Smart Men’s Flowers – the simple flower delivery service (Ad)

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Smart Men’s Flowers.

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My wife loves flowers. And like a good (well, OK) husband, I sometimes buy them for her. But here’s a not very well kept secret – I usually have no idea what to buy.

I don’t know what’s appropriate for which occasion. I don’t know which ones look best or not. And I get overwhelmed with choice on the more well known sites.

It may be sexist to think this way, but I think this mirrors the dynamic in a lot of relationships.

Enter Smart Men’s Flowers.

It’s the brainchild of a husband & wife team. You guessed it – she loves flowers, he usually forgets to buy them for her.

With the spark of an idea, and after some market research, they noted this is a wider societal dynamic – so their service aims to fulfil the requirements of the un-engaged male flower buyer.

They found that many men felt overwhelmed with choice on traditional flower delivery websites, and that we often forget to sort out flowers for important dates.

So, the controlling idea of their offering seems to be ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’. They have 8 colourful bouquets, all priced at £29, with free next day UK delivery options of being hand-delivered or just posted through the letterbox.

And if you are particularly bad at remembering to sort out flowers for this important dates, there is even an annual subscription service – so you can set it up for your loved one to receive flowers every year on the same date, whether that be Valentine’s Day, her birthday, your anniversary – or all three and more. And it’s not just for partners – never forget sorting out flowers for your mother’s birthday, or even Mother’s Day again.

We (well, my wife) received two bouquets – ‘Red Roses’ and ‘Mixed Roses’ (pink, orange, and yellow). I’m no expert (that’s the point of the service) but these looked lovely to me.

Smart men's flowers mixed roses bouquet
From the ‘Mixed Roses’ bouquet
Smart mens flowers red roses bouquet
From the ‘Red Roses’ bouquet

They were hand-delivered in two large boxes, and looked bright and fresh when removed. I quickly transferred to two vases, watered, added flower food, and voila –  flowers to greet my wife when she returned home from work.

Is this service just for men? Of course not – women who feel the same can use this too. But are men more likely to find this service useful? IMHO, absolutely.

Anyway, after a hard day at the office, my wife was very happy to be greeted with some lovely flowers…

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To find out more, check out the Smart Men’s Flowers website.

 

What to eat when enjoying a Movie Night in

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Iceland Foods.

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This time, dad went to Iceland to pick up some party foods to compliment a movie night in.

Having the right snacks on hand when watching a movie is important, because there’s nothing worse than a) being distracted from the story because you’re hungry, and b) coveting the delicious looking food onscreen. Given this, I wanted to have food related to specific movies.

I browsed the aisles at my local Iceland store for food that inspired movie choices. I remain happily surprised how tasty their frozen food is. The #PowerOfFrozen means that we can have these foods to hand to cook straight from the freezer. There’s no compromise on flavour because of this – and as you will see many of these foods surpass their non-frozen counterparts.

Anyway, first up we start with a classic combo.

Harry Potter – with mini-Hogwarts feast of Chicken and Sausages

We’ve only just started on the Harry Potter series with the 5yo. My wife read has read her the first book at bedtime, and we have subsequently watched the first movie.

A memorable food scene is the annual Hogwarts feast. There are many dishes on display, and from Iceland’s Party Food range I chose chicken drumsticks and sausages for our chosen snacks.

The chicken drumsticks were Iceland’s southern fried chicken ones, and there are definitely lots of chicken drumsticks on offer at the feast. These ones have a really moreish peppery herby coating. My daughter and I can attest to that.

The sausages are classic cocktail ones, so perfect finger food. I’m used to buying these pre-cooked from the supermarket, so it was great to have oven fresh ones.

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E.T. – with Pizza and M&M’s

Steven Spielberg’s E.T, The Extra Terrestrial is one of those films that should be in everyone’s childhood, and is certainly in my daughter’s as we have enjoyed it together many times already.

There are two iconic food moments in E.T.

First, when Elliot first encounters the alien, it’s whilst collecting a pizza that he ends up dropping – and ruining. I always lament the demise of this pizza, so having one of your own is important so you can get over this loss quickly!

Iceland have an exclusive Pizza Express range, and I chose our favourite pepperoni & sausage one – which is the same topping choice in the movie. Iceland’s Pizza Express range is really tasty, with great toppings and a nice sourdough base. I was really surprised how much I liked this range, and they are way better than the branded Pizza Express products available in other supermarkets.

The other memorable food scene is when Elliot tempts E.T. into his home using sweets. In the movie, they are Reese’s Pieces, which are hard to come by in the UK – and frankly M&M’s are better (and were Spielberg’s first choice), so I bought those instead.

This combo is enough to stave off any food envy while watching the movie.

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Howard the Duck – with Duck!

Perhaps turkey would be a better pairing with Howard the Duck (1986), a twisted curiosity from Star Wars creator George Lucas. The Marvel comic character has been enjoying a renaissance since his cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy, but his first onscreen outing was in fact in this 80’s misfire – which is a movie I have a real soft spot for.

There’s only one choice to eat with this – Duck! Baked in the oven straight from the freezer, these duck spring rolls were nice and crisp, and the perfect accompaniment to consume while watching the misadventures of Howard – a humanoid duck from another world stranded on earth, and the somewhat intimate relationship he strikes up with a human woman (believe it or not – this is a kid’s film).

To be honest, dusting off the movie was a good excuse to try out these tasty duck rolls. With a nice dab of sweet chilli sauce, these sweet meaty treats are delicious.

If you’re in the mood for more duck (not Howard), then these duck steamed buns are also available at Iceland.

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So there you have it. These were my pairings from Iceland’s party food range. Any ones you can think of?

Digital Childhood – Protecting Our Kids Online (ad)

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Kaspersky Lab.

Our children engage in the digital world from their earliest days. When our daughter was born, I would upload weekly videos to YouTube so our family on the other side of the world could keep track of her development.

This has grown from there, now including sharing her story with people we don’t know, via this blog and associated accounts. Being online is as much a part of her life as play, books, and television.

She – like many of her peers – is beginning to explore this world herself. While she doesn’t have her own phone or tablet, she does have a KANO computer. This is used under supervision, but the issue of her online safety is becoming something we need to make part of her day-to-day life as much as, for instance, road safety.

Global cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab recently surveyed 10-15-year-olds and found that a third had witnessed online violence, and a quarter had viewed pornography. Two thirds also said they knew how to hide what they were looking at from their parents.

They also interviewed some children about what they had seen or encountered online, and how much their parents know about what they’re up to.

Our children are living a digital life in a way that no previous generation has been able to. Online trolling, bullying, and even grooming are a modern phenomenon for us as parents to deal with. Kaspersky Labs have recognised this, and parent’s growing concern (as well as lack of knowledge).

They have a product called Kaspersky Safe Kids which can help protect children online, whether on a desktop, laptop, or smartphone. Beyond this, you are also able to monitor their online conversations and keep track of their location.

Parts of this may be a step to far for some, as there are clearly issues around privacy. Should we be monitoring our children’s whereabouts and communication so closely? Should we tell them we’re doing it? If they know, will they find other ways around it, or if we don’t is it breach of trust?

But the fact remains there are people trying to advantage of children online. As parents, the choice of how to approach this is yours. The online environment is not one we grew up with – especially in terms of  handheld devices and social media.

Like road safety, we need to strike a balance between educating our kids as well as ensuring they remain safe.

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Kaspersky Safe Kids is a downloadable app which helps you protect your children in a digital world, on their iPhones, iPads, Macs and Computers. For just £10.99 for a year’s subscription you can stay connected with your kids and be sure they are in a safe place. For more information about Kaspersky Safe Kids, please visit iTunes.

 

Because a Dad’s Work is Never Done: Johnson’s Click & Collect Dry Cleaning

This is a sponsored review post in collaboration with Johnson Cleaners.

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Being the at-home parent means I get certain household tasks by default: Cooking, cleaning (not enough for my wife’s high standards), laundry, etc.

Something else I get saddled with, and generally provokes a sigh every time I need to do it, is going to the dry cleaners. I resent dry clean only clothing (my wife seems to have a lot of these), and getting the likes of household items cleaned (“Is the couch really THAT dirty?”).

So when I was offered the chance to check out Johnson’s Click & Collect Dry Cleaning, I jumped at the chance to remove one of my domestic burdens (oh woe is me).

We decided to clean some of our sofa covers and cushions – which have suffered years of food & drink abuse. I’d like to blame the kid, but us parents are pretty messy TV dinner eaters too.

It was very simple. I went to the site, created an account, then went to online ordering > new order . The selected ‘Home’ and ticked boxes for sofa covers and cushions & number of items. After selecting your chosen day, you pay and you’re all done.

After checkout, the confirmation email arrived – but confusingly it said ‘delivery’ (they were picking up). It also said I would be given a time on the morning of the ‘delivery’ when I would need to be in to sign for it.

Unfortunately, on said morning of the ‘delivery’, I was given a time slot that overlapped with the school pick up. The collection/delivery service is from DPD, and I wasn’t able to adjust or request a new time that day – so I chose the next day and hoped for a better slot then.

However, despite rescheduling, the DPD driver still arrived late that afternoon anyway – luckily after we were home from the school run. I quickly took all the covers off and that was that. So a mistake, but a convenient one so no big deal.

3 days later, I had an email saying that the cleaning had finished. There was no indication when it would be delivered back, and a couple of days later the same DPD driver arrived with my cleaning (luckily I was in). Again, potentially not ideal, but it worked out fine on this occasion.

The most important thing is were the covers cleaner? Well, yes they were. The couch & cushions are 7-8 years old, so I wasn’t expecting them to be pristine, but they were much cleaner than before.

And despite my observations about the pick up/delivery service, the fact remains that it was all immensely convenient. I didn’t have to make an annoying trip to deliver and pick up from the cleaners myself.

And that is a win in my book 🙂

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Check out  Johnson’s Click & Collect Dry Cleaning for yourself.

 

 

Dad’s Night In: Iceland’s Chicken Nuggets with Homemade BBQ Sauce #PowerOfFrozen (ad)

Like other families, we have a routine to most nights. I make our daughter dinner before my wife gets home from work. She then does our daughter’s bath & bedtime while I get our own dinner ready. On those evenings when my wife is working late or is away, I tend to make a joint dinner for myself and our daughter.

But sometimes on these occasions, I prefer to give the kid her dinner as normal, and after packing her off to bed I indulge in a treat dinner for myself. A day of parenting can be tough, so unwinding with a dinner completely of my choice – that I don’t need to select with either my wife or daughter in mind – is all I want for an evening. Ok, that and wine. And a movie.

Iceland’s chicken nuggets served with homemade BBQ sauce would be a typical dad’s night in dinner for me. It’s a slightly grown up version of a childhood comfort food favourite – only this time consisting of Iceland’s chicken nuggets and my zingy BBQ dipping sauce.

Iceland’s frozen chicken nuggets are pretty tasty, which isn’t surprising as they’re made from 100% chicken breast. Having them in the freezer is not only really convenient, it also means I can cook only as many as I need (well, ok – want) while the rest can be stored for longer. That’s all part of the #PowerOfFrozen.

While the nuggets only took 15 minutes from freezer to plate via the oven, prepared earlier was my BBQ dipping sauce. It has real oomph, but if you’re less of a garlic & chilli fan than me, you can dial those back – especially if serving to kids (this would even be too much for my chilli eating daughter).

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Most of the ingredients are available from Iceland, and are easy to find & purchase either in store or online. This makes a big batch, but it can be frozen to use at a later date – perhaps with some frozen chicken nuggets for a last minute dad’s night in dinner?

Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • 1 small onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 red chillies (or equivalent of chilli flakes)
  • olive oil
  • 1tsp fennel seeds (crushed)
  • 1tsp english mustard
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 50ml dark soy sauce
  • 300ml tomato ketchup
  • 250ml apple cider
  • 1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 55g brown sugar (can be light, dark, or a mix)
  1. Finely chop or blitz onion, garlic, chillies
  2. In a medium pan, fry on a medium heat for five minutes
  3. Add fennel seeds and ginger – stir in
  4. Add ketchup, soy, Worcestershire sauce, and cider – stir in
  5. Add sugar, stir in
  6. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 10-15 mins
  7. When thickened, remove from heat
  8. Stir in mustard, and allow to cool before serving
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Iceland’s Chicken Nuggets with Homemade BBQ Sauce

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This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Iceland Foods. Their 100% Chicken Breast Nuggets are available to purchase either online or in store.