Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Cathedral City Cheese Taste Test...

I was recently asked if I would like to carry out a Cathedral City cheese taste test. As a big lover of cheese I was thrilled to be able to take part. It wasn't so much a requirement, but I had the option to re-create a Cathedral City recipe aswell, from their website. I am also a huge fan of cooking from fresh at home, so I was also keen to do this.

                          Mature cheese.                                      Mature lighter cheese.

I was provided with a £10 voucher for Waitrose in which I was required to buy a mature cheese and a lighter cheese from the Cathedral City cheese range. I chose to get the mature...yet mellow cheddar and the mature...yet mellow lighter cheddar. I am a huge fan of mature cheese, the stronger the better in my eyes. In all honesty, I don't tend to buy mild or lighter cheeses just because of the assumption that it won't taste as strong and to me, mild cheese, that tastes like nothing, isn't worth eating. I kind of feel the same about lighter cheeses as there are definitely cheeses out there that I feel are great when they are mature but try the lighter version and the taste is significantly different.

                                    Mature cheese.                    Mature lighter cheese.

I was excited and interested in carrying out this taste test as I thought there would be a significant difference in the taste. Each pack was 200g, but I cut a bit from the slab of "mature" cheddar and picked out a pinch of the "mature lighter" cheddar. At the time of purchase the slab of "mature" cheddar cost £2.17 and the grated "mature lighter" cheddar cost £2.23. So, for a product with less fat in, it is a couple of pence more. Both cheeses are suitable for vegetarians and are made only with milk from British farms. The fat content in the "mature" cheddar is 34.9g and in the "mature lighter" cheddar it is 21.3g, which is 30% less fat than the "mature" cheddar for just a couple of pence more.

Here are the results of my taste test:

Cathedral City mature...yet mellow cheddar: The taste from this cheese is amazingly strong, just my cup of tea. The taste hits you straight away eating it straight from the packet. It really gets your taste buds! It has a really creamy taste and the cheese kind of melts in the mouth. I love this cheese. This is one we buy regularly in our household, I love it. It has such a deep flavour that will come through when you mix it with other ingredients in a meal. Although this is a mature...yet mellow variety, it sure doesn't lack in taste what-so-ever!

Cathedral City mature...yet mellow lighter cheddar: When tasting this cheese, I was pleasantly surprised because the matureness of the cheese still came through quite a lot! The flavour/taste didn't lack at all, so for 30% less fat, you aren't being deprived of flavour, which I was surprised but pleased about because this is something I can now look to buying regularly in the future. There is a subtle difference and I couldn't put my finger on it or the word to describe it. All I could think of was that it had a certain lightness to it, which is a pretty lame way to describe it as it's a "lighter" cheddar, ha! If you know how these cheeses taste or do a taste test yourself, you will know what I mean. It's probably to do with the ingredients, but it feels a lot lighter on the tongue and more airy. However, there is no major difference and for once with a food item, you won't be missing out on anything by getting the lighter version.

In all honesty I would probably promote the lighter version more for the simple fact that it is more healthier, but doesn't lack in flavour or taste. It is a few pennies more, but there are often deals and offers on these days in supermarkets and you never know, it might be cheaper than the full fat version at times. Bonus!

Like I said above, I carried out one of the recipes from the Cathedral City website. I made my own Cheese and Leek croquettes and you can see my video on how I made them below:

As stated above, I bought my cheese from Waitrose, but they are available at the majority of other supermarkets.

Have you ever tasted this brand of cheese? If so, what are your thoughts?

Do you find that there is often a difference between full fat and lighter food products?

Much Love,
Gem XxOo

Friday, 25 May 2012

New York Soup Company Skinny Soup at Tesco...

Picture courtesy of Tesco.

As of the 21st of May 2012, Tesco had a new range of soup available in their stores. Skinny soups are from the New York Soup Company and are made from scratch using only the best quality ingredients. There are no hidden additives, no nasties, just loads of goodness! They are only 123 calories per serving, so make a quick, healthy, lunch, snack or starter.

I absolutely love soup, especially home-made ones. I am always making my own soup at home. I was excited to try these as they are made from the best ingredients and don't have any nasties added to them...definitely my kind of soup! There are three flavours in the range: Route 66 Red Pepper, Chunky Chicken Minestrone and New England Butternut Squash. They are £2.10 each and are all 600g.

I had the opportunity to try these soups out, so here are my thoughts:

Route 66 Red Pepper: Upon tasting this soup, I got a real tomato and pepper taste and it was a strong, vibrant taste, that was flavoursome enough to get fulfilment from it, considering it is a 'skinny' soup. It does have a tang to it, but it's a nice tang, it's not going to blow your head off or anything. I wouldn't go as far as to say this soup is spicy, but it has a subtle warmth to it. I also noticed that the soup is thick and not watery. This soup is made using sweet peppers, harvested from California's bumper crop plus a pinch of cayenne pepper (which describes the warmth I got from the soup). I loved the flavour of this soup and from the three soups this is my second favourite.

New England Butternut Squash: This soup definitely had a vegetable soup vibe/taste with a hint of sweetness. I didn't find it to be the most flavoursome soup of the three, it is definitely a gentle, mellow soup, but it did have whole peppercorns in it, so when you took a bite into one of those it released a burst of flavour. I did think that it might be better for the pepper to be ground and mixed into the soup, I thought this might give off a better all round taste. It was really fulfilling though, even without bread. All of these soups are to be honest. This soup consists of slowly cooked butternut squash, potatoes and haricot beans, blended with a splash of cream. From the three soups this is my least favourite.

Chunky Chicken Minestrone: "Don't judge a book by it's cover", was definitely something I should have taken into consideration when it comes to this soup. In general, I am not a fan of soups that have bits in, I prefer smooth soups. So when I first saw this soup, I thought I wasn't going to be a fan of it, as it does have a fair few bits in it. Shock, horror...this has actually turned out to be my favourite soup of the three! This soup is full of chunky vegetables, pasta, cannellini beans plus whole pieces of chicken. Fragrant rosemary and sage are also added. This soup is so wholesome and filling that it's hard to believe it's a 'skinny' soup. It has a deep, vegetable flavour that is really morish and is more of a stewy broth, than a soup. If you aren't a fan of 'lumpy' soups, I would say take a chance with this one and try it, you may be surprised. I know I certainly was!

Pop down to your local Tesco to see these soups and try them out for yourself :-).

If you try them, let me know what you think. I'd love to swap and compare thoughts!

Much Love,
Gem XxOo

Disclaimer: PR sample. Please see my disclaimer tab.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee 2012...

As you are all probably aware by now, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee is fast approaching. I know of most celebrations taking place around an extended weekend at the beginning of June (2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th). Some people like to go all out for things like this and hold street parties, house parties etc. Me or us as a family aren't having anything like that, unless something comes up, but we will probably watch some of the celebrations on TV and might even raise a glass or two, he, he.

I have been sent quite a few emails and press releases with items that you can buy to help you celebrate the Jubilee in some way or another. I have also found quite a few items myself, just casually searching the net. You'll be surprised what people think of to sell at times like this, but hey, if there's money to be made...

I thought I would share a few of my favourite items that I found, just in case you are looking for something to buy to help you celebrate at a party, at home, or simply want to purchase something that you can look back at in the future and remember buying such item for this occasion.


Picture courtesy of Find Me A Gift.

If you are going all out and want to make yourself up to be ready for a Jubilee celebration, then this is a great little item to make you stand out from the crowd. It's called a Union Jack Lip Tattoo and it's really inexpensive at £2.99 for one tattoo. I have worn lip tattoos similar to this before and you will be surprised as to how long they actually last. You can eat and drink and it will stay on. It is easily removable at the end of the day with a baby wipe :-).

Picture courtesy of Feel Unique.

I don't personally use nail wraps for the simple reason that I can't seem to get them right on my nails and it always looks silly. So, I thought I would include these for those of you that like nail wraps. However, I did create this look last year for Kate and Will's wedding and I just used regular nail polish. I may try to re-create it again this year but I am going to have to get a white nail polish as my last one has run out. I just wanted to express that it can be done both ways; with nail polish for the more artistic amongst you and nail wraps for those that don't feel they can do nail art or need something quick and easy. The nail wraps have a lot of advantages: they require no drying time, they don't chip and they are easy to remove. With nail polish you have to be patient and steady handed to do the nail art, you have to wait for each colour section to dry before you do the next, there is a possibility of the design chipping and then you have to have nail polish remover to get it off. The option is yours :-). These are £7.99.


Picture courtesy of Sainsbury's.

I thought this earring trio was soo cute and perfect for the occasion. I am loving the heart and crown ones the most! They are £3.50 from TU at Sainsbury's. If you have a local Sainsbury's that sells clothes and jewellery, head down there and you should be able to find these :-).

Picture courtesy of Not On The High Street.

As soon as I saw these bracelets I fell in love with them. They are Limited Edition Jubilee bracelets and priced at £24.95. They are so my style and I adore them! I say 'them', because you can choose from different fabrics and different charms. You can even have more than one charm for a little extra. In regards to the charms, you can choose from the Queen's crown, the Queen's carriage or the iconic double-decker bus. Simply gorgeous!


Picture courtesy of Noo Noo Design. Picture courtesy of Snugglebox.

The above two decorations are ones that have taken my fancy from the huge amount of decorations there are out there for the occasion. These are ones that I would choose if I were having a party to celebrate the Jubilee. I love the style and simpleness of the bunting. For 3 metres of this it is £12.50. I am a huge lover of cushions anyway and have a few different ones on my bed just for decoration. The above cushion is one I could see fitting nicely among my collection he, he. I was thinking it might also be nice if you are having a garden party and have the budget to buy a few of these and scatter them amongst the chairs you have for guests to sit on :-). I thought it might add a nice touch. They are £15 each.

Food and Drink:

Pictures courtesy of Find Me A Gift.

If you're not having a party or celebration as such but still want to feel involved, I think these Royal Family Tea Bags are ideal to have a lovely cuppa whilst watching the celebrations on TV :-). I'm a sucker for cute, unique things like this. They come in a pack of five for £6.99 and are a classic tea blend with Assam.

Picture courtesy of Sourz.

If you're over 18 and drink alcohol then this might be something you'd want to buy at any time, let alone to celebrate the Jubilee, he, he. Sourz have bought out a Limited Edition flavour to coincide with the Jubilee and London Olympics...Spirited Summer Berry! Yum! Aswell as drinking this as a shot, you can also make cocktails out of it, see here for some recipes :-). I know in Asda it is £9 at the moment, but it is available at the majority of large supermarkets, where the price usually differs in each one.

All of the major supermarkets seem to have offers on aswell for the Jubilee, so if you are having a party or a get together with food, you should be able to get some good offers from your local supermarket :-). I know Morrisons have an offer on where you can get 12 burgers, 24 sausages, 36 white baps and a bottle of ketchup all for £10. I know this as it's my local supermarket. They also have other party food ideas and Union Jack printed plates, cups, napkins and bunting for really reasonable pricesCo-opM&SSainsbury'sTesco and Waitrose all have offers on to name a few supermarkets. However, I am sure all supermarkets are going to try and get in on the act, so I'm sure you'll find some good bargains whichever supermarket you go to :-).

I hope you like my favourite Jubilee celebration ideas and there's just one last thing to say...let's hope it's gorgeous weather and happy celebrating!

Much Love,
Gem XxOo

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Next Newcomer Blog Award!

Picture courtesy of Cosmopolitan.

The 2012 Cosmopolitan Blog Award nominations are now up and running and this is the first year that I will be entering my blog :-). I started my blog in June 2011 and I have entered it into the "Next Newcomer" category.

I love having somewhere I can write about things that I love and things that I don't. Somewhere I can review and feature things, providing you with honest opinions and essential information. I like the idea of helping you, when you are searching for something in Google and one of my posts comes up which could potentially be the reason why one of you buys something or not. I like being here for people to ask questions about anything featured on my blog and I always put a lot of effort into any blog post that I do. I have started to concentrate a lot more on my blog recently. It is a lot easier to pop my laptop out and write and upload straight away, rather than film a video and having to edit and save it before I can even upload it. I'm loving blogging!

I wanted to take this opportunity to ask you lovelies if you would be so kind as to nominate me in the "Next Newcomer" category, just click here. It would mean the world to me for my blog to be acknowledged and for every one of you that nominates me, I can't thank you enough. It really does mean more than you might think :-).

Thanks so much for all your support!

Much Love,
Gem XxOo

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Razorpit - Sharpen Your Razor Blades...

Pictures courtesy of Bunker Bound.

Razorpit is a recycled rubber sharpener that will clean and sharpen over 95% of razor blades and will make your razor work for up to 150 shaves, helping you buy up to 90% fewer razor blades. It comes in pink and black and is priced at £19.99.

When I was offered the chance to try out this product, I was genuinely interested because I know how expensive it can be to keep buying replacement razor blades. Especially when you have a razor where you just have to repurchase the blades, rather than the whole a Gillette or Wilkinson Sword one. Me and my FiancĂ© both have one of these razors so I was really excited to try it out and see if it works.

I love little gadgets that just make life easier, so as soon as I received this I went to try it out (following the instructions). The product has just three instruction points to follow. These being:

  • To sharpen/clean, lubricate the flat area on the Razorpit with liquid soap or shaving cream.
  • Press down firmly and push the razor forward along the surface (opposite to the direction you shave) four to five times.
  • Rinse both the razor blade and Razorpit under warm water.


Well, I tested the product out on a Gillette Fusion razor blade. The blade I was trying to sharpen is literally on it's last legs. It needs to be replaced, but it still does it's job and I'm just trying to get as much use out of the blade as I can because as previously stated...they are expensive! However, I'm not really a fan of disposable razors, I always end up cutting my legs with them whilst shaving and I hate it, so the long lasting shavers are definitely better in my opinion. They just need to make the replacement blades cheaper! Ha...I can wish. Anyway, I think I thought that when I sharpened this blade it was going to become like a brand new one again: gleaming, shiny and new. In my opinion, it didn't feel any different, but like I said it was on it's last legs. I'm not going to lie I was slightly disappointed but I didn't want to give up all hope of this product working and so I decided to get someone else's opinion...

I explained the concept of the product to my FiancĂ© and asked him to try it out on another razor blade. He decided to try and sharpen a disposable razor just before he had a shave. He told me that the razor was one he had used before and it still had some dried cream/hair on it (ew!), but he said when he sharpened it using the Razorpit, it felt like he was using a brand new one! I was pleasantly surprised when he told me this because I think in general this is a real money saver.

So, I came to the conclusion that if you are going to buy this product in the hope of sharpening all your blades that are literally on their last legs, then it's not going to work and I wouldn't want you to get your hopes up like I did. However, if you have a newish blade for a long lasting shaver or have newish disposable razors, then this product will definitely save you money and provide you with more shaves. If you keep on top of sharpening your blades, maybe after every use or once a week, you should definitely get your money's worth!

Do any of you lovelies have anything like this?

Much Love,
Gem XxOo

Disclaimer: PR sample. Please see my disclaimer tab.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Birds Of A Feather...On Stage!

Picture courtesy of birdsontour.

I'm 25 and my sister is 22 and we both have a memory from when we were younger of us watching 'Birds Of A Feather'. We loved the show and it was on throughout the 90's, so we kind of grew up with it. It isn't on these days, not that I know of anyway, unless we just don't have the channel it's repeated on, but I do have series 1 on DVD and I'm yet to get the others.

So, when I heard that the programme was going to be touring, with the three main actresses playing their original three main parts, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited! As soon as I told my sister, she was also equally excited ha!

If you're not familiar with the show, it ran on BBC1 for nearly ten years throughout the 1990's. It's a classic comedy and a female-centred long running series. The three main characters are Sharon (Pauline Quirke) and Tracey (Linda Robson) who are Essex sisters and their man-eating neighbour Dorien (Lesley Joseph). For those that want more in-depth information on the programme, you can find more info on Wikipedia.

The tour came to my home town recently, so me and my sister really wanted to go (of course!). We managed to get a really good deal to be honest. The theatre is called 'The Grand Theatre' and the one near us has a special deal on for those that are 16-25 years old, where if you go 15 mins before the show starts, if they have 'stand-by' tickets, you can purchase them for £5. The seats are the best available, but all the dates for the show in my city were pretty much fully booked, so we ended up right at the top in the grand circle, about 3 rows from the back! It was better than nothing though and to be honest we had a pretty good view for £5, so we were really pleased. Our mum came with us, but as she is over 25, she had to pay normal price, which ended up being £19.50.

The show was fantastic! It started by showing the original titles from the show with the different pictures of Sharon and Tracey when they were kids to when they were growing up and the nostalgic theme tune of 'What'll I do'.

''What'll I do
When you are far away
And I am blue
What'll I do?''


In the stage show Sharon is unemployed, Tracey is a cold caller (or she is at the beginning of the show anyway) and Dorien is the owner of a residential home. I don't want to give too much away in case you are reading this and have booked tickets to see it. You won't be disappointed though and it will take you back for sure. Just look out for the karaoke scene with Sharon and Tracey in the residential home, definitely a laugh out loud moment for me :-).

It lasts for about a couple of hours, but it flies by. We got drawn in by the characters as they are now and then little things triggered the memory to how they were all those years ago. If you like the show and watched it when it was on, I would definitely recommend going to see the stage show. If you have never heard of 'Birds Of A Feather', then it might not have the same effect if you aren't familiar with the characters, so anything they do now won't really mean anything to you. It is still a comedy all the same and the story in the stage show is a new one, so you will still be able to follow it, but little things they mention you might not be sure why they are mentioning it, if you get my drift.

I'm so glad it came to the stage and over the moon that I got to see it :-).

They are touring until July 2012, so you can still purchase tickets.

If you have seen the stage show, what did you think?

If you are yet to see it, but have bought or are going to buy tickets, let me know what you think of it :-).

Much Love,
Gem XxOo
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