A Triveting Crafty Creatives August Box

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The August Crafty Creatives box was a visual treat of beautiful bright colours. The box contained everything needed to make a stunning rolled wool trivet: different coloured recycled wool strips, a long straight needle, a curved needle, extremely strong thread, and a page of easy to follow instructions. The kit was created by Rag Art Studios exclusively for Crafty Creatives.

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I have to confess, when I opened the box it arrived in, I had a quick look and thought it would be a very easy, very fast kit to complete. I was wrong on the time part. It took me quite a few hours to make! The idea was easy enough: place different coloured strips on top of each other, roll them up tightly and sew in to place (that’s the basic idea). Obviously though you need to make sure no stitches are visible on the top, but it needs to be sewn well so that it holds together with no chance of unrolling or falling apart when you pick it up. I thought the curved needle would be brilliant for hidden stitching, but I found it quite tricky to use, so completed my trivet using just the straight needle.

I would definitely make more of these. Maybe make some colour co-ordinated ones to match the decor of my friends’ kitchens. As well as being used to protect surfaces from hot pans, they would also be great to stand vases on to protect tables from scratches, or to protect them from the hot bases of candle holders. The versatility of it means it would be a beautiful gift for anyone to receive. With Christmas coming up (sorry for dropping the C word) these would be great made in traditional festive colours to use in place of table mats. I want to also try making some using different materials for different effects. The possibilities are endless! I loved making something that was pleasing to the eye with it’s pretty swirls, but also practical. It will be well used in my house!

I had never seen trivets like this before, only metal mass produced ones. This is one of the things I love so much about craft… the fact that no to items will ever be the same. Every piece is unique. This kit would have been sent to countless other Crafty Creatives subscribers, but every single trivet made would be slightly different, and each made with love.

Crafty Creatives sends out a kit for a different craft every month. You never know what you will get, it’s all a wonderful surprise. To have a look at past kits they have sent, have a look at some others I wrote about…

 

https://confarreocreates.wordpress.com/2016/08/08/crafty-creatives-feeling-the-mosaic-love/

https://confarreocreates.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/crafty-creatives-may-subscription-box-hama-time/

https://confarreocreates.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/crafty-creatives-surprise-craft-subscription-boxes/

 

If you want to find out more about subscribing to Crafty Creatives click HERE to go to their website. Happy Crafting! 🙂

 

DISCLAIMER: I pay for my subscription and get no reward for writing about it, other than the happiness of being able to recommend something I love. All views/ideas/opinions are my own and I only write honest reviews. 

 

 

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The MAD Museum in Stratford upon Avon – A Hidden Gem!

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As a parent, I am always trying to find new places to take my 9 year old son for exciting days out. If you Google “days out” you often just find the same places over and over. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Yawn. By some miracle though, I recently found a place called The MAD Museum which is in the beautiful town of Stratford upon Avon. MAD stands for Mechanical Art and Design. My son is obsessed with mechanical things, loves art and design, so this place sounded like it would be worth a visit. And I’ll be honest, I thought if it’s not that good we can always have a lovely walk along the river instead. Well we had no time for river walks as we spent hours in this place! It is just amazing!

Don’t be fooled like I was by the museum’s location. It is above some shops (one of which is one of my favourites, Lakeland, but we didn’t get time to go in there) so I had thought it would be tiny, with just a few exhibits and we’d have seen it all in half an hour. How wrong was I! This place is jam packed with exhibits and things to do, all of which are interactive. There are buttons galore to press to activate all manner of crazy but fascinating displays.

We visited on a beautiful day in August. There were 4 of us, 2 adults and 2 children (Luke and Ava), and so we bought the family ticket which was £19. We said after that we would actually have been happy to pay more than that for the amount of pleasure we all had from the visit. Children aged 5 years and younger can visit for free, while children over that age are £4.50, concessions are £5.50, and adults are £6.80.

As soon as we walked in we were greeted by a very friendly member of staff. She asked if we had been before and when we said no, she told us to press every button we see, explore and just have fun. Luke and Ava were so excited to see what each button would start up.

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I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment by telling you what everything does, but there are things to make you laugh, things to inspire, and all of it will astound you. There is a mini “cinema” area where you can watch a series of short films about similar fascinating contraptions but on a much larger scale. There is an amazing bath clock, which Luke and Ava wanted to keep running back to every 20 minutes to see what happened at certain times.

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Another thing to keep going back to is the skeleton on the phone. We have all been stuck on hold when phoning companies. Well this poor skeleton has been on hold forever! Standing in front of him sets off a sensor so he knows you’re there, and then he calls a company. I really sympathised with him with each response the phone gives. hang around by him to hear the full cycle of responses. We loved it!

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Quite a few of the displays are marble-run type ones, and we were all fascinated to watch what happened along the way. As well as being able to watch these marble runs, you can also come up with your own at the MAD Museum. There are 2 areas… the Mini Marble Wall which is a table full of various wooden blocks which have holes and trails cut into them so you can put them together to try and see if you can get a marble to run the whole way through, and a big Marble Wall which is a magnetic wall on which you attach wooden trail pieces with magnets attached, so you can create a huge marble run!

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I don’t think I have ever known activities as fantastic as these for developing problem solving skills. Having to work out angles to put pieces at, what to do if the marble flies off an end (as it did hundreds of times while they worked it all out), what effect a bouncy trail piece has, judging bounce distances etc etc… well it was just a joy to watch! Neither of them wanted help, they were both determined to work it out for themselves. The concentration on their faces was lovely to see as they were both 100% engrossed in what they were doing. The big wall in particular was extremely popular so you might have to wait a short while before you can have a turn, but there is so much to do there it really isn’t an issue. At one point during our visit a family erupted into the loudest cheer ever as the dad had created a huge marble run completely filling the wall and the marble had successfully followed it. You’d think England had scored in the World Cup by the excited cheers! It was brilliant! Just shows how this is a place for all ages, and the sense of achievement is incredible.

Something else that tells me how wonderful this place is was the way Luke in particular behaved. Luke had speech problems as a younger child. He has only been told in the past year from speech therapists that it is no longer an issue. His inability to communicate clearly with people apart from family for so long means he now lacks confidence to wander away from my side. This is something we are working on. However, for the first time ever Luke left me so he could run off to see what else he could explore in the MAD Museum. His excitement and keenness was overwhelming and he didn’t want to be tied to wandering around at my pace. He wanted to race ahead, try something new, and rush back to tell me to hurry up and see what was around each corner. He felt safe and happy, and that was incredible. He has never done that anywhere else before (or since), so that to me is a sign of how fantastic The MAD Museum is. It will always hold a very special place in my heart.

When you walk round this museum, make sure you look around ever corner as there are displays hidden all over the place! I would advise you to set aside at least 3 hours to get full enjoyment from the MAD Museum. We were there for almost 4, and even then it was hard to drag Luke away from it! On the way out there is a small gift shop selling all manner of wooden kits and original gifts. I could have bought the lot! As soon as we had said goodbye to the lovely staff there and we had stepped outside, Luke asked when we could go back. That, to me, is the sign of a wonderful attraction… an eagerness to revisit it. We will definitely go back again very soon and I have recommended it to so many people since we went.

WHO IS IT FOR… Everyone! No age limits here. There is something here for everyone to enjoy, young and old. Plus there is wheelchair access throughout. Children under 16 must have an adult with them though.

WHERE IS IT… 4-5 Henley Street, Stratford upon Avon, CV37 6PT. Telephone 01789 269356.

WHEN CAN I GO… It is open all year round, but with various opening times. From October to March it is open every day except Wednesday, although during Warwickshire school holidays it is open every day. Opening hours during these months are 10.30am – 4.30pm on weekdays, and 10.00am -5.00pm on weekends. From April to September it is open every day. Opening hours during these months are 10.00am – 5.00pm on weekdays, and 10.30am – 5.30pm on weekends.

WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE… Visit their website HERE

If you do visit I would love to know what you think of it and what was the best part for you. There is so much to choose from!

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August Degustabox….. It’s All About the Taste

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I was very lucky with the August Degustabox. It arrived in the school holiday (obviously) which meant I could open it as soon as it arrived rather than having to wait until Luke gets home from school! Having a box of mystery food and drink goodies arrive and then not be able to open it for hours is soooooo difficult. The urge to see what is inside is just too much for my lack of willpower. I have to say, most of this month’s box was things I had never seen before so it was even more exciting to try them.

This box was packed full of strong flavours. Here’s what was in the August box…

 

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  • DORSET CEREALS BIRCHER MUESLI… I am familiar with Dorset Cereals and I love their muesli and granola. I have to admit though I had never heard of Bircher muesli so I had to Google it to see what is different. It was originally created by a Swiss doctor as a way to get his patients to eat something more nutritious, containing fruit. He had jaundice as a child and was convinced that apples had cured him of it, so used fresh apples in the original Bircher muesli. What sets it apart from normal muesli is that Bircher muesli is soaked overnight in fruit juice. This makes it so much easier to eat if you are in a rush in the morning. Sometimes it can feel like you’re chewing normal muesli forever, but Bircher muesli is lovely and creamy so easier to digest. This one comes with raisins, raspberries, blackcurrants and apple in it, and soaking them overnight made them lovely and juicy. I mixed 50g of the muesli with 70ml of apple juice as advised on the box, covered it and left it overnight to soak. The next morning I added 50g of low-fat vanilla yoghurt, mixed it together and thoroughly enjoyed it! I have a lot of friends who are actively trying to lose weight and they all keep talking about the wonders of overnight oats. Now I can see why they all love this breakfast so much! It is creamy, full of flavour, and keeps you full for hours! And it is so handy being able to make it the night before. This is a breakfast I will definitely be continuing to have. The RRP of this box is £3.49.

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  • GET MORE DRINKS…. I had never heard of this brand before but will definitely be looking out for this again! Get More are a range of spring water drinks made with natural flavours, and fortified with vitamins and minerals to give your body everything it needs to stay healthy. There are 6 to choose from…. Get More Minerals is a still cranberry and pomegranate drink which gives you extra potassium, magnesium and calcium; Get More Vitamin A is a sparkling blackcurrant and blueberry drink which gives you 50% of your RDA of vitamin A per bottle; Get More Vitamin B is a still apple and raspberry drink which gives you 100% of your RDA of vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, B7 and B12; Get More Vitamin C is a sparkling orange drink that gives you 200% of your RDA of vitamin C, perfect for boosting your immune system; Get More Vitamin D is a still mango and passionfruit drink giving you 200% of your RDA of vitamin D and 15% of your calcium RDA, ideal for the winter months when you don’t absorb so much vitamin D from the sun; and finally Get More Multivitamins which is a sparkling lemon and lime drink that gives you 100% of your RDA of all the B and C vitamins and 25% of zinc and magnesium. This is the one that I had. I absolutely loved it! It tasted like lemonade rather than spring water and was extremely refreshing and delicious. These drinks have no added sugar and are made using natural flavours. They also do a range for children called A Little More Drinks. These are Vitamin D (mango, with 100% RDA), Vitamin C (orange, with 100% RDA), and Multivitamins (apple, with 60% RDA). A definite regular future purchase for my household! The RRP is £1.45.

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  • MAHOU CINCO ESTRELLAS…. My other half Del was very happy to see a bottle of lager in the box. This is a premium Spanish lager, first produced in 1891, and is now Spain’s number one beer brand. Del had enjoyed this lager before while on holiday so was keen to get it in the fridge quickly to chill it to perfect drinking temperature! I used to have a day job and an evening/weekend job, and my evening job was as a barmaid. I learnt what a perfect drink should look like (colour, depth of the head, how clear it should be etc) and this lager ticked all the boxes. Del said it was smooth with a perfect flavour, with an alcoholic volume of 5.5%.  The RRP is £1.20.

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  • FENTIMANS SPARKLING LIME AND JASMINE… I love Fentimans Drinks but had never seen this flavour before, so was really excited to try it. I love the little bottles these drinks come in. Everything about them says quality. I have to say though I personally wasn’t a huge fan of this flavour to begin with. It was absolutely jam-packed with lime which was so bitter it made my eyes water. After it had gone down though the aftertaste was really refreshing. I drank some more and Del laughed at the faces I pulled as I drank it, as the bitterness really is sharp! I gave the rest of it to him to finish, and after an initial eye twitch he gulped it down and thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the aftertaste but my tastebuds found the acidity too much as I drank it. I think most people would really enjoy it though and I know lots of people love sour/bitter products. The RRP is £1.20.

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  • TABASCO SWEET AND STICKY BARBECUE SAUCE AND MARINADE… This little beauty was my personal favourite product this month. The bottle suggests trying it on chicken wings or pizza. I usually only use barbecue sauce for pulled pork or ribs, but this time I tried something slightly different but extremely simple. I put 4 chicken breasts in an ovenproof dish and poured the contents of the bottle over them. I mixed them to make sure they were completely coated, put the lid on the dish and then left them to marinate for an hour. I cooked them in the oven at 170C for 30 minutes, then removed the lid, basted with the sauce and cooked for a further 15 minutes. I served them with a salad and spicy potato wedges and poured the leftover sauce over them. Stupidly I forgot to take a photo, but this was absolutely delicious. There was one chicken breast left over which I was going to slice up cold for a wrap for lunch next day, but Del enjoyed the meal so much he ate that one too!! This sauce is just perfect. It is mild but does have a very slight kick to it, which was fab! It is lovely and sweet and so full of flavour. I will definitely be buying this again! In fact Del said he could eat that chicken every day! I’m looking forward to getting more to try it in different ways too though. The RRP is £1.99.

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  • CLIPPER LIME AND GINGER GREEN TEA… I love everything about Clipper tea. The eye-catching packaging, the unbleached tea bags, the way they are foil-wrapped for freshness, the range of flavours, and the fact they are Fairtrade. I had never tried this flavour before though. I am conscious that I drink too much coffee so this was the perfect chance to try a new tea that would give me the energy boost I usually get from my caffeine fix. The instructions on the box said boil the water and let it pour over the tea bag while it is still boiling, then leave to brew for a few minutes. My kettle is one that lets you boil water at the perfect temperature for each type of hot drink, and the green tea setting is 80C, so that is what I did. I loved this tea! The flavours of lime and ginger were perfect, not too strong yet not too subtle, and I instantly felt refreshed and ready for the day. I will try more of the flavours that Clipper produce now too, as this was so good. The RRP is £1.59.

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  • NUTRIPOT…. I received 2 different pots to try, Moroccan Couscous, and Aromatic Thai Noodles. I didn’t try the noodles one as it contained mushrooms and I hate those with a passion! So Del had the noodles and I had the couscous. We both said they were very tasty, with lovely strong flavours. Apparently the noodles had a bit of a kick to them but not too much. These are ideal for people with little time to prepare lunch. Just add boiling water, stir and enjoy. What sets these apart from other dried noodle types of pots is the fact these contain 50% of all of the 28 vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy. They contain no artificial nasties, no added sugar and are low in saturated fat. The RRP is £2.49 per pot.

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  • CAPSICANA CHILLI AND HONEY MEXICAN COOK SAUCE… I love Mexican food so was excited to see this sauce. Capsicana make a range of Latin American inspired flavoured sauces. You can also get Chilli and Garlic Mexican, Chilli and Lemon Peruvian, or Chilli and Coconut Brazilian. This chilli and honey one was gorgeous! I followed the recipe suggestion on the back of the packet, adding it to chopped onion, sliced green pepper and chicken strips, and then served it with tortillas and melted cheese. It has a slight kick to it but it is still mild. the flavours were just amazing. I will definitely buy this again too. It is perfect for people who don’t have hours to spare on cooking, as it only takes 20 minutes maximum, yet produces a really delicious satisfying meal. The RRP is £1.99.

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  • RAKUSENS SNACKERS… I received two packets of these mini crackers, one was plain and one was gluten-free. They looked really cute, with lovely little shapes, and they tasted just as you would expect a cracker to taste. We ate them with a range of different toppings including cream cheese and houmous, and we all enjoyed them. The gluten-free ones tasted no different to the plain, which was great. Each cracker has just 7 calories in, so you don’t need to feel guilty having a snack of a few of these. The RRP of the plain ones is £1.29 and the gluten-free are £1.49.

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  • GEETA’S…. I received 3 products from this brand, Tikka Curry Paste, Rogan Josh Curry Paste, and Premium Mango Chutney. Geeta’s is a well-known brand and I have tried these before. I always buy this mango chutney so I knew exactly what to expect with these. The curry pastes contain the perfect amount of spiciness and flavour, and are so easy to use, producing delicious curries very quickly. Del likes hot curries, so I just add a few extra spices for him. The mango chutney is lovely to use as a dip, and I use it when I make Coronation Chicken. The RRP of the pastes is £1 each, and the mango chutney is £1.39.

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  • OLOVES… I received a pack of Chili and Oregano natural green pitted olives. Unfortunately I can’t really comment on these as I detest olives. I gave them to a friend who adores them though and she said these were amazing. She loves them as a snack and she said she will definitely be buying these in the future. She said the flavours were beautiful. The RRP is £1 per pack.

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  • WILLY CHASE’S FIT CORN… The final item this month was this popcorn. I received the Salted Honey flavour which was absolutely scrumptious. You can also get Goats Cheese, Red Onion and Thyme, or Nearly Naked, or Chase Smoke Bloody Mary flavours. I’m glad I had the salted honey as it appeals to me most from this range. The blend of sweet and salty was perfect and the popcorn itself was beautifully light. They use honey from the bees in their own apple orchards and all other ingredients are locally sourced. I loved this and could easily have eaten the whole packet it one go, but luckily Luke helped me out by eating a huge amount too 🙂 The RRP is £2.19.

I really loved this month’s box. One of the biggest pleasures is trying new foods and drink, and Degustabox gives you lots of opportunities to do that. You can choose to not receive any alcohol if you prefer, and they will substitute it for another product. The normal price of this fantastic subscription box is £12.99 per month, and that price includes delivery via DPD. It really is incredible value for money, with the overall cost of the items you receive being worth around double the price you pay!

Just to show you how fantastic Degustabox is though, they are very kindly letting new subscribers try their first box for less than half price for just £5.99 including delivery! That’s a whopping saving of £7!

To get this wonderful offer, just go to their website HERE and enter the code BLDEG15 at the checkout, then sit back and wait for your first surprise box of yumminess to arrive. Enjoy!

Bakedin Baking Club…. Featuring Exclusive Recipes from Michel Roux!

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August traditionally sees the start of a new series of The Great British Bake Off, and people up and down the country go baking bonkers! Everyone gets inspired to try their hand at new things, and everyone wants to be able to bake like the experts we all look up to.

One such expert we aspire to follow is the wonderful Michel Roux, known and loved worldwide as a top pastry chef and the godfather of modern cuisine.

Bakedin Baking Club is a monthly baking subscription box which sends you all the dry ingredients you need to recreate a beautiful recipe which has been exclusively developed for them by Michel Roux. Everything arrives neatly packed in a box that fits through your letterbox, and each ingredient is weighed out exactly for you and clearly labelled so there is no chance of getting it wrong. As well as the dry ingredients, you receive a very detailed recipe card which contains photographs of each stage, serving guide, and a list of any extra ingredients you will need (which only amounts to a couple of things usually), and you also receive extra bits and pieces like baking paper and skewers to check your cake is ready. They think of everything for you! August’s recipe was white chocolate and cranberry squares, so this picture shows what was included:

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It came with the detailed recipe card, caster sugar, flour, baking powder, white chocolate, cranberries, icing sugar, pistachios, a butter measure, baking paper, and a cake test skewer. Each recipe card also features a top tip from Michel Roux to go with his recipe, often a little extra way of enhancing the recipe even more. I love the fact you have the exact amount of ingredients that you need. No need to worry about how to use up the rest of a bag of an ingredient you don’t tend to use much!

I bake a lot at home but so far, each kit I have had has been for something I’ve never made before, which has been fantastic. The first one was THESE WHOOPIE PIES, and the next one was a scrumptious malt chocolate cake (picture at the end of this post). I can honestly say though that I will be making all of these recipes again as they were so delicious. August’s recipe was the lightest fluffiest cake with the most beautiful flavour. It was a massive hit in my house and disappeared very quickly! These kits aren’t the same as using a packet mix, where you just add water or egg to one powder mix. These kits are still baking from scratch, the only difference being that most of the ingredients have been weighed for you, like having your very own kitchen assistant. You still have the huge sense of achievement when you complete the bake, and anybody can do it and get fantastic results!

The fact that everything is labelled so clearly and the recipe has photographs of each stage makes these kits ideal to do with children. My 9 year old son looks forward to this box arriving just as much as I do! We love the surprise factor too, not knowing what yummy bake is lined up for us until we open the box.

So, who is this subscription box suitable for? I would recommend it to everyone! Parents wanting to spend quality time baking with their children, baking novices looking to learn some new skills and recipes, skilled bakers looking to further their recipe repertoire, and you can even buy a subscription as a gift for someone else. I love baking and have already learnt a lot from these kits. The way they tell you to melt chocolate in these recipes is brilliant! I’m not going to give that tip away on here, but it really does save a lot of mess and washing up and makes the potential of ruining the chocolate impossible, unlike other methods people use.

The Bakedin Baking Club costs just £7.99 a month, including delivery. That is an amazing price considering how much you get, including Michel Roux’s expertise!

If you would like to try it for yourself click  HERE  and you will receive your first box for the unbelievable price of just £1.99!!!! A huge £6 discount! That really is an offer too good to turn down. If you decide it’s not for you after trying it (highly unlikely though) you can cancel at any time, so you have nothing to lose. Happy baking! 🙂

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DISCLAIMER: I pay full price for my subscription and have not been asked to write a review. I truly love this Baking Club though and I believe in sharing information about companies/products/services I enjoy. Sharing is caring after all! All opinions expressed are my own. The link provided is part of Bakedin’s Referral programme, which anyone can take part in when they join too.