Tuesday, 22 December 2015

It's Games Night! Which game shall we play...

I absolutely love staying in, having a drink and playing games with friends. We have a little selection of games that I'm hoping will grow this Christmas. As it's the festive season and we will all be seeing more of our family and friends I thought I'd bring you some ideas of games you can play with different numbers of people!

Games to play with friends and family - board games activity

Games to play with friends and family - board games activity

First up is large groups, and by this I mean ten people and up. I've picked Cards Against Humanity, Taboo and a game which doesn't really have a name, so let's call it 'Describe'.

If you've already played Cards Against Humanity then you'll know it's a pretty awful game, so I wouldn't play it with family, by awful I mean its quite rude, also totally inappropriate and borderline offensive. It is however a really fun game that will have you creasing yourself for hours. The basic idea of the game is that you all get five white cards and then there is one black, one person reads the question or statement with a missing word out to the group and each person then picks there best, most hideous answer from the white cards they have. The black card reader then has to read everyone's answers anonymously and their favourite. You certainly get to know people's sense of humour when you play this!

Taboo is a great game. I get so competitive with this but as I get more drunk I become terrible at it. You basically have to describe the word without saying the other words listed on the card. I have a special version which has four ways to play including using 'Bendy Bob'.

Last is 'Describe'. This is a game I was taught round a friends house. Basically everyone writes about five words on different scraps of paper, folds them up and puts them in a bowl which is mixed up. Now you have a bowl full of words ready to use. The first round is a describing round where you can say whatever you want in order for your team to get the word on the paper. When you're done you total your score and then put all the paper back in the bowl ready for round 2. This round is the acting round. Just like charades, you act out the word on the paper. If you are good at remembering you'll be able to pick up words you've heard in the first round. If you are on the drink, then maybe not... The last round is one word! This is where you can only say one word to your team in order for them to guess the word you are describing. Again you can use your memory to help yourself! The team that wins is the one with the most points. We usually play boys V girls! I must say the girls are always better at this as they pay attention in the first round!

Games to play with friends and family - board games activity

Up next is games for small groups. Here I'm thinking if you have another couple round or maybe two couples, these games would be good. I've selected Cluedo, Trivial Pursuit and Heads Up!

Everyone knows Cluedo! It's a murder mystery game where you take it in turns to find the killer, the location they did the deed and what weapon they used. I've actually got the Simpsons one but it's the same thing. You can't play this with only two of you and three is a bit boring so I think this is great for a couples night or a evening in with the family.

Another classic game is Trivial Pursuit. A game of answering general knowledge questions in order to fill up your 'pie' with colourful bits of 'cake'. I'm obsessed with quizzes so this game is perfect for me. I think this game is good for all the family, especially the version I have as it has adults and kids questions.

Last up is a game that will have everyone laughing. Heads Up! is a iPhone game (not sure if you can also get it on Android) which is like the game we all played as a child where you stuck a post it note to your head with the name of someone and you had to guess who it was. This is more sophisticated and involves picking a category, of which there are quite a few free ones, then you have to guess as many as you can with others describing who you are. You normally put the iPhone to your head and then tilt it up or down depending if you get it right or want to pass. It's fast paced and fun. There is also a charades round where your friends and family have to act out what you are. When you are tipsy in a ferry bar acting out words, this game is hilarious.

Games to play with friends and family - board games activity

Last but not least, games for two people. Whether you have your friend popping over or you want a cosy night in with your partner, these games are for you. We have Connect 4, Scrabble and card games.

Connect 4, what a classic ey. Such a competitive game where you try to psyche your partner our and get in their head in order to win. We only have the travel size one but it's still a lot of fun.

Scrabble. Everyone's played it. It takes a while to get through I think, only because I can't think of any good words. All I can come up with is three letter words. I suppose it's better than nothing. This is a great game to play cosied up round the table, or on the floor with a blanket, and a glass of wine. Although don't drink too much or you'll forget how the letters go together...

Last is cards. Now yes I hear you saying that cards is better with more people than just two and this may be true. However there are a few games that only require two people of which I've played a few including; Crazy Eights and Go Fish. It's just nice to be able to sit on the sofa together and do something other than watch TV. Cards have you on edge trying to win before the other does.

I hope this post has given you some ideas for games to play with your friends and family.

If you have any good game suggestions please let me know in the comments or tweet me.
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Monday, 21 December 2015

Blogger date at Canteen and Cocktails

One of the things that I love about blogging is that you get the chance to meet lovely people who share your interests and likes, and eventually become your friends. One such person is Kloe from Skulls and Kisses. We've known each other for at least a year now and I love organising time to meet and have a catch up. Most of the time we like to do this over food. Our last 'blogger date' was no different.

We'd both heard of a local burger joint that had opened up called Canteen and Cocktails and like the bloggers we are, we knew we had to try it out. You know, for blog purposes...

Canteen and Cocktails - Norton Restaurant Review Teesside Burger

Canteen and Cocktails - Norton Restaurant Review Teesside Menu

Canteen and Cocktails - Norton Restaurant Review Teesside Interior

When we eventually tracked down the restaurant on Norton High Street, we went in and were quickly seated. The decor of this place is very much my style. Lots of wood and rustic metal furniture, exposed beams and eccentric industrial lighting. We were quickly given a menu and asked if we'd like a drink. Let me tell you, their cocktail menu is extensive! I wish I wasn't driving or I would have definitely had one. Although I'd probably have been there all day choosing which one to have. On the bar they even had their own infused vodka brewing in big glass jars with flavours like melon and chilli. I chose a coke... whilst Kloe got a frozen strawberry daiquiri...my favourite.

We quickly decided on food, I chose my usual, a cheeseburger with chips, whilst Kloe decided to get two sides, a mac and cheese and a portion of chips. When my burger arrived, as you can see on the pictures, it had a Canteen and Cocktails brand burned into the bun which I thought was a great touch. The burger itself was amazing. I was really dubious that it wouldn't be nice but once I'd taken out the red onion (ew) I got right into it and it was delicious. I wasn't fan of the chilli slaw but I did really enjoy the chips. They weren't very crispy but they were lovely and squidgy.

Kloe had a different experience with her food as she was bemused as to what was in her mac and cheese. On the menu it hadn't stated that it was anything special but when it arrived it looked like it had all-sorts in including meat and vegetables. She powered through it and said she enjoyed it although it was confusing.

Canteen and Cocktails - Norton Restaurant Review Teesside Burger

Canteen and Cocktails - Norton Restaurant Review Teesside Mac and Cheese

Canteen and Cocktails - Norton Restaurant Review Teesside Chocolate Brownie

As Kloe had decided she would be having a dessert I knew that I had to join her. They don't have an extensive dessert menu but it was big enough for me to find something that I liked. I chose the chocolate brownie with ice cream whilst Kloe picked the caramel sundae. My brownie was so nice but so rich! It was squishy in the middle with a crisp top, perfect with the vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and Dairy Milk buttons (I'm sure they were Dairy Milk!). I could only manage half as it was so rich but it was soo good!

Going in to Canteen and Cocktails I was very worried that we wouldn't like it as other people had told us they'd had bad experiences. From trying this myself I would definitely go back! I can't believe that a place that sells such good burgers has opened so close to me. I would recommend it to anyone in the area.
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Friday, 18 December 2015

Christmas time at Beamish

Last Friday night myself, Matthew and our friends piled in the car and set off to Beamish, which for us takes about 45 minutes. We were going to experience Christmas at Beamish which we were all very curious about.

We weren't sure what to expect. We wondered which parts would be open and what would be happening. When we arrived we were all very cold and windy. We went into the cafe in the entrance building and luckily they were giving everyone mulled wine which was lovely and warmed us up.

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

Beamish Museum Christmas Evening Night

We walked down to the tram stop and luckily one had just arrived so we jumped on and headed down to the Pit Village. There we had a look in the school and had a general wander about, stopping for a hot chocolate and a biscuit. When we'd had enough of the Village, we set off walking to the Town.

Everywhere was super Christmassy with colourful lights, festive wreaths and lots of paper decorations. On our walk to the town we passed the carousel and around it was a some Christmas stalls, a small ice rink and other rides. It wasn't massive, but it was cute.

When we got to the town all the shops and houses were kitted out in Christmas gear. There was people playing music on the bandstand and inside the houses which was lovely. We decided to go for a sit down in the pub so we could warm up. It was a cosy atmosphere in there with everyone popping in to shelter from the cold.

We looked around the other shops, stopping at the bakery to pick up a snack. When we'd had our fill there it was time to head back the entrance as the museum closes at 10pm. Although it was bitterly cold, it was a great evening out. If you like Beamish and enjoy being out and about at Christmas time, I'd definitely recommend a visit in the festive period.
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Thursday, 17 December 2015

Big Kids Gift Guide

Big Kids Christmas Gift Guide


The last gift guide for Christmas is one for the big kids. Those adults who insist on being childish. And to be honest there is nothing wrong with that...

Brown iPhone Projector - £25.00
I think this is such a cool little gift. The projector allows you to display your Iphone screen on the big screen, well not on a screen, on any large surface, i.e a wall. I think this would be brilliant to use after a holiday when you are showing people all your snaps!

Minion 8GB Flash Drive - £14.99
Minions are everywhere right now but you can't blame them. They are adorable and super fun! This little USB is very cute but also really useful! Great for someone who loves those little yellow devils!

Who really likes waking up in the morning...not me! This alarm clock makes you get up as it won't stop going off until you successfully hit the target! You've got to use all your accuracy as soon as you wake up in order to stop it. This would definitely wake me up. A brilliant gift for people who love to spend the day in bed. Well not any more...

Pop! Vinyls - vary from £8.99 to £25.00
As you may have gathered from the post I did about my spare room, myself and Matt have a little obsession with Pop! Vinyls. We started buying Game of Thrones ones but it has developed and we've now got Inside Out, Sherlock, NFL and Big Lebowski. They are great because Funko have created so many different sets that there is sure to be a character that you know your friend/family member will like!
These socks are a great little stocking filler. Cheeky socks that look like trainers. I think they are super cute!

Socker Boppers - £9.99

Big Kids Christmas Gift Guide Socker Boppers

Big Kids Christmas Gift Guide Socker Boppers

I recieved an email about these and thought they'd be the perfect item to fit in this gift guide. I was sent a pair of Socket Boppers to try out. They are inflatable 'boxing' gloves that I can definitely see would be great fun. I know quite a few adults that would love to have a go with these. Ideal for those who love a little tussle!

Hope you enjoyed this gift guide! Let me know if any of the ideas take your fancy!

That's it for gift guides now on the blog. I've done one for dog lovers, one for chocoholics, one for foodies and then this one! I hope you are all sorted for presents and are getting excited for Christmas! I know I am!

*Socker Boppers sent as a press sample. Reviews all my own.
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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

A Foodie's Gift Guide

Food Lovers Christmas Gift Guide

Kitchen Conversion Chopping Board - £14.99
A nice little home piece that you can give to your friends which is also very useful! The chopping board has lots of different kitchen conversions which will be brilliant for people who like to follow recipes.

Chilli Hanging Basket - £11.99
This is a great addition to anyone's kitchen! A hanging basket growing chillies that you can cut off and add to your cooking whenever you need. This is ideal for your friends who like a lot of heat in their food!

Build your own burger book - £9.99
For those people who like to change it up in the kitchen and try new things, this is for them. Well only if they are also burger lovers! This is a mix and match book where you can pair different toppings with unusual fillings. A great little stocking filler.

Pearl Oyster Kitchen Garden - £17.95
Ever since seeing these on TV I've wanted to pick up a pack to try! They grow inside in a warm environment, i.e your airing cupboard, and they don't take much time at all. There grown in old espresso beans so I'm sure they would be very tasty! This would brilliant for someone who loves to grow their own vegetables.

Steak Branding Iron - £32.00
This is such a fun little gift idea. It's not something that people would go out and buy, but as a gift, they'd love it. You can customise the brand with whatever you'd like it to say... within the character limit. A quirky gift for a steak lover. Maybe they'll even offer to cook you steak if you get them this!

The Flavour Thesaurus - £18.99

The Flavour Thesaurus - Qwerkity - Christmas Food Lovers Gift Guide

The Flavour Thesaurus - Qwerkity - Christmas Food Lovers Gift Guide

The Flavour Thesaurus - Qwerkity - Christmas Food Lovers Gift Guide

I was kindly sent the Flavour Thesaurus from Qwerkity to include in this gift guide, but only after I'd rigorously scoured the site for foodie gifts. This was definitely a winner! Although there isn't any pictures in this book, the content is brilliant. It goes through different ingredients detailing how they would go with other ingredients. It most certainly gives you something to think about when you have a read. Perfect for those who like to try something different in their cooking!
 If you are looking for gifts that are a little different definitely have a look at Qwerkity, they have Christmas gifts for men and women of all ages!

So what do you think?

Any of these take your fancy to pick up for your food loving friends and family?

*Flavour Thesaurus kindly sent to me to include in this gift guide but opinions remain my own.
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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Midweek meal ideas.

A few months ago I came across a post about ideas for midweek meals and it inspired me. I always seem to cook the same food week after week perfecting the recipe and only adding new dishes once every month. I thought it would be a good idea to share the meals that I always turn to in the hopes it will inspire your meal planning!

Chilli con carne
Chilli is such an easy meal to make. It's so warming and filling, perfect for the Winter! Rather than use a jar of sauce I always make my own which is just as quick but its better for you as you know what's going in. The recipe is here.


Chicken fajitas
This is my go to dish. Seriously I'm so lazy. We have fajitas like once a week. I just can never think of anything else as easy, quick and nutritious to put on my weekly meal plan. Same as the Chilli, I make this from scratch with no help from packets or mixes. You can obviously add what you like to your fajitas but I like chicken, mushroom, and peppers cooked in my spice mix (which is here). Then I add fresh avocado (or pre-made guacamole if I'm being lazy), some fresh tomatoes and Greek yoghurt!


Bacon and kale pasta 
I love pasta. It is so quick to make and you can add whatever you like. This recipe is not the healthiest but its yummy and it does have kale in so... winning. All you do is cook some pasta (I use wholemeal), oven cook your bacon whilst the pasta is on and then cut this into chunks. When your pasta is done, don't tip out the water just yet. Add the kale in (if it won't fit just squash it down, it will wilt) and when this is cooked drain the water. Add the bacon to the pan, put in a pot of ricotta cheese and stir through. There you go, a yummy warming winter pasta dish!


Lemon chicken pasta
Another pasta dish, can you blame me? This one is filled with chicken, lemon, cheese and spinach. I use this recipe which I found on Pinterest. It's really easy to follow and again quite a quick dish!


Chorizo, cabbage and bean broth
I'm always banging on about this broth but it is one of my favourites. Whenever I put it on the weekly meal plan, I can't wait to make. It so yummy and very morish. Seriously you need to make this. I've posted the recipe here.


Chicken wraps 
The humble chicken wrap. Similar to the fajitas but fresh and full of salad. I usually grill some chicken on my George Foreman grill and pull it apart, as you can see below. Then I cut up lots of lovely bits of salad including tomato, lettuce, cucumber and avocado then dollop some mayonnaise on the wrap and create a delicious meal. I love making wraps, they make me feel like I'm getting some real goodness!


Courgette boats
This dish takes a little more effort and time than the others but it is very yummy. Basically all you do is cut a courgette in half, spoon our the middle and fill with cooked rice, tomatoes, cooked mushrooms (you can wizz these in the microwave first to cook them) and chorizo. Sprinkle with cheese and then put in a baking tray filled with chicken stock. Put them in the oven for 40 minutes and when they come out they will be soft and crispy on top. YUM! I've listed some other recipes featuring courgettes here if you fancy a nosy.


I would absolutely love for you to share with me some easy meals that I can make midweek as I'm always up for adding to collection of recipes! Comment below with any links to recipes or ideas for midweek meals!

Hope I've given you some ideas of meals you can make!
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Monday, 14 December 2015

Homemade Lavender Sugar Body Scrub

This Christmas I've really been enjoying making homemade gifts for people. I've already posted about the personalised mugs and hot chocolate blocks I made and to add to these I've got a homemade sugar body scrub recipe. Inspired by Stephanie's blog about body scrubs, I've made this lovely lavender body scrub to give to my friends and family.

Homemade Lavender Sugar Body Scrub

Homemade Lavender Sugar Body Scrub

Homemade Lavender Sugar Body Scrub


Homemade Lavender Sugar Body Scrub

Homemade Lavender Sugar Body Scrub

To make this scrub is super easy and requires little ingredients:

- 20 drops of lavender essential oil
- 1/3 cup of almond oil
- 1 cup of sugar

Other items:
- Glass jars with seals
- Wooden spoon
- Mixing bowl (Make sure you use a fresh bowl and spoon that you won't be using again for food.)

First put your cup of sugar into your mixing bowl. Add the 20 drops of essential oil and mix thoroughly. When you are satisfied this is mixed well, add the almond oil a bit at a time giving it a really good mix. When your scrub reaches the consistency of moist sand it is done. 

I then scooped this into my jars, sealed them off and decorated with a strand of Christmas string and a label letting my friends/family know what ingredients are in the scrub, how long it should last, that they should mix it before use and also do a patch test first to ensure no irritation.

Homemade Lavender Sugar Body Scrub

Homemade Lavender Sugar Body Scrub

If you are keen to make a homemade scrub but don't fancy the lavender sugar one, I recommend you check out Stephanie's site as she has different varieties using different ingredients and has lots of information on essential oils. Make sure to read up on the essential oils before trying out your own!

What do you think? Would you make this?
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© gingerbread smiles.

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