Kidloland Preschool App – A review

Oscar and I love technology. Always have. From as soon as he could grasp for it with his pudgy little baby hands, he wanted to play with my phone. And now I have an iPad he’s taken his love of app based entertainment to another level. I don’t have a problem with this. My son’s autism means he learns in a very visual way and I’ve found apps, of all kinds, to be thoroughly useful for him. From hand eye coordination to speech and vocabulary to problem solving and plain old having fun, we love apps in this house. So when I was approached by Kidloland to try out their app I was intrigued. Here was an app that wasn’t just songs or just games or just fun, it seemed to be a bit of everything. We couldn’t wait to try it out!

Kidloland is a app designed specifically for preschoolers and toddlers. It has over 500 Nursery Rhymes, Songs, Stories, Activities and Games, with no advertising what so ever. Advertising in apps for children is a bug bear of mine so I was pleased to find none here. It works on a subscription basis of 1, 6 or 12 months. We used to subscribe to BabyTV and that was just short cartoons. There is so much more to this.

The app

My first impression of the app, on downloading it from the iStore, was it was huge! There are just so many different parts to it! As always, when I download content for Oscar, I took a look around myself first and I’m so glad I did. I found each ‘pack’ needs to be downloaded to your device individually before using it. I’m glad I realised this before giving it to Oscar, as I know he’d have been frustrated had he not been able to access everything straight away. The downloading does take a little time, but fortunately there is a “download all” function for each pack. I did have an issue downloading one of the songs, but I remedied this by skipping that one and downloading it individually. I also told Kidloland about it and they gratefully handed the info over to the tech team so it may not be an issue any more.

The look of the app is bright and fun, with all original characters and animations.  I have all the packs in the app, but you can choose which ones to download. I love that, as it means you can concentrate on a particular theme if you prefer. It also allows you to control how much memory the app takes up, which if you download the whole thing is a lot! However, downloading it means you don’t need a signal (or wifi) to use it, which is a definite plus point for me!

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Just some of the packs available on the Kidloland app

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The content

It is split into sections you would expect such as stories, numbers, games etc. But I love that it also has other sections such as fruits and vegetables, months of the year and even a whole section devoted to dinosaur themed activities!

It even has a Dinosaur section!

It even has a Dinosaur section!

The pineapple song!

Fun with fruit!

Learning Letters!

Learning Letters!

I assumed Oscar would be drawn to the games and initially he was, but after a while I noticed he was playing more with the songs. The nursery rhymes are set to interactive animations. Touching the characters makes them move or do surprising little things, which he seemed to love! I just love the concentration in his face here. Getting video of Oscar is so hard, but I love that he’s so engrossed here he doesn’t even notice me!

Thoughts

Kidloland is well made, well thought out app, which keeps on expanding (I’ve had two more packs updated since we originally downloaded). Oscar starts school in a few weeks and some of the games were a little simple for him, but he still found things to enjoy and good fun to be had. I only wish we’d found this app a year or more ago! It would be a great learning app for younger toddlers.

There is so much do and chose from in Kidloland. Although your child is bound to find favourites, they’ll never be bored.

 

 

Thank you Kidloland for gifting us a 12 month subscription for the purposes of this review. As always I wasn’t paid to write this post and all opinions are my own.

You can download the app for iOS, Google Android and Amazon Android.

 

Uniform Name Labels from My Name Label

It’s that time of the year. School Uniform is everywhere you look, and for the first time it’s all over my house too. Oscar starts school in September, so I’ve been buying pieces here and there for weeks now. It’s so cute in some respects and so heart breaking in others. I’m too scared to have him try it on all at once yet! What if I crumble completely?

Either way, I’ve spent a lot of time and energy and, lets not beat about the bush, money on this uniform. I certainly want it to come home with him every night! And so it falls to me to start the job every mama dreads. Labelling the uniform!

When I was a kid there was one choice of label (as far as I know). They were embroidered and probably came from Cash’s. My mum sat diligently sewing each and every label into each and every item of uniform we had. And there were three of us!

Three school uniforms to label. My poor mum!

Three school uniforms to label. My poor mum!

When I first started to think about labels I assumed I’d go the same way. That embroidered labels were the one and only option. But when I asked about, I found things had certainly moved on. The choice it would appear is now endless, and everyone seems to have their preference. So when I was asked if I’d like to try some iron on and stick on labels from My Name Label, I was very grateful!

The British franchise of an Australian brand, My Name Label stocks lots of different kinds of labels, from allergy awareness to personalised address labels, but their mainstay is uniform name labels. They have various different designs to chose from including different colours, fonts and images to customise your labels with, which were super easy to pick on the website. I could see the options appearing in a proof image as I chose them which was really helpful. Originally I was against the idea of an image next to the name, as I felt it made the label look messy. But then it occurred to me that customising the label with a simple image would give Oscar a visual cue that this item was his. Perfect for a child who can’t yet read his full name and particularly for one who has a strong visual memory.

So I placed my order and received my labels within days which surprised and delighted me!

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My Combination Pack from My Name Labels

I received a combination pack, which was basically a bit of everything:

  • White Iron On labels in Standard and Mini
  • Silver Stick On labels in Big, Small and Mini,
  • Silver Shoe Stickers
  • Bag Tag.

I love how it all matches! I chose to have the iron on ones in white, as I wasn’t sure how they’d wash otherwise. But I loved the silver and so chose that for the stickers!

The stickers are fairly self explanatory I guess. They’re a strong but flexible plastic, no paper involved and so far have dishwashered well! After all, what point is there to a bottle label that can’t be dishwashered?

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My Stick On Labels, great for water bottles, and pencil cases and book bags etc

The iron on labels were all new to me. Thankfully they came with clear instructions, which was great for a novice like me. The idea is to peel one off, put it where you want it, cover it with the covering paper provided, iron for 15 seconds, then remove the paper. Easy.

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The Iron On labels adhere to most fabrics

TopTip #1 Do not under any circumstances leave the sheet of labels on the item of clothing you’re about to iron. I did. I am a fool!

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Uh Oh

Three labels ruined! I had to turn off the iron and wait for it to completely cool before I could get the molten plastic off. This took ages! However, I understand the likelihood of you being as stupid as me are slim, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. And by the way I did manage to get it all off. Thank goodness!

Top Tip #2 If you leave the job half way through, make sure you put the cover paper somewhere safe. While I waited for the iron to cool before degunking, I left everything out on the ironing board. When I came back, the wind had blown the paper away and it took ages to find it. Again, I have faith that you’re less messy than me, but I thought it was worth noting, because if you lose that paper it pretty much renders the labels unusable. You can replace it with non stick baking paper (such as Bake-o-Glide) but what a pain that would be if you’d left it to the last minute to label the clothes and you had none in the house? Basically, look after your cover paper.

I decided to try the labels out on several different materials and it seemed to adhere well regardless. And as it’s not a sticker, but rather a plastic you melt into the cloth, there is hardly any chance of it lifting or washing off. Much better than I imagined to be honest.

Lay the label where you want it and lay the cover paper over it. The label doesn't stick before you iron it so make sure it's in the right place before you iron.

Lay the label where you want it and lay the cover paper over it. The label doesn’t stick before you iron it so make sure it’s in the right place before you iron.

Hot dry iron (no steam needed here) for up to 15 seconds. Remembering to keep any other labels out of the way!

Hot dry iron (no steam needed here) for up to 15 seconds. Remembering to keep any other labels out of the way!

Remove the cover paper et voila!

Remove the cover paper et voila!

Also adheres just as well to the garment itself!

Also adheres just as well to the garment itself!

I haven’t tried the shoe stickers yet as we are waiting to get his shoes until September. As he doesn’t start school until the third week I thought I’d wait and miss the crush! But they are similar to the other stickers, designed to sit under the heel and come with a clear top coat sticker for extra protection from little boy’s smelly feet.

But I do love the bag tag. It’s the same design and is a tough piece of plastic on elastic. How cute it this?

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Despite my own silly mistakes I really like the labels I got from My Name Labels. Because there is no stitching they’re unlikely to rub or cause any irritation, something that many of my SEND friends will have to consider. They also look particularly smart on his uniform. Now he just has to try it all on together.

And I have to not cry when he does!

 

 

 

 

Thank you to My Name Labels for sending us these labels to review.

I was not paid to write this post and as always all opinions are my own.

 

Thaikhun Restaurant Children’s Menu – A Review

In May I was invited to the launch of a new restaurant in Guildford, specialising in Thai style street food. Thaikhun (pronounced Tycoon) are a small chain with 8 branches across the UK. I had a lovely evening at the launch, meeting the joint owner Kim Kaewkraikhot. We talked all about her life in Thailand, making award winning noodles. How when her now business partner, tasted them, he was inspired to invest in her and develop Thaikhun in the UK. Such an interesting story!

The Look

The decor of the restaurant is fantastic. Authentic and fun it’s designed especially to remind diners of the street markets of Kim’s home country. She even explained how she hand picks many of the items used for decoration on her trips back to Thailand. It was clear to see the time and thought that had gone into it.

A replica of the cart Kim sold her food from. Every restaurant has one to remind them of where the idea for Thaikhun came from. You can see the 'train tracks on the floor too. These run throughout the restaurant. Many of the markets in Thailand are built over train tracks and have to be picked up periodically to let the trains through!

A replica of the cart Kim originally sold her food from. Every restaurant has one to represent Thaikhun’s humble beginnings. See the ‘train tracks’ on the floor? Many of the markets in Thailand are built over train tracks and have to be picked up periodically to let the trains through!

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The decor is authentic down to the old sets playing Thai TV in the corner!

The Food

I love Thai food, but I don’t get out to eat it much since moving away from London. The food I tried at Thaikhun was hands down some of the best I’ve had. Noodles, of course, but also curries, salads, various stir fried dishes and options from the grill. The enthusiastic staff seemed keen to explain that Thai food doesn’t just begin and end with Pad Thai. And I’m so glad they did. It’s the thing I always order in Thai restaurants, partly because I love it and partly because it’s the dish I’m most familiar with I guess. However, when I was given the Pork Belly with Green Beans in Red Curry Sauce (Moo Prik King), well, all that changed. Juicy pork, with a flavoursome heat and crunchy beans!  I could have eaten a bucket of just that. With some sticky rice perhaps. Delicious!

Starting the meal with spicy crackers and a cocktail in a box? Yes please!

Starting the meal with spicy crackers and a cocktail in a box? Yes please!

Starters

A selection of starters. The Fishcakes were gorgeous little morsels!

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Take your pick. A selection of mains including the ever popular Pad Thai

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My new favourite Moo Prik King. Pork Belly with Green Beans in Red Curry Sauce. Amazeballs!

While I was chatting to the management I asked whether they felt the restaurant was suitable for children (once a mummy blogger always a mummy blogger after all!) I could see there were plenty of high chairs and a changing facility, but wondered if the busy decor and bustling feeling might be too much for some children. They told me that they were actually working on their children’s offering and asked if I would be willing to come back when it was launched to let them know my thoughts. I said I’d love to.

High chairs

Plenty of (decent) high chairs!

Children’s Menu

I have to admit I was concerned whether Oscar would cope with the busy decor and the unusual food. His autism means we can never be sure how he’ll cope in new places, so to be sure I could offer a fair review I actually took him for lunch a few weeks beforehand. He did brilliantly and loved the busy decor, especially the Garfield Phone! We ordered the PopCorn Chicken from the old children’s menu and I gave him some of my rice. He tried it all, including the spicy prawn crackers. I actually thought the children’s options were pretty good (and tasted lovely!) The only niggle was that I had to ask three different people to bring him crayons to colour his menu mat and by the time they did he’d lost patience and wanted to leave.

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What else do you do with the cloche over the condiments?

The Garfield phone went down a storm!

The Garfield phone went down a storm!

Going back he was much calmer and knew where he wanted to sit. It was interesting to see the new menus. They had retained the Pad Thai and Pop corn style chicken and rice options, but had introduced a Mix n Match option. I loved this idea as it allows children to pick the elements they liked and mix with a choice of three sauces, making the dish as flavoursome or not as taste dictates. Brilliant!

The new Thaikhun Children's Menu

The new Thaikhun Children’s Menu

All children’s meals start with crudités (vegetable sticks), then I chose him the plain noodles, the char grilled chicken and a nut free satay sauce. My thinking was that he likes chicken, occasionally eats noodles and adores peanut butter! It came, not on a plate as before, but in a yellow version of the compartmentalised school dinner tray, with plastic cutlery. I couldn’t really work out why, although I know some children prefer the compartmentalised approach to food, so maybe it was that. I have to say it didn’t really add anything to the experience for us.  The chicken was lovely  and the noodles were, well, noodles. He wouldn’t add the sauce to them, which was a real shame, as I think it would have been much tastier if he had! Ahh well that’s my boy. Maybe next time. But all in all I loved this idea. Children love control over the food they eat and this hands it to them nicely.

Child's meal tray

Children’s meals come in these trays. Great if your child likes to keep their food separate, but plenty of room to mix it up if they would prefer.

As a bit of fun the restaurant also serve all children a small pot of ‘creepy crawlies’ or Buffalo Worms as they’re actually called, to try. Oaty in flavour they were perfectly inoffensive, but Oscar would not touch them, telling me “You don’t eat worms Mummy!” Far too sensible my chap 😂. The dessert for the set childrens menu was a Mini Milk Lolly. Which I have to say I wasn’t sure about. A branded lolly, very squarely aimed at young toddlers, in a culturally specific restaurant, after a meal aimed, I would say, at children of all ages. It felt a bit odd to me, but the boy didn’t seem to mind and it would have meant we could have taken it with us if we’d needed to leave in a hurry, something I’m always appreciative of!

Buffalo Worms to try.

“You don’t eat worms mummy!” Buffalo Worms to try.

Green tea ice cream

The Boy got a Mini Milk, I got Green Tea Ice Cream. Mummy wins this one kiddo!

Thoughts

I like Thaikhun child’s offering. The food is well pitched and can be adjusted to how adventurous the child is feeling! The only thing I was a little disappointed with was what came with the food. On the new Menu it talks about “Fun Facts and Activities with National Geographic”. I like this idea. Something more than just a colouring option would definitely raise it above other children’s dining options on the high street. However other than the worms, we saw nothing of these. Oscar was just bought an old menu to colour, albeit much quicker than before. It was perfectly nice and all and I don’t have anything against colouring as an activity. I don’t know, maybe I was just expecting something a little bit different.

Maybe I was just expecting more than an old menu and some crayons.

Maybe I was just expecting more than an old menu and some crayons.

Would I recommend it as somewhere to take children?

I like that the children’s menu is flexible and the staff have always been unremittingly helpful and warm. If you have a child that is happy to veer away from the beige choices of potato based meals, then I would absolutely recommend it.

And if you’re taking them, it means you get to have Moo Prik King. You lucky thing 😉

Happy boy = Happy Mummy

Happy boy = Happy Mummy

 

 

Thank you so much to Thaikhun for their generous hospitality. I was not paid to write this review and as always all opinions are my own.

You can find your nearest Thaikhun here

Father’s Day Gift Ideas, for any Dad in your life

May is here are the weather has (occasionally) been fantastic! Honestly, when’s it’s been nice, we couldn’t have asked for better. A warm sun with a gentle breeze. Perfect! It’s allowed us to do one of the things we love the most, which is get out in our garden. It’s is so much bigger than the house, that when the weather’s nice we tend to gravitate out there, to play, relax and soak up some vitamin D. And when we can, we also love a good barbecue. We had the first BBQ of the year last week. Ben’s very proud of his BBQ. I call it the behemoth, because not only is it a grill, but it’s also a smoker too. If you’re interested in smoking or slow barbecuing you can read my post about it here.

He's very proud of his BBQ!

He’s very proud of his BBQ!

It’s a proper man toy and a few years ago Oscar bought Ben a snazzy set of BBQ tools (in their own case that look something like an assassin might carry) for Father’s Day. Ben was thrilled with them and they’ve been used every barbecue season since, to turn the food and prod the coals. They were a good present!

But I’m never sure what to get Ben for Father’s Day and I always leave it to the last minute. I’m hoping when Oscar’s older he can have some kind of input or even better make him something so I don’t have to make the decision, but for now it’s my job. I’m trying to get ahead of myself this year with some ideas. But where to start? I decided to looks at previous year’s gifts and see if I can get any inspiration from those. And if you can too, well that’s just dandy!

2012

A cast of Oscar's 8 week old footprint. A proper first Father's Day gift.

A cast of Oscar’s 8 week old footprint. A proper first Father’s Day gift.

Ben’s first Father’s Day and Oscar was only two months old. All Ben (and I) really wanted that year was sleep. Oh precious sleeeeeep. But as that wasn’t going to happen, I went for a keepsake instead, buying a cast of Oscar’s tiny foot from a local company called Little Impressions. I have to say this was a perfect first Father’s Day gift, but I probably wouldn’t have bought it any other year. Although it was quite expensive at the time, I’m really glad I did it. Isn’t it gorgeous?

2013

Father and Son. This picture is framed and in our lounge.

Father and Son. This picture is framed and in our lounge.

I wanted to get something a little bit personal to Ben and Oscar and by chance had taken this photo on my phone a few weeks before Father’s Day. It’s not the best quality photo, but Ben loved the image, especially as he didn’t know I’d taken it. I got it printed through an online printer (Photobox I think) and the frame from Homebase.

2014

A manly gift for Father's Day

Serious BBQ utensils for a serious BBQ chef! All stored in a serious looking case!

As I mentioned I was inspired by Ben’s purchase of the BBQ just before Father’s Day with this one. It’s less personal, but very ‘Fatherly’ and it was received just as well. I bought it from Amazon, but I’ve seen for sale it in various places.

2015

I love this image I captured last Father's Day. Twinning is win, with love.

I love this image I captured last Father’s Day. Twinning is winning, with love.

I loved it and so did Little Bird, who chose it to be part of their Father's Day post last year.

Little Bird also loved it, and chose it to be part of their 2015 IG Father’s Day post. Obviously our photo is the best right? 😉

Last year I had already bought Oscar a tshirt from Little Bird at Mothercare when they released a limited edition, Daddy size version just in time for Father’s Day. My guys had never done twinning before, but how cute is this? Even more cute was that Little Bird chose my Instagram picture of the boys in their tees for their Father’s Day Post. This was a lovely present and even though Oscar has grown out of his (boohoo), Ben still wears his.

So there we go. Seems I like personal gifts or those that are practical. And I think they’re the kind of gifts Ben likes too (although I think he probably prefers manly, Fatherly gifts) And short of buying him a flat cap and a pipe here are some of the ideas I have had for this year.

I love this bunting from Bonkers for Bunting. What a super idea for decorating for Father’s Day and if the Dad in your life has an office or a workroom or even a shed they spend lot of time in, what a lovely decoration and reminder of their children’s love all the year round. I love that these buntings are completely customisable, so if you would prefer Daddy or even some other name then they can accommodate you! Plus they’re all handmade with love by a mumtrepreneur down in beautiful Devon. What more could you ask for?

Bunting for Father's Day.

Beautiful handmade bunting for Father’s Day.

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If the Dad in your life likes to think that he’s handy, but is really more of a hacker then how about some Sugru, the crazy mouldable glue made for life hackers. This stuff is mind boggling, both in it’s properties and the amount of incredibly useful things it can be used for. It starts out soft like putty but dries to a hard but flexible, waterproof, cold proof, heat resistant to 180°C rubber, that sticks to most materials. I’ve been trying to think of things round our house that need Sugru and the more I think the more I come up with. Frayed cables need mending, the freezer drawer is cracked, pan handles need fixing, the rubber feet on the toastie maker need replacing, seriously the list goes on. Ben is a keen gardener and you know how gardeners love a good hack to help them grow their veggies, so I can imagine this would also be really useful down at the allotment!

In case I haven’t described it very well here’s a fab 89 second long explanation of what Sugru is!

They produce all sorts of different size packs and kits, but if you’re new to Sugru then maybe the Starter Kit is for you.

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This includes

  • 5 single use packs of Sugru in Classic Red, Snow White, Pitch Black, Mossy Green and Silver Grey
  • a practical storage tin
  • a booklet chock full of project ideas and how-to guides

So if the dad is your life loves to fix rather than replace (and good on him if he does) or just likes to save a bit of money along the way, this is the gift to help him do just that!

Hope these ideas have been of some help. Let me know what you’re thinking of giving this Father’s Day. I’d love to know.

 

 

 

 

I would like to thank Sugru for gifting me the Starter Kit to try. None of the other products were gifted to me.

I was not paid to write this review and as always my opinions are my own.

 

 

Mrssavageangel Slimming World Week 14

I know, I know. I haven’t written one of these for the past two weeks. That’s due in part to the boy being off on his preschool Easter holidays. I find it so hard to concentrate when he’s around, particularly to write these posts, where I have to think hard about what I want to say. And if I’m honest it’s also in part because I’ve not had much to say. I gained 3lb over the Easter break. I stopped trying so hard when we went away and then it was so difficult to refocus when we came back. Why is that? Why is it so hard to fall back into negative habits, but so hard to stick to new positive ones?

Anyway, I’m disappointed with my results over Easter, but actually when I think about it (and look back at last year’s blog post) it’s almost exactly the same as what happened last Easter. And I pulled it back then. That’s good to know.

So this week, I actually started, albeit very slowly, to turn the tide, with 0.5lb off.

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So I’m back to having lost 13.5lb, dipping just back under the stone. And as that makes me sad, and I don’t like feeling sad, I need to change that asap!

And I plan to do that with the aid of a slow cooker.

My friends have been going on about their slow cookers forever, and this week I finally capitulated and got myself one. And I swear I may never use the hob again 😉. First day I had it I made bolognese and then on Saturday I got hold of the most enormous piece of brisket Waitrose were selling off cheap. Oscar loves watching the Buzzfeed Tasty videos at the moment (over and over!) and they occasionally have slow cooker recipes. One that really caught my eye was one with a huge piece of chuck steak. So when I got this brisket I had to try it. I halved a load of new potatoes, some carrots, placed half the brisket on top of the veg, seasoned and added Worcestershire Sauce, a splash of water and, 5 hours in, a couple of springs of rosemary and thyme. 6 hours on high and BOOM! We had the most amazing dinner. So amazing I didn’t get any pictures 😞. Anyway, the plan was to freeze the other half of the brisket and make pepperpot stew later in the week. Didn’t happen. We just had exactly the same meal on Sunday! Basically we ate half a cow this weekend! Half a delicious cow, mind. And this week I’ve already made Pork Vindaloo from the Slimming World Curry Heaven Book. I made double the amount and one half has already gone in the freezer and the rest is for dinner tonight. I’ll report back next week!

Syn free Slimming World pork vindaloo in the slow cooker!

Syn free Slimming World pork vindaloo in the slow cooker!

So other than slow cooked deliciousness, my other discovery over the past few weeks has been chicken burgers! When I wrote about how much I loved Heck sausages (they’re a freezer staple in this house and we buy them in bulk online!), the very lovely people at Heck Food sent me some of their Chicken Italia Burgers to try. Each burger is only one syn each and blow me if they aren’t blooming gorgeous! And so flipping versatile! I’ve had them as just delicious burgers with jacket potatoes and veg, but they’re fab chopped up and added to things too.

Heck Chicken Italia Burgers. In all their glory!

Heck Chicken Italia Burgers. In all their glory!

One lunch time I was planning to have burger, beans and mushrooms, you know, separately, then I decided to just mix them all together and accidentally invented a lunch time ‘Quick Casserole’. It was amazing and so filling!

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My own invention the ‘Quick Casserole’! Beans, one Heck Chicken Italia Burger and chestnut mushrooms. 1 syn for the lot!

And then another day, inspired by a picture on the IG account of @Shanonnagain58, I had a crack a Mexican style breakfast burrito. Chopped burger, with spicy scrambled egg in a BFree Wrap (1 x HEB) with a side order of mushrooms (I love mushrooms can you tell!). It made so much burrito ‘filling’ that I had trouble picking it up! Amazeballs!

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My attempt at a Heck Burger Breakfast Burrito! 1 Syn + 1 HEB for the wrap.

Who knew a burger could be so much more than just a delicious patty on a bun? I’m just off to place another massive order of sausages (seriously I think I have a bit of a problem with these sausages 😉 ) and I’m totally going to order burgers this time too!

So this week I’m feeling much more positive at my own capabilities than I have been. At least I am today (don’t you find it changes from day to day?). So lets take this a day at a time 🙂

love

Lisa

xxx

 

I honestly love these burgers. They are so delicious and at one syn each so easy to fit into the Slimming World plan. I’d like to thank Heck for gifting them to me. I was not paid to write about them and as always my opinions are my own.