want to slip away to deck ten, where the Pure Nordic Spa is located. Treatments begin at £10 and include manicures, massages, pedicures, gel nails etc. Or you can pay £10 to get access to the jacuzzi and sauna. If you travel as a family maybe one parent could visit the spa on the Scotland bound journey, and the other on the return.

You'll arrive back in the Belfast port at 530pm, and you can disembark quite quickly, there's not much having to hang around. 

One last thing I have to mention which I knew about from travelling before, but that many families around me were ticked off about- expect to pay £8.50 for your day's parking. After spending money on food and gifts onboard, it's irritating to have to pay almost the same price as a day trip ticket for your parking, and with being in the harbour area you don't have an alternative option for parking. If I had one suggestion that would make the day perfect, it would be scrapping the parking charge for the day trip customers. Just be prepared and factor in that cost when you are planning your trip.

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So the dates are available for the kids cruises up until June- with the different themes available, but all priced £12. 

I definitely recommend it. For £12 each it's a very exciting day for kids. As adults we are more used to travel, but the kids on board were all just so excited to be on a big boat! Add in the included entertainment both ways, and it's something they'll always remember. Michael first went on their day cruises when he was about five or six, and now sailing again aged nine he was actually more excited about the whole prospect this time, despite being a little too old and cool to dress up!  Thanks, Stena Line for the fun day at sea.

A Quick Kitsch Stop Off at Little Citizens Boutique

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Schools were closed today in Northern Ireland,  as they were used for polling stations in our elections. Smix & I took a trip to Ikea, and then stopped off in Holywood town centre to visit Little Citizens Boutique.

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They have a really great  online store, but I like to call in to the physical shop just to see the quirky & unusual toys and gifts in real life. There are so many items I want for myself!

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My favourite designer that they stock is  Meri Meri.

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I suppose technically the cute hair clips, brooches and necklaces are for little girls, but with cats & cacti- they are hard to resist for me too!

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I already have a set of three felt brooches in the cacti design, and today I bought the matching necklace. 

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The store is just packed to the brim with cute & curious gifts, from newborn baby items right up to Michael's age range. 

We saw a really cool watch that you can program via an app to flash different colour combinations- a good starting point for coding skills later on.  Definitely one for the birthday wish list!

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