It’s arrived! I have been waiting an absolute age for this, and after weeks of internal self debate, I finally took the plunge and purchased the bird house and it arrived yesterday.
Of course, knowing my luck the delivery was twice delayed by the worse delivery service known to, well everyone, but still I’m so happy that my brand new, half price bird house has finally arrived.
It may not be the colour I wanted, sage green, but that was snapped up by faster shoppers, so I’m for the moment happy to make do with the grey.
Setting up the flat packed bird house wasn’t so challenging, the instruction sheet wasn’t the best, but I managed to muddle through the DIY process in about 40 minutes, only slowed down by taking photographs and the ridiculous lack of pilot holes. Honestly for an item that was originally priced as the best part of £40, you would have thought they could have drilled in the pilot holes. For the DIY novice, who may be a little heavy handed or over enthusiastic with a screw driver, this could prove disastrous. The wood used isn’t very dense, I suppose to ensure a lower end cost, however it means that it is quite easy to split the pieces, rendering the entire bird house unusable.
That said, the top is very heavy once assembled, and I wonder if the design could be further improved with a quadrapod rather than a tripod base – we shall see.
For the sale price of just under £20, I think I may have made a good deal. I certainly wasn’t going to purchase it for the original sale price of around £40, it simply isn’t worth it, considering the rather poor standard of the pieces. I’m glad that they included a couple of spare screws – at least I hope they are spare – but the paint finish looks like it will need retouching in only a matter of weeks. I have a sample pot of Wilko English sage green in standby.
The over all look of the bird house is pleasing, and which initially led me to this item. I’ve compared other bird houses in a few major DIY and garden stores, and shape wise, this is my favourite. Selling from £40 upwards, the quality varied from cheap and tacky to fairly robust but over priced. So for £20, I’m pleased with the end item, but it’s just a pity that more attention to detail and quality control, this could have been so much more.
For day 3 of Caribbean Food Month, it’s time for a review. Coconut milk is one of the stables when it comes to Caribbean cookery. This versatile ingredient can be used in sweet and savoury dishes and lends itself to a multitude of international culinary treats. It also serves as an alternative to dairy.
Dunn’s River Coconut Milk has a thick, smooth texture with a light coconut flavour, meaning that it will work well with tea and coffee. It doesn’t have that sometimes clawy aftertaste when sampled on its own, although it does have a tendency to separate. But a quick stir with a spoon soon resolves that issue.
As a product in its own right, I can’t find much to fault it. As the saying goes, it say’s exactly what it is on the tin. As an ingredient, it works well without any problems, responding to heat well. It’s a great product to have in your pantry.
Rating 4.5 out of 5
Tomorrow’s blog includes recipe ideas featuring Dunn’s River Coconut Milk. Please return to find out more. Thanks for reading and if you’re in the UK or Spain – try to stay cool. I adore the sun, but 38 degrees is my limit. The thought of having to work in potentially 48 degree heat, makes the mind boggle. Best of luck!
Apple juice. It’s sharp, tart and tongue-twistingly sweet. Coupled with the often odd, unnatural looking colourisation, which let’s be honest can be mistaken for something else, apple juice is usually best avoided where possible. Or so I thought until I tried the cold pressed Golden Delicious apple juice from Coldpress.
As it’s namesake suggests, the apples are cold pressed rather than heat treated to extract their juice resulting in a clean, fresh, refreshingly enjoyable drink.
The ingredient list is reassuringly short, just apple juice and added vitamin C. An added bonus, the usual saccharin sweet flavour associated with some apple juice drinks, has been usurped by a true apple taste that can only come from apples, in particular, the Golden Delicious variety.
Instantly impressive it is clear to see how the cold-pressed process has enhanced this juice, to produce a product that can be regarded as a healthy alternative to sugary soft drinks.
Straight out of the fridge cold is the best way I believe to enjoy this apple juice, and beyond the obvious thirst quenching qualities, as an ingredient, this drink could prove ideal for cooking and baking recipes, such as smoothies, apple pies, cocktails and apple bread. At around £1.40 for a 250ml bottle, the price isn’t bad either.
Being the best apple juice I’ve tried since I can’t remember when, the only fair score I can give this drink is a full 10 out of 10.
This time last week, I was enjoying a great masterclass, held by the owner of Elizabeth D Bakes, hosted by the Piccadilly branch of Whole Foods Market. Elizabeth demonstrated no less than 3 different recipes – pistachio brownie, carrot cake and lime tart.
My absolute favourite was the carrot cake, with it’s wonderful spicy mix and delicious carrots. The lime icing really brought out the flavour of the gluten-free cake, much better in my opinion than the traditional cream cheese frosting, and for far less calories.
The brownie while delicious, was my less favourite of the trio, partly because as much as I would love to, I still can’t really get my head around chia seeds. To me they look too much like frog spawn when reconstituted and they don’t match the flavour and consistency of eggs.
In contrast, the lime pie was a lovely treat – delicious, moist, crumbly and full of delicious citrus flavour. It came a close second to the carrot cake, and it’s nice to know that the entire pie can be frozen at different stages, so that you will always have one ready on standby.
The masterclass was a great eye opener for me. Simply substituting just a few inexpensive ingredients can produce cakes and bakes which are just as delicious as the traditional version, if not more so. The added bonus, these recipes tend to be a whole lot healthier and less calorific, due to their free from, gluten free and/or vegan attributes.
We are all given goodie bags, which included 2 Elizabeth D Bakes banana breads. I shall review the banana bread at a later date. I will also try the recipes given at the event and report back.
One of the best masterclasses of the year so far – fun, informative and generous yummy samples provided. Eating cake for Sunday brunch can’t be beaten.
This is the 2nd in the series of Teapigs product reviews. This time I tried out the liquorice and peppermint tea. I was impressed with the ingredient list – 70% liquorice, 30% peppermint and that’s it, it’s exactly as it says on the packet.
I will quickly mention the packaging, I love the design, clean, simple and most importantly, recyclable. The tea bags are also biodegradable, so perfect to add to the compost bin after use.
The tea itself is delicious, the peppermint component is tasty, refreshing and easy to drink in vast quantities. The liquorice adds a sweet dimension to the tea and complements the peppermint flavour. My only gripe, I think there is a little too much liquorice for even my fairly sweet tooth.
That said, in the summer I imagine that a couple of bags would make a beautiful iced tea, with some fresh sprigs of mint and a few orange and lemon slices. If like me, you find the tea a little too sweet as a hot beverage, try using 1 bag between 2 servings. The quality of the ingredients used means that you can be economical with the tea bags, without compromising on flavour.
I would also suggest drinking this with Moroccan style meals, or using as an healthy alternative to sugary drinks, coffee or black teas.
At £4.49 for 15 bags, it’s a little on the pricy side compared with other herbal teas, but it’s more than justified, because of the high quality ingredients. As I mentioned before, if you find the tea too sweet, you can share a bag between 2 cups, effectively doubling the servings to 30.
Rating 4 out of 5
Have you tried liquorice and peppermint tea? What did you think of it? Please comment below and subscribe for more reviews from Champagne Twist.
These are my top 5 YouTube Sites for 2016 (in no particular order) –
Kristabel Always interesting, and often thought provoking Kristabel’s YouTube channel has given me loads of inspiration during 2016 in the realms of travel, fashion and lifestyle.
Lorraine Pascale My favourite ever chef and one of the most multi talented and inspirational people ever, Pascale proves you can achieve your dreams and eat cake too!
At Home With Nikki If you love anything to do with home decor, you need to check out this youtube channel. Nikki plus Homes and Gardens to shame.
TED-Ed another highly inspiration and educational resource, Ted-Ed has 100s of videos covering a wide range of subjects – there is something for everyone.
The Resistance with Keith Olbermann – Keith Olbermann is a riot! If like me you were disappointed with the results of the recent US election, check out Olbermann’s posts. If nothing else he will give you hope for 2017.
Earlier this week I promised a review of the goodie bag I received at the Vegan Life Live event at Alexandra Palace. Well, here it is …
Vegan Life Live show goodie bag cover champagnetwist.wordpress.com
Vegan Life Live show goodie bag cover champagentwist.wordpress.com
First, a nice note with the large reuseable and recyclable paper bag. The printed quotes outside the bag were also a nice touch.
The inside of the bag held a number of treats, and proved to be one of the most generous goodie bags I have been fortunate to receive from many a festival or show.
Linwoods: Milled flax, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and goji berries.
Ape: Coconut bites – natural
Vita Coco: Coconut oil, 5ml
Sacla: Free From no.9 basil pesto
Sweet Freedom: Fruit Syrup, 350g
Naturya: Organic wheatgrass powder
Since the show, I have tested the goodies and here are my thoughts on each product;
Linwoods: Milled seed and goji mix
This is a new product for me, and I have to say, I like it. On it’s own it tastes great, adding it to salads and cereals, it’s superb. I think this would be a useful ingredient in many recipes, especially soups, breads and stews. It could also be used as an alternative seasoning. However, I wonder if making your own seed and berry mix would be more advantageous. It’s a great idea and versatile, but personally I think I would prefer to make my own.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Ape: Coconut bites – natural
The actual coconut bites in this sample pack are tasty, but I find the brand name very off putting. Dont really understand why anyone would call a food product aimed at the vegan market after an animal, but hey! Also not sure many people would be comfortable purchasing a product often used as a term of racial abuse.
The bites are the size of 2, 10 pence coins, have a crunchy texture and a very coconutty flavour. There is some sweetness, but it’s not overpowering. It would be easy to eat a normal sized pack of these in a sitting. However, personally I would stick to raw, fresh coconut pieces, but if you like potato crisps, these could be a viable and healthier alternative.
Rating 3 out of 5
Vita Coco: Coconut oil 5ml
It’s coconut oil! It’s brilliant! Nuff said! Nice and useful pocket size I can use as a hand cream whilst travelling. A fabulous thing I discovered at the Vita Coco stall was fresh popcorn cooked in coconut oil. It was delicious. The money off vouchers included are an added bonus.
Rating 5 out of 5
Sacla: Free From no.9 basil pesto, 190g
As a pesto loving eater, I was very excited to try this tofu version, cheese free version, especially as I just happened to use the last of my pesto stash. Yes, I usually have a pesto stash. It’s a thing. Don’t judge!
I tried it on a baked potato, and it was lovely. Plenty of basil flavour and has a good creamy consistency. With a sunflower oil base, I do miss the flavour that comes with organic olive oil and I think it could have done with a higher amount of pine nuts and a lower amount of cashew nuts.
That said, as a full sized product, I think it was a rather lovely sample size and I have made room in my fridge for this little gem. Nice to know I have lunch sorted for the next couple of days.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Sweet Freedom: Fruit Syrup, 350g
A very generous size, I found this syrup extremely sweet, so a little goes a long way. I used it over unsweetened breakfast cereals and found it very enjoyable. It’s nice to know that there is only 13 calories per teaspoon, but I only needed to use 1/2 a teaspoon. I hope to try baking with it, but over pancakes this should be great.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Naturya: Organic wheatgrass powder, 7g
I’m new to the whole wheatgrass vibe, somehow it missed me. So I’m particularly glad to give this a try. I added a teaspoon to a glass of coconut water and the verdict – I would happily do this again. It gave a fresh ‘green’ taste to the coconut water, and I would say it would be lovely with apple juice, lemon water and an elderflower drink, I can’t imagine this being nice with orange juice, but I’d geive it a try and let you know.
The only slight quibble, the powder is so finely milled, it does tend to go everywhere. But as the colour of the year is Greenery, I’m not too bothered as I can say it’s part of my new decorating colour scheme 🙂
Rating: 4 out of 5
Did you go to Vegan Life Live? What did you think of the goodie bag? Have you used any of these products? Let us know in the comments.
Thanks for reading, and please subscribe for more.
Perhaps I received a dud candle. Maybe the scent is so subtle I can’t detect it. But after several hours of burning time, the room has yet to smell like pine, frosted for otherwise.
This is a huge disappointment as I was really looking forward to my living room smelling like an winter alpine forest.
The colour is a lovely shade of pine green. The candle melts evenly, and the art work on the plastic surround looks really festive. There is plenty of after use with the glass votive, and the minimum packaging is a plus. The main problem I have with this candle, is the total lack of scent, and as an item marketed as a scented candle, that is very disappointing.
Unlike the Febreze Spiced Apple candle which I absolutely loved, I found the Vanilla Latte version very disappointing. To be fair, I’m not a fan of anything to do with coffee, unless it’s used to enhance the flavour of a chocolate cake. I could hardly detect any vanilla notes, just a faint back note of coffee, which oddly made me feel hungry.
The scent throw wasn’t very prominent, which thankfully in this case wasn’t a bad thing. The wax colour was a lovely rich creamy shade, and the wrap surround, whilst I’m not a huge fan of, has a more expensive look than the artwork on the spiced apple.
If you are a fan of coffee shop aromas, or like affordable candles with reusable glass votives, I would give this product a try. However if you are looking for a strong vanilla scent or dislike coffee, then I suggest you stay clear.
If you like anything spiced apple scented, I recommend you give this candle a try. At around £3.50 for 100g, it’s settles in the lower price range, but the quality surpassed that of many higher priced candles. The scent throw is very good, filing the average sized room in a matter of minutes, and lasts for a good hour or so after the candle has been extinguished.
If you need something to cover up cooking smells, the odour eliminating properties of this candle does the trick, without producing an over sweet, chemically aroma. It produces a rather lovely, cosy and welcoming fragrance.
The colour is a very festive berry red, and the glass votive can remain useful long after the candle has melted.
The slight grumble I have is the decorative plastic surround on the votive, which I think cheapens the look, but thankfully it can be easily removed.
In all, one of the best candles in the price range I have used in a long time.
Rating 4 out of 5.
My next review will be Febreze’s Vanilla Latte, so please subscribe to make sure you don’t miss out on this or other posts by Champagne Twist.