Sunday, July 28, 2013

CALL-OUT: September Mega Review & Giveaway

Hi fellow business owners,

After the success last year of our Mega Review & Giveaway which was run in September, we are doing it again this year!!

There is already heaps of fabulous brands and businesses taking part, this is a final call-out for anyone else that would like to take part.

So, what's involved? I will be writing a short review on each relevant product, and the same product will be offered as part of the giveaway. The idea is that the more products are involved in the giveaway, the more popular it will be.

What will I offer in return for your generosity in taking part? First of all, you will be providing me with some of your keywords, which I will link to your site, which is great for your SEO (and much cheaper than paying someone to improve your SEO ranking!). It will also be a condition of entry to 'like' each businesses facebook page, so you will also build your facebook likers by taking part. The only condition is that I won't accept items in direct competition with my store, and the products need to be family friendly things the readers of this blog will be interested in.  There is also one difference to last year, and that is that the giveaway this year will run for one whole month rather than 2 weeks.

If you would like to be involved, you will need to provide your full-size product (no vouchers) for review in the next week or two, and be able to offer the same item for the winner once winners are drawn. The giveaway will be open only to Australian residents. There is no fee to take part (apart from the provision of product for review).

If you think you might be interested drop me a line with your details and we will go from there! Thanks for your interest! Monique

Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: Vanish Laundry Products

Being a Mum, one of the biggest things that consumes our time is doing the washing for the family.  And the more kids you have, the more washing you do.  With 5 people in the house (and 1 dog) I do 2-3 loads a day just to keep on top of the piles in my laundry!

Having a busy and active family also means having to get stains of all sorts out of clothing.  From grass stains to red wine stains to chocolate and yes, as a Mum, we need to deal with lovely things like vomit as well.  It never ends really!

Thank goodness in this day and age we have access to some pretty effective laundry products that target a range of stains on clothing! I have been using one called Vanish lately (in the groovy pink packaging) and thought I would show some results of a couple of clothes that I needed to remove some sweat stains from.  Living in a hot climate like Queensland does mean sweat stains can be an issue sometimes on all of our clothing.  Sweat stains can be a bit of a pain really, because they can be caused from either the sweat itself, or from your deodorant if the stain is under the arm.  Vanish targets both sweat and deodorant, which is great because you can treat the stain without worrying if you are treating the fabric in the right way.

Vanish recommends using Vanish Napisan Oxi Action Powder for sweat stains. The instructions are as follows:

Soaking is recommended in this case - dissolve 1/2 a scoop of Vanish Napisan Oxi Action Powder in 7L of warm water (max 40°C) and soak the stained item for a minimum of 2 hours. Then wash as usual with your detergent. Important: Always follow the usage instructions on the Vanish packaging. Do not use on wool, silk or leather. Do not soak metal buttons and zippers.

First up is my sons school shirt - it gets really bad sweat stains around the collar.  Here is a before shot:

And after treatment the shirt looks great!  Brighter color, and the neck is totally clean:

Next up is one of my shirts, which has developed long-term deodorant stains under the arm.... I wonder if the Vanish will help?  Here is a before shot:

And after treatment the stain is a little better but not totally gone, it may need repeated soakings to really shift the ingrained deodorant:

As you can see, Vanish really does help get rid of the stains.  Why don't you give it a go?  And don't forget to head over to the Vanish website to see the specific treatment required for the stain, as different stains do require different treatments.

Disclaimer: I was sent a pack of Vanish products to try myself.  No fee was received for this post and any opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, July 22, 2013

5 Foods you can Freeze

In the busyness of life it is nice to have some little short-cuts to save both time and money in the kitchen.  One of the best ways to do this is to use your freezer to great advantage.  A while ago I posted on my facebook page a tip to cook double the amount of rice you need and then freeze half to use another time.  I was surprised at the number of Mums that had never heard of this and weren't sure if the rice would turn out ok once defrosted.  That got me thinking about some of the 'strange' things I freeze that work well for me.

  1. Cooked Rice - When I need to cook rice, I always cook double or triple the amount I need, then immediately freeze the extra in 'freezer to microwave' containers to use another time.  I cannot even tell the difference between re-heated frozen rice and freshly cooked rice, and its a god-send when I'm busy or tired to pull out rice from the freezer and either a frozen casserole or pop something easy in the oven like store-made enchiladas.  If you have a little left over from your meal, don't throw it out, use it the next night to make a rice pudding.
  2. Grated Cheese - I used to be lazy and buy the expensive ready grated cheese from the supermarket.  But now what I do is buy a couple of big blocks when they are on special, then set up my food processor with the grater on and grate it all, then divide it up into freezer bags.  Pop in the freezer, and you have a big supply of grated cheese to use!  I also got put off buying grated cheese for 2 reasons - quite often it was mouldy and I had to chuck it out, and they put some sort of coating on the cheese which I feel really suss about, it seems like some strange chemical to stop it sticking together.
  3. Tomatoes - If you see tomatoes on special, buy a big bag and put them in the freezer.  Do not peel and do not blanch.  To use, just run warm water on the frozen tomato and the skin will come off easily, then use in stews, casseroles, or to make sauce (you can't use tomatoes that have been frozen on sandwiches or in salads).
  4. Nuts - I quite often have to throw away nuts I have in the cupboard because they do go rancid after a while.  So freeze any nuts or ground nuts to prolong life and prevent wasteage.
  5. Bread and Bakery Products - I'm a bad one for putting off grocery shopping so I always try to buy 2 loaves of bread and put one in the freezer (I double wrap).  That way I'm not short on bread for school lunches if I can help it.  You can also freeze baked goods, which saves wastage as they go off quickly sometimes.

Rule of thumb to keep in mind is don't re-freeze anything that has already been frozen, and keep a supply of different sizes of freezer bags on hand!

There are some areas I definitely need to explore further with the freezer, one main one being making sandwiches for school lunches in batches and freezing until the day you need them.  If any of you do this I would love to hear your tips for doing it successfully!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: Bertolli Olive Oil (+ Aioli Recipe)

I have learnt something new lately!  In all the years I have been cooking I have just picked up the handiest bottle of Olive Oil on the supermarket shelf to cook with.  But guess what... I have been doing it wrong all this time!  I'm serious.... you are supposed to use different Olive Oils for different applications.  So, with a little help from Bertolli Olive Oil, let me tell you all about it.

There are basically 3 main types of olive oil you can buy when shopping, and the difference between them lies in the way they are processed after harvesting - Extra Virgin (cold-pressed after harvesting), Extra Light, and Classico (which are both processed further which makes them suitable for heating).

I have been using the 3 different types of Olive Oil in my kitchen for the past few weeks, and these are the uses I have been putting them to:

Classico Olive Oil

This type of olive oil is best for barbequing and roasting.  Brush you steak with this one before popping on the BBQ, or as you can see below, throw a roast in the oven along with your veg (a true one pot dinner!), rub all over with Classico, and you have a delicious dinner.  To make it even better, serve with Aioli (see below) for a dish that will impress everyone from your children to your guests.

Extra Light Olive Oil

Extra Light is best for baking and frying.  I bake a lot of recipes with Olive Oil (its SO much better for you than butter), the main ones being Muesli Slice and Zucchini Slice.  For your cooking to turn out perfectly, its a really good idea to use the RIGHT olive oil, so I will always be keeping the Extra Light Oil in my cupboard from now on to bake with. 

Extra Virgin Olive 

Extra Virgin is best for cold uses, and so is great for salads, pasta sauces and dips.  This is the oil you use if you want to put together a delicious anti-pasto plate, to make garlic bread, or to use to dip bread in olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar.

I personally am addicted at the moment to Garlic Aioli (yes I put it on everything from chicken to vegies to steak, and no, I'm not on a diet at the moment).  As with everything, homemade is much better than store bought so I thought I'd share a very easy recipe with you for Aioli.


2 egg yolks
2-4 cloves of garlic, crushed (to taste)
4 t lemon juice
1 cup Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

In a bowl or mixer, combine egg yolks, garlic and half of the lemon juice.  Whisk or blend until creamy.  Slowly add the olive oil in a continuous stream.  The aioli will thicken as you do this.  Finally, add the last of the lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste.  YUM!

Be sure to pop over and like the Bertolli Facebook page to keep up with all their news, and why not enter their competition while you are there!

Disclaimer: I was sent a pack of the 3 different Bertolli Olive Oils to try out.  No payment was received for this post and any opinions expressed are my own.