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A Few Of My Favourite Things

The hubby and I have been in America for over six weeks now and I’m slowly becoming accustomed to my new home. To be honest we’ve both been busy with all the usual hectic stuff that goes with a move abroad i.e. renting a flat; buying a car; settling into a new job; getting to know people; finding the best place to get a take away curry etc. etc.

I’m very excited about coming to America and all the opportunities it presents. From the time I was a teenager, I had a feeling that I’d one day end up living abroad. And now I’ve done just that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get homesick and miss England and everyone and everything in it terribly because I do. So I always take comfort in anything that reminds me of home… and some of these things even have a connection to my childhood!

BOOT’S PRODUCTS

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I remember when I was last in Oregon a few years back, Target had started stocking  up Boot’s products which I was very excited about. And I’d totally forgotten about it until we went into our local Target last week and found a small section of the store – and I do mean small – dedicated to Boot’s cosmetics and skin care products. That really did cheer me up – to see a little piece of home.

I’m not familiar with many of the brands available in the States although I will inevitably get round to trying them out – but right now its great to see a brand I know and trust.

JELLY

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Or jello as its called over here. OK, I know – jelly is such a kid’s dessert. No one with a sophisticated palate would even consider a bowlful of the wibbly-wobbly stuff and most adults will probably only touch it if you add alcohol and serve them up in little plastic shot glasses at parties.

But then I’ve never really been one for following the crowd and I’ve always loved jelly. It stems from childhood when a bowlful of jelly was an amazing treat – how easily pleased we were – and even now, when I’m feeling homesick or a bit low for any reason, jelly hits the spot every time. And if there’s any ice- cream or squirty cream to go with it, so much the better!

Funnily enough, most American adults I know have no interest in jello – unless we’re talking jello shots – but yet there’s such a fantastic array of flavours unlike the UK where we’re pretty much limited to five flavours. So far I’ve come across peach, melon, cherry, blueberry, apricot, grape, fruit punch, cola, pineapple, mango… and those are just the ones I can remember!

While the Americans beat us on flavours, the thing I love about jelly in Britain is that you can get them in the form of squidgy gelatine squares whereas over here in America it’s always in crystal form. How I love those jelly squares! Whenever my mum used to make jelly for us, you could be sure I’d pop a couple of squares in my gob. In fact, I’ve even been known to scoff a whole packet like sweets!

EGGO WAFFLES

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In Britain, waffles are either Belgian or potato which are both fab but I remember my aunt making a different type of waffle when i used to go round to her house which seemed to be made from batter. I have no idea what brand it was but when I was much older I used to look for them in the frozen aisles but could never find them so they’d obviously been discontinued long ago.

Eggo waffles are the ones that come closest to my childhood memory and they are a firm favourite in our household.

SARA LEE DESSERTS

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Who remembers those Sara Lee television ads of the eighties where we were advised that “If at first you don’t succeed – cheat!” I’m quite sure that Sara Lee gateaus would have been all the rage at dinner parties back in the day but this brand is another thing that seems to have disappeared over the years in Britain. It was only when I used to visit Oregon a few years back that I ran into this brand at the supermarket like a long- lost friend… and those Sara Lee fruit pies soon became a freezer staple.

These days I’m addicted to Sara Lee’s pound cake. Delicious!

 

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Posted by on March 1, 2016 in Brands

 

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Old-Skool Ice-Cream Flavours

Today has been an absolute scorcher of a day. I swear half of me has melted away!

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If I could walk around the streets of London in a string bikini, I would. But unfortunately can’t (especially not with this bod!) so I’ve had to think of other ways to beat the heat and I’ve been downing anything that’s icy cold.

And thoughts turned to all the ice-creams we used to devour as kids. It goes without saying that we loved our ice-cream. For a number of reasons, this was not a freezer staple but rather an occasional treat. There’d always be tubs of Cornish vanilla or neopolitan ice-creams at family parties and gatherings; the ice-cream man wasn’t safe when we heard the van approaching our road, and ice-cream cones always featured when my family and I hit the local park. Unsurprisingly, Mum refused to stock up on ice-cream during the winter months, so ice-cream is most definitely synonymous with summer.

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Today ice-cream means Ben and Jerry’s, Haagen-Dazs, Carte D’or and (once) unusual flavours such as salted caramel, lemon meringue pie, espresso, and toffee apple. When I asked my class recently what their favourite flavours were, ‘pistachio’ and ‘green tea; featured in the answers. And me? Well funnily enough my favourite ice-creams are three which are very hard to find in England: I love butter pecan (USA) crème caramel/flan (Spain) and brown bread ice-cream (Ireland.) I must be the only person who needs to hop on a plane every time they fancy an ice-cream cone!

Image from bbc.co.uk

Image from bbc.co.uk

 

This is all good but it’s dawned on me that many of the ice-cream flavours from my childhood have either totally disappeared or they’re very hard to come by. Ice-creams in the 1970s,1980s and 1990s wasn’t necessary high-end or ultra-sophisticated. In fact when I think about it, there were very limited in their range of flavours (generally chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla) and packaging was anything but glam. Brands were typically Wall’s, Lyon’s Maid… and not much else! But it was fun, delicious and it kept you cool.

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I absolutely love ice-cream today: there’s a never-ending variety of flavours, including savoury flavours (avocado chilli or basil, anyone?) the quality has vastly improved, and it’s that much more creamier and flavourful. But I can’t help but get all nostalgic when I think about what ice-cream looked like back in the day and those retro flavours. So as an ode to summers gone by and staying cool, here’s a list of the ice-cream flavours that were around when I was growing up in the eighties. Some of them are still around; some are hard to find, and some seem to have melted away…

1. VANILLA

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Vanilla ice-cream needs absolutely no introduction! Vanilla ice-cream might be considered a bit, well, vanilla, but back in the eighties, in a world with limited ice-cream flavours, if anyone had a tub of ice-cream in their freezer, you could bet your life it would be vanilla. It was very popular in our house although Mum tended to buy it in block form rather than a tub. I suppose one reason it was so popular was because it was – and still is – so versatile: you could pop it in a soda float; add any flavour topping to it; layer it up in a sundae, or serve it as an accompaniment to a pudding such as a cake or tart – much like we do today. However most of the people I knew used to serve it with tinned fruit salad – a real treat back then for us kids (tinned fruit was the only fruit I’d eat back then) or jelly. It might not sound very sophisticated but if someone served that up for me now I’d still scoff it!

Today, vanilla has to work hard to maintain its popularity with all these weird and wonderful ice-cream flavours around that are tempting us away from this good, old-fashioned flavour. Vanilla is still tops due to its versatility but we’re much more fussy when it comes to the quality and won’t settle for any old vanilla ice-cream. It has to be super smooth and creamy, with an intense vanilla flavour – and if it happens to be vanilla bean ice-cream, so much the better!
2. CORNISH VANILLA

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Now this was the ice-cream flavour that Mum was most likely to buy and it was always the Wall’s brand that was in our freezer. Cornish vanilla ice-cream had a much deeper cream-come-yellow colour that regular vanilla ice-cream didn’t have, and what I remember most was that deliciously buttery flavour. Even as a child I felt that Cornish vanilla ice-cream didn’t really need any sauces or toppings thanks to that unique flavour; I preferred to have it ‘plain’.

Over the years I gradually stopped devouring Cornish vanilla. I’m not sure if it’s because I ate bucket-loads as a child or because I was tempted away by other flavours – or maybe both! But when I’m hit by nostalgia – as I so often am – I do treat myself to some Cornish vanilla ice-cream. However, I can’t help feeling a little underwhelmed by it because that intense, buttery flavour that I remember doesn’t seem the same – no matter which brand I buy. But I live in hope of rediscovering it.

3. CHOCOLATE

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I didn’t know a kid back then who didn’t like chocolate ice-cream – and I still don’t! It’s still very much a firm favourite today with children and adults alike. When I was growing up but it was just ‘chocolate’. Now chocolate ice-cream has more varieties than Heinz: white chocolate, chocolate brownie, chocolate fudge; chocolate cookie dough; chocolate mud pie; triple chocolate; chocolate-til-it’s-coming-out-of-your-ears etc.

At secondary school, we were fortunate enough to have an ice-cream van arrive in the school yard every lunch time and home time, where after school, I would sometimes treat myself to a chocolate cone. I wonder what Mr. Oliver would make of that!

And you don’t need me to tell you, it’s still one of the most popular ice-cream flavours all over the world. But thenwith all those chocolate variations it would have to be.
4. STRAWBERRY

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My memories of strawberry ice-cream – a flavour both my parents loved back then – was that it was always an eye-catching shade of pink, from a pretty pastel shade to a very deep pink. However one thing I’m wondering about is whether any of the strawberry ice-creams I devoured contained a scrap of real strawberry at all. I suspect most of them didn’t and were simply strawberry flavoured but even if we knew that back then, I doubt we would have minded very much.

Of course today there is a real distinction between the brightly coloured strawberry flavoured ice-cream, and the frozen, creamy delicacy that’s made with real strawberries and often contains yummy chunks of strawberries – and I definitely know which one I prefer!

And as with chocolate, there are many variations today of the humble strawberry ice-cream: strawberry cheesecake; strawberry shortcake; strawberries and cream; strawberry and Champagne… oh it was all so much simpler in my day!
5. MINT CHOC-CHIP

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A childhood fave for me, as I loved anything that was mint flavoured (as a matter of fact I still do!) And contrary to popular belief, mint ice-cream tastes nothing like toothpaste. When I was around seven, I went through a phase where I would only ever eat ice-cream if it was mint choc-chip. I loved the cool, refreshing, minty taste combined with creamy texture. And those dark chocolate chips were a very welcome addition. Mint and chocolate – a winning combo if ever I heard one. And of course I loved the minty green colour too.

Mint choc chip is still readily available and although I never rush out and buy a tub anymore (I definitely overindulged when I was a child and can never finish a whole tub now) I never say no to a mint choc-chip cone.
6. RASPBERRY RIPPLE

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This was another ice-cream flavour I really liked: vanilla ice-cream swirled with raspberry sauce. Once again Mum used to by this in block form (yep, those blocks sure were popular in the eighties and nineties) which we would usually slice and serve between two wafers. I was always very fussy about which slice I got because it had to be very heavily rippled with raspberry sauce.

Thankfully this delicious ice-cream is still popular today.
7. NEAPOLITAN

Neapolitan: the ice-cream of my childhood

Whoever invented Neapolitan ice-cream is right up there with Einstein! It was a great idea to put the three popular ice-cream flavours together: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. It meant that mums could buy just one tub and know it would please the whole family, and for those who just simply couldn’t decide which one to buy – they could just go for Neapolitan. One tub fits all!

It goes without saying that a tub of Neapolitan was always very well received in our house where we all had our favourites. And whenever we had guests over for dinner and there was going to be ice-cream for afters, if it wasn’t vanilla it was almost guaranteed to be Neapolitan because let’s face it everyone was guaranteed to like at least one of the flavours (unless they were strictly mint choc-chip in which case we were screwed!)

Neapolitan ice-cream is still around today but I wonder how many people have a tub in their freezer…
8. BROWN BREAD

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Although brown bread ice-cream was well-known during the eighties, I don’t ever recall it being available to buy in stores. Instead it seemed to be an ice-cream people were encouraged to make at home judging by the recipes I’d see in magazines and on cooking shows. At the time I remember thinking what an odd flavour it was for an ice-cream. Why on earth would anyone want to eat ice-cream made out of bread?

Well I’ve just come back from holiday where I indulged in the most gorgeous brown bread ice-cream. Words really don’t do it justice. Good on the ice-cream parlour for having brown bread ice-cream as one of its flavours. I hope other parlours and restaurants will follow.
9. RUM N’ RAISIN

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I never actually had rum n’ raisin ice-cream when I was growing up, despite it being quite popular, because I wasn’t keen on raisins and I was afraid I’d get drunk on the artificial rum flavour! How times have changed because now I love to get drunk on real rum… but I still have a love-hate thing going on with raisins. So good on rum n’  raisin for making it into the twenty first century but I really don’t think it’s something I’ll ever be wolfing down (it would have stood a better chance without the raisins.)

My mum, on the other hand, loves raisins but will never stock the freezer with rum and raisin because she hates the taste of rum!
10. BANANA

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This is an ice-cream flavour I loved back then and still do. Banana ice-cream wasn’t overly common when I was growing up – it still isn’t – but I remember that some restaurants offered it along with the top three. I really like banana ice-cream partly because I love the sweet, creamy taste of bananas but also because it made a change from vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. I’ve since discovered that banana ice-cream isn’t popular with a lot of people even now although I can’t understand why after all most people like a banana split and the flavours aren’t too dissimilar.

Never mind – I’ll still guzzle it by the bucketload!

11. TUTTI FRUTTI

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Meaning ‘all fruits’ in Italian, this ice-cream flavour containing mixed peel, dried and candied fruits was incredibly popular during the eighties and early nineties and was a huge hit with my family, especially my mum and aunts. But guess what? I HATED it! I couldn’t stand the stuff. I remember one occasion during a family get together when my five year old self had cried the house down because I wanted some ice-cream. And of all the flavours they could have brought me, they brought me a bowl of horrid tutti frutti.

“Now you eat that,” said my aunt in a very stern tone, “you asked for it, now eat it!” I didn’t dare tell her that even though I’d asked for ice-cream, I did not ask for that awful flavour.

Even though my palate has changed over the years and I now like foods I once detested, I don’t think I could ever get used to tutti frutti ice-cream. And I’m not sure I’ll ever get the chance to find out if I’m right because I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw it on sale… anywhere! In fact a lot of people I’ve spoken to have said the same. And despite my dislike of the flavour, I am sorry that it doesn’t seem to be around now as it brings back a lot of memories of my family, childhood and the eighties… and also because my mum likes it!

12. CHOC-CHIP

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Chocolate chip ice-cream is an absolute classic: smooth vanilla ice-cream combined with crunchy chocolate chips. This was a very popular ice-cream flavour as I was growing up but funnily enough I don’t remember us having this at home. On the rare occasions when we were fortune to sample a dish of choc chip, it was usually in a restaurant. And of course this flavour is still consumed by the truckload.

Right, now I’m going to stay cool with a huge tub of olive oil and bay leaf ice-cream. Bliss!

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Video

With This Ferrero Rocher Advert You Are Really Spoiling Us

It’s New Year’s Eve. People all over the world are going to be celebrating, partying, guzzling Champagne, and generally having a good time as is customary all over the world. So I thought it would be very appropriate to share one of my favourite television adverts. It’s the Ferrero Rocher ad where the ambassador (not sure of which country) is throwing a lavish reception and has invited guests from all over the world. Despite their numerous languages, they all understand the language of fine chocolate – and Ferrero Rocher was definitely considered top quality confectionary back in the day. And let’s face it – during the festive season, there would always be at least one box of Ferrero Rocher among the tins of Roses and Quality Street.

Even though this advert is more than two decades old, it is still very well remembered. It’s the cheesy piano music along with that classic line, “Monsieur, with Ferrero Rocher you are really spoiling us.” It’s a line I still use when I want to be sarcastic – and of course everyone instantly knows where it came from!

 
 

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It’s Dinky, It’s A Diary… It’s Dinky Diary!

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A friend and I had a wander around a book shop this afternoon when we stopped at the diaries that were on display. My friend picked one up and flicked through it, declaring that she’d never be dedicated enough to fill it in every day. Talk then turned to the diaries we used to keep when we were teenagers and the sort of things that we used to write in them. Yes, it was the usual teenage girl stuff, though by the sounds of it, hers sounded more angst-ridden than mine. It wasn’t that I had an idyllic life – I just chose to gloss over the not-so-great stuff!

Image from orchardhill.org.uk

Image from orchardhill.org.uk

But the conversation reminded me just how much I used to be into keeping a diary. There were some years where I was very good and managed to fill it in almost every day. Then there were years when there’d be nothing written after March! but I definitely had an addiction to diaries, and it was what I looked forward to at the end of every year. Even though I tended to buy myself diaries, I think there were a few years where I knew that one of the beautifully-wrapped gifts under the tree contained a book in which I would later write all my inner-most thoughts, courtesy of one of my friends who knew about my diary addiction. And one year I actually bought myself two diaries because I couldn’t choose between them – how’s that for an addiction?

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Today, I’m not sure that people keep diaries the way they used to. I used to manage a stationary shop and I’ve lost count of the number of organizer inserts and diaries that we had to reduce to almost nothing in order to get them out of the shop once we reached March. A lot of these would eventually end up getting binned. It’s hardly surprising – modern technology has made it so that we don’t need book-style diaries anymore. Our mobile phones perform all these kinds of functions and more making it unnecessary for us to buy a book to scribble down reminders and our thoughts. It’s a real shame because to me, using your mobile phone – as practical and convenient as it may be – it’s just not the same. I find it so impersonal. There’s nothing quite like putting pen to paper, and holding an actual book in your hand. I may be super old-fashioned but… you like what you like!

Image from journalbuddies.com

Image from journalbuddies.com

Why did I like diaries so much? Well, I liked the idea of having something to record my thoughts. I also knew that it was something that us girls did. I don’t recall ever having one with a lock (although I did want one!) but I didn’t wrap a hundred hair bands around it either – I kind of figured that that wasn’t going to stop anyone from breaking and entering! I also really liked the ‘extras’ that came with the diary. These were the additional pages that contained interesting and useful information. Some of the diaries I bought were typically aimed at girls, so there was information on diet, beauty, fashion, socialising etc. A diary for girls that I bought in the early ’90s by Letts, even contained weird and wonderful real life stories as well as self-defence tips. I loved it!

Image from apeekatparadise.com

Image from apeekatparadise.com

I also think that at the time I harboured ambitions about being the next Pepys. However when I look back, I really don’t think that there’s anything in them that would have made people want to read them five hundred years later. I remember at school, during a life skills class, one of my classmates revealed that although she kept a diary and wrote in it every day, she would throw it out once the year was over as she didn’t want to run the risk of anyone finding and reading them. I thought that was a terrible shame; after all in years to come it’ll serve as a reminder of your youth.

Image from pinterest.com

Image from pinterest.com

Fast forward many years, and I think I may, just may have one diary lurking around somewhere. So I probably did the same as my classmate did and chucked them out. Or they somehow got lost. Within the last decade, I’ve probably received just a couple of diaries as gifts. I certainly don’t buy them for myself any more. And when I do have a diary, I’m more likely to jot down appointments and other reminders rather than pour out my heart and soul into it!

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Apart from the Letts Girls Diary, I had two other favourites. One looked more like a Filofax, the must-have accessory from the decade I remember too well – the 1980s. As well as space to record your thoughts, there was also a school planner, recipes, all kinds of useful information, and stickers which could be used throughout the diary. It was very brightly coloured and interesting.

Oh how I miss this design! What my Dinky Diary looked like - but with tons more colour! Image from http://www.ipaustralia.com.au/

Oh how I miss this design! What my Dinky Diary looked like – but with tons more colour!
Image from http://www.ipaustralia.com.au/

The second diary that I had was the fabulous Dinky Diary. This came out, I believe, at the end of the eighties, although I didn’t buy mine until the early nineties and it really was a craze among teenage girls. Dinky Diaries, which were made by an Australian company, were very brightly coloured and were available in hot pink, blue, yellow, orange, purple and possibly red. They were more like organizers than basic diaries. I remember mine being purple while my sister nabbed the hot pink one. It was like a fold out book with a thick, hardback magnet cover that opened up into 3 sections: one for notes, one for addresses and a journal. It was and we felt very grown-up as we carried this diary around with us as though we had an exorbitant amount of information to either jot down or be reminded of. I went to an all-girls school so it went without saying that just about every pupil had one, and they would often adorn our desks. Why they were never confiscated I don’t know as I’m sure we spent more time fussing around with them than we did paying attention to the teacher. I don’t think that Dinky Diaries or anything that closely resembles them are available any more which is such a shame because more than two decades on, I’m sure there’s a new generation of young girls who’d love them just as much as we did.

Even though my Dinky Diary featured a different design, it's very similar to the organizer I had. Image from pinterest.com

Even though my Dinky Diary featured a different design, it’s very similar to the organizer I had.
Image from pinterest.com

I was probably in my early twenties when I stopped using a diary. I’m not completely sure of the reason why. I don’t think I could be bothered to write in it at the end of every day – the adult world leaves you very little time for such pursuits. However, writing this post has made me think about keeping a diary again. I’m sure it won’t amount to me doing anything more than jotting down appointments and reminders, but if I find one for 2015 that I think is interesting, not overly business-like and unashamedly girly, I could be tempted…

RELATED LINKS:
http://lynleystace.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/on-keeping-a-diary/

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Kinder Surprise: The Hidden Surprise Heston Did Not Think Of!

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Also available as a pack of three

Also available as a pack of three

It’s Easter – a time for all things chocolate and egg-shaped! As there were four of us kids when we were growing up, you couldn’t move in our house for all the Easter eggs that were cluttering up our house. But of course they would never last long because we could easily demolish that bumper supply in record time! I look around now and how much chocolate do we have? One chocolate bunny and four mini eggs which have barely been touched. I must be getting old!

But just last week a colleague inadvertently brought up another childhood memory of the egg-shaped variety when he mentioned that he had bought a pack of Kinder Bueno to snack on. I immediately thought back to when sis and I were at infant school and Dad would always come home with a Kinder Surprise for us. At first it was just the one but it soon became obvious that we were not going to share, so Dad eventually saw sense and would buy us one each.

Is that a surprise I see..?

Is that a surprise I see..?

Kinder Surprise – the stuff little kids dreams are made of! First made in Italy in 1973 by Ferrero, A Kinder Surprise is a hollow egg-shaped chocolate shell, about the same size as a regular egg. The shell is made up of two types of chocolate – scrummy milk chocolate on the outside and delicious white chocolate inside.

Contrasting chocolate egg with toy

Contrasting chocolate egg with toy

The two halves of the egg are fused together so it looks like a whole egg but with a little light pressure, the egg will split to reveal the hidden surprise – a plastic capsule which contains a small toy which is usually made of plastic and usually needs assembling. And in case you haven’t guessed, it’s primarily meant for kids!

But that didn’t stop me from heading out to the supermarket in search of this forgotten gem. Unlike a lot of things from my childhood, Kinder Surprise has not been obliterated and it is still very much alive and well! I picked up one for me and Hubby – and was amazed when on presenting it to him, he had absolutely no idea what it was!

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I later found out that this is because the sale of Kinder eggs in the States was prohibited due to a 1938 act banned the sale of sweets which had a toy or trinket in it. This was further enforced in 2012 as the toy part was considered a hazard for small children. So poor Hubby missed out as a child! Not that he was particularly impressed with it now – it was me who was jumping up and down all excited!

I don’t believe it’s changed very much since I was a child. The foil wrapper still uses the same colours. The only difference being that my wrapper contained an image of a Disney princess thus giving a clue as to what was inside. Also the plastic capsule is no longer in two parts. Instead it is now a single piece of plastic with a hinge on one side – and extremely difficult to open!

Cinderella - courtesy of Kinder Surprise

Cinderella – courtesy of Kinder Surprise

I thoroughly enjoyed my little trip down memory lane. I even took the Cinderella figure I’d assembled in to work the next day and was asked when I was going to turn twelve!

“Don’t you mean six?” laughed another colleague.
“Oh my gosh, is that thing plastic?” asked another colleague as he examined the figure before shaking his head and walking off. Well I’m sorry but Kinder Surprise have yet to include miniature Royal Doulton figures in their toy capsules!

And six years old or not – I’ll most definitely be buying them again!

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Video

Not So Rosey On Quality Street

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Christmas is over, the decorations have long been taken down, and we’re all heaving a sigh of relief that we won’t have to look at another turkey until the end of the year. However not all traces of Christmas have completely disappeared as we’re still surrounded by a huge mountain of chocolate that we couldn’t manage to get through during the festive season – even though we had been dutifully stuffing our faces with the stuff!

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Among the stash which is going to take us another year to finish – I won’t need to bother buying chocs this Christmas – is a plastic tub of Heroes which is now half full of miniature chocolates, which I don’t mind but I’m not over the top crazy about, so I’m contemplating turning them into a scrummy, yummy fondue or a brownie so that they’ll be fully appreciated and not sit lingering in the tub for the best part of a year.

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But despite consuming an amount of chocolate that would make an oompa loompa very happy (actually my brother often calls me an oompa loompa but we won’t talk about that!) what was missing this year was the mammoth tin of Roses or Quality Street we used to receive every year since we were knee-high to… an oompa loompa! To us, those tins of chocolate are as synonymous with Christmas as tinsel covered trees and nativity cribs – Christmas just isn’t Christmas without them!

I remember these!!! image from timeplan.com

I remember these!!! image from timeplan.com

 

One of the highlights of our Christmas involved working our way through a tin, tub or glass jar of either Roses or Quality Street (if we were extraordinarily lucky – both!) We couldn’t wait to take the lid off the tin and get stuck in. Even though Roses and Quality Street are available all year round in their standard box form, there’s something about seeing those beautifully wrapped sweets in bright jewel tones at Christmas that makes them very apt for that festive time of year. Opening a tin of Roses or Quality Street was like entering Aladdin’s cave; all those interesting colours, shapes, sizes and textures… no wonder it was such a huge hit with young children.

I still have one of these - minus the lid and label sadly. Image from ebay.com

I still have one of these – minus the lid and label sadly. Image from ebay.com

 

The chocolate tin was the equivalent of the Olympic gold medal in our house – it was regarded as something special that everyone wanted to get their hands on. And it was ideal, no, a necessity for Christmas telly viewing. All six of us would be gathered together in the living room. Dad would be sprawled out on the sofa, rummaging through the tin and gobbling up chocolate as though his life depended on it. Chocolate wrappers would be scattered on the floor much to Mum’s annoyance and our amusement. This would soon be followed by a surprised cry of “Oh! It’s all gone! Who finished it?” Er, you did, Dad but I suppose we should thank you for having the decency to finish the orange fondants and coffee creams. We may love our Roses and Quality Street but I seriously do not know anyone who actually likes these.

As Quality Street tubs appear today.

As Quality Street tubs appear today.

Now that I’m married, I wanted to continue the tradition. Buying a special Christmas edition tin of Roses or Quality Street that is, not having Dad scoff the lot. As Hubby is from the States, he’s never had either before, so he left it up to me to decide which one to get. As it was our first Christmas together in the UK, I thought I’d go all out and get both. However, I was soon left sorely disappointed.

First of all, they now come in a plastic tub not a lovely metal tin as in years gone by which was ideal for storing biscuits or if you’re like my mum – rice! Then I discovered that for both types of chocolate collections, many of my favourites had been discontinued. The selection of chocolates available were greatly reduced and if I’m being brutally honest, I didn’t like most of them. What have they done to my beloved Roses and Quality Street?

A quick look at reviews and forums indicate that I’m not alone. There have been many complaints regarding both quantity and quality of the chocolates. Many have noticed that the flavours have changed and that the chocolates tastes sickly sweet. Some have put the change down to takeovers by different companies while others believe that it’s due to having to be economical in times of financial crisis. But whatever the changes may be it doesn’t change the fact that it’s not the chocolate assortments that we once knew and loved.

And although it’s a more minor issue, I can’t say I’m too thrilled with the new look designs. Although they disappeared fourteen years ago, I wish that Nestle had not got rid of the image of the two characters Major Quality and Miss Sweetly – who incidentally were inspired by the knowledge that people in the 1930s craved nostalgia. And as for what’s supposed to be an abstract rose which features as part of the Roses design, well it just looks more like a child’s scribble. The design on my mum’s old tin has a beautiful design from either the late 70s or early 80s. I know things have to change as years go by but I thought change was supposed to be for the better.

With Major Quality and Miss Sweetly

With Major Quality and Miss Sweetly

Roses and Quality Street appeared in the 1930s; a time when boxed chocolates could only be afforded by the wealthy. These assortments were reasonably priced and nicely presented, low-cost packaging thus making it available to most working people. And over the years it has been a massive hit. Christmas aside, we knew we were in for a real treat if someone gave us a box of Roses or Quality Street as we were growing up. I also bought into the slogan “Say ‘Thank You’ with Cadbury’s Roses” and it would always be my go-to box of chocolates if I ever wanted to give a small token of appreciation.

Sadly, it’s not something I would do now. And unless the quality of these chocolates improve, I think it’s safe to say that it will be another tub of Heroes again this Christmas.

gingham-apron-pie-lady2.jpg

 

 

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Taylor Made For Modelling

Supermodels and the fashion industry were a bit of an obsession for me when I was in my early teens. I was on the brink of becoming a young woman and suddenly clothes, make-up and looking super hot in order to bag the boys was all that mattered in life! It’s no wonder I looked to the supermodels for inspiration (weird considering I’m as far removed from ‘supermodel as you can get – but still no harm in trying!) I still find it hard to decide who my fave supermodel was but American model, Niki Taylor was most definitely in the top ten.  So naturally, I was thrilled to see an article featuring Supermodel of the nineties, Niki Taylor in the British press yesterday as the cover girl and mum of four made an appearance at Badgley Mischka runway show during Mercedes-Benz  Fashion Week.

Despite having the Cindy-style mole, Niki Taylor didn’t have the same level of Cindy-style fame in the UK and was probably one of the least known of the supers on this side of the Atlantic despite having started modelling at the age of thirteen and going on to grace the covers of Seventeen and Vogue. However, along with her late sister, Krissy Taylor, Niki was definitely one of my favourite models. One of the things I liked about Niki was that even though she was stunningly beautiful, she still had this earthy naturalness about her. She was beautiful but she could have been any girl on the beach or on the street (though obviously the girl who’d be attracting the most attention!) Although she was as equally beautiful as the other 90s supermodels – incidentally a term Cindy Crawford is quoted as saying she hated – she didn’t overdo the glam factor as many of her modelling contemporaries did. But then again, she didn’t have to do so; she had this unique girl-next-door beauty that was all her own. Niki looked at home sashaying down the catwalk at Paris Fashion Week as she did rollerblading down the sun-drenched streets of her Florida home.

In Britain, Niki is best remembered as being the first spokesmodel for Cover Girl Cosmetics – a brand that was very short-lived over here although it is still going strong in the States. As a young girl entering her early teenage years and beginning to develop an interest in make-up, my favourite supermodel’s association with Cover Girl is partly the reason why I favoured their products. Furthermore, after it was revealed that Niki swore by Beverly Hills Toothpaste to keep her pearly whites glowing, guess who started using the same brand of toothpaste? I used it religiously for years, and still use it occasionally today.

I also remember Niki’s role as a fashion/style advisor in Looks magazine – a magazine I purchased every month religiously. Readers would write in with their fashion and beauty dilemmas and Niki would solve them. After a few years, this role was then passed on to another model (Caprice, I think) but it just wasn’t the same and I missed Niki.

Although her career has constantly been on the rise, the model’s personal life has been a series of highs and lows (but then, who’s hasn’t!) She surprised everyone back in 1993, when a few months after graduating from high school, a nineteen year old Niki married  former Miami Hooters line-backer, Matt Martinez, after a whirlwind romance. The pair eloped to Las Vegas although they did eventually have a more traditional ceremony in 1994. Niki was already pregnant by then and when on to have twin sons, Jake and Hunter.

 

Unfortunately the marriage didn’t last, and along with the collapse of her relation with Martinez, some low points in Niki’s  life included a near-fatal car crash, and more tragically, the sad passing of her younger sister Krissy.

But life today for Niki gives her good reason to flash that megawatt smile. Now married to NASCAR driver, Burney Lamar, Niki is also mum to four year old daughter Ciel and toddler Rex, as well as Jake and Hunter who are now big strapping lads of nineteen. It’s hard to believe as Niki has lost none of her teen model looks!

I’m so glad that there’s still interest in Niki even though she likes to keep a fairly low-profile. The nineties supers always bring back very happy memories of flicking thorough fashion mags; experimenting with hair and make-up and shopping trips with my friends. And I have Niki and co. to thank for that.

 

 

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