Renna's Discoveries: February 2018

Friday, February 23, 2018

Birthday Weekend is Booked - Edinburgh here we come !!

After spending hours and hours trying to find a weekend away for my birthday in March, it is now finally all booked. All through one website too. 
I always search through as you can book flights and hotels. I booked EasyJet flights very easily and then after two days of searching for the best value hotel, I booked the ibis Edinburgh Centre Royal Mile – Hunter Square. 
Booking.Com has excellent reviews for it, stating that it has the best location, fantastic staff and really good facilities, aswell as it being extremely clean and comfortable. 

The Ibis is actually under the umbrella of Accor Hotels, so I am very happy with my choice - its funky and modern in the Old Town of Edinburgh, and just a 10 minute to the castle and 5 minutes to everything else. It is on a high street with bars and restaurants, so a very short stumble home in the evening. It's a three star hotel, so it has everything that we need for the weekend. 

Here take a look

What do you think ? You can have a look at their direct website below.

So all I need to do now is sit back and relax and wait until we go. I actually can't remember the last time myself and the husband had a whole weekend to ourselves...infact, I think its been 9 years. We've had nights, and he's had a few weekends and weeks away but I've only ever had one night away from the children. Oh my ..... you could actually call this our minimoon. Which I find very amusing, considering we've almost been married 6 years. 

So....this weekend is well needed and actually deserved. 

Have you been to Edinburgh ? Feel free to comment or email any suggestions of places or restaurants to visit. 

* all photos are from the Ibis website

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Papa John's Takeaway Pizza

Sometimes, I really can't be bothered to cook or I'm on my way home and want to eat as soon as I get in, so a good takeaway is always an option. This is rare in our house, but Pizza is such a good takeaway and easy. Plus everyone likes it, so it's easier to share. You can order it on your way home so you can eat pretty much 5 minutes after stepping through your door.... Bliss !!!

Papa John's all started when John Schnatter starting making pizza in his fathers tavern in 1972. By 1985 he had saved so much that he was able to open his own restaurant in Indiana. In the next few years, he sold franchises and in no time at all, he had 100 Papa John Restaurants. In 2001, he started the online sales, so people would order online and then collect their pizza or have it delivered, this sent the sales soaring, so now in 2018, he now has over 200 restaurants in the UK alone.

The success comes from the dough. Papa John's dough is made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and is all made at their Head Quarters and sent out to all the Papa Johns Restaurant, so where ever you go, it will always be consistently good and tastes exactly the same. The other bonus is that only fresh ingredients are added on top. So you know that when you collect your pizza, it is all made and cooked especially for you.

Just to tempt you, have a look and click the links to order !! I like to make it extra quick for you.
They have a special campaign where they would love to see your pizzas on your social media. So all you need to do, is order your pizza, take a photo, any kind of photo, you can make it as fun or as artistic as you like and tag Papa Johns and #PJWOW

Have you tried Papa Johns ? What do you think. I love it - it's a cheat treat for me and great for a family night in or movie nights at your friends. Who's Hungry ? 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Why have CCTV ?

Do you think having CCTV is a good idea or a waste of time ? I have this discussion quite a lot with different people, as there are ongoing break in's and motorbikes being stolen in the UK all the time. I would be absolutely devastated if anyone broke into my house. There's not much to take, but its just the fact that someone has been going through my personal belongings that would make me feel really uncomfortable and actually... a bit violated.
I used to get quite a few people come to my door trying to sell items or to promote a charity and I really hated the fact that I was stuck in person trying to get someone to leave my property because I wasn't interested in their product. They would put on the hard sale and I hated it. This is my own personal space and they are invading it. Unfortunately some door to door salesmen just don't seem to take no for an answer. There are also the threat of distraction methods, where someone would knock at the door and strike up a conversation whilst someone is trying to break in around the back of the house or something else just as sinister.
After explaining to my husband about the amount of people that knock on the door whilst I'm home alone he decided there was only one way to solve this problem and that was CCTV that he could log into at anytime via WIFI so he could see who was coming to the door and at what time. So we looked into lots of different options. A great idea is to have a Panasonic Motion Sensor . This is part of a package where you can install CCTV and the Motion Sensor around your home, and if the motion sensor is triggered by any movement, you get a notification on your phone or IPAD - whatever your account is on, so you can have a quick look at the cameras to make sure everything is OK, or to make a note of the time a parcel was delivered. You can also see who knocks at the door and at what time. This also helps if you want to avoid answering the door - you know who's there before you've even walked up to it.
 Being a blogger and having a husband that loves ordering from Amazon, we also get a lot of parcels and if I'm not in, they are left in my porch, along with my neighbours parcels if they are not in. I have a secure porch and they do not, so I get all the parcels. I don't mind, unless they need signing for....
However, now I have CCTV, I know for a fact that if anyone were to take the parcels, I would know exactly who it was and when it was delivered. My neighbours are fully aware of this and they are happy to, especially as my CCTV also covers their driveways too.

I do think it is worth every penny to make sure your home is safe and secure. It's a great feeling knowing that when I am out or away, my house is still secure. When we had builders in the house during some renovations, and the doors were unlocked and there were tools all over the place, I felt happy knowing that everything was being recorded and I knew when they were in the house and when they left. It could seem a bit sneaky, but I also knew that they were not sitting on their arses all day drinking tea when I wasn't there. So having CCTV whilst you're having house is having work done, just makes sense.

Another surprise is that I don't get many people knocking on my door anymore. It has actually made a massive difference.... I hardly ever get door to door salesmen. I don't know why, but if I do, they spot the camera and they accept my..... sorry I'm not interested very quickly. They never used to. I don't know why, but I very rarely get anyone knocking on my door asking if my driveway or windows needs cleaning. I really wish I had CCTV when a man came to my house and asked if he could clean my driveway and when I said no, he called me a dirty bitch and I should be ashamed of myself... The ironic thing was that I had just got out the shower, with my hair dripping wearing just a bathrobe... Now if I had the CCTV then, I would have seen who was at the door before rushing downstairs and getting abuse. I would absolutely recommend that everyone get some kind of CCTV at your home, even if it is just to see who's at the front door.  I love mine.

What do you think ? Is CCTV worth it ?

*This is a sponsored post but all words are my own.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Valentine Gift Ideas with GiftsOnline4u.Com

Valentines Day is just around the corner, the day of Love. It's like Christmas all over again for some. What do they get? How much should they spend? What kind of present will they be expecting?
Do you have a romantic night in, or do you brave the restaurants and try and get booked in somewhere? If you are into valentines Day and the whole concept of it, then you need to be prepared. You need to get a gift where you've actually thought about it, you can't just grab something quick, as they will know.
So the best gift is a personalised gift. This way you have shown thought, and you've actually spent time on the gift as well. Even if you haven't engraved it yourself. I myself love personalised gifts, purely because of my name. It's not a name where I can walk into a shop and find a mug or a pen or a key ring with it on it already. Of course I love my name for that very same reason, and I know quite a few other people with names with slightly different spellings to the norm so they have to get items personalised for them too.
I was asked to have a look at GiftsOnline4u online shop, where everything is personalised. I sat looking through everything for almost an hour as there were so many amazing items for sale. So then I had to start really thinking about what would be the best gift that I could personalise and also for it to be a forever gift that had meaning behind it. I also wanted something a little subtle too. So I suddenly remembered what I loved as a child that I held close to me. A Locket. My mum bought me a gold locket (which I still have of course) and it was just about big enough for a couple of photos of my dogs - don't forget that many years ago, all photos were printed in a shop, so I couldn't digitalise photos to fit, like we can now. Anyways, so my doggy pictures fit the best at the time.
Myself and the hubs don't really do Valentines, as such. We buy each other gifts throughout the year, have days out and on the odd occasion we'll go out for dinners on our own. Now the kids are older, we have nights out more often. Anyways, so I don't feel the need to buy him a gift - he has me, that's good enough.
So then I thought, I'd get my friend of many many years a Valentines Gift. She's single at the moment and works very hard so I thought I would treat her.
GiftsOnline4u have a choice of three lockets.
I really loved the heart shape necklace locket, but I wasn't actually sure if she would wear it , or whether it would end up hanging on a jewelery tree as a decoration. So then I thought of practicalities. A key ring is something everyone needs and uses so, then I was left with only two to decide from. That was easy.....she loves Hearts. 

On the GiftsOnline4u webpage, it is really easy to add your order and your personalised words - now be careful, because once you've confirmed, you can't normally change it unless you are super quick. Think carefully about what words you want to use. I was trying to be cute and clever and then in the end, I thought simple and to the point is best. The locket is 5cm across, so there is plenty of room for beautiful clear pictures. So whilst you are waiting for the delivery, you have a couple of days to choose the right photos. 

As you can see, it is mirrorred as well, so this doubles up as an actual mirror - perfect for a quick make-up touch up.
I love this. I was super pleased with my choice, its a great size, it's good quality and will look good on a handbag or with the keys.
My only query with it is, will it get scratched easily, only time will tell, but least I know it's been used...

Other ideas of gifts that I considered are :


They are all so lovely, it really was a hard decision, but at least I have ideas for birthdays and future gifts. I love the bracelet too - next time I think !!!
My chosen gift is £22.99 at present, and GiftsOnline4u have a wide range of gifts with different budgets. 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

The Spice Pioneer

One thing, I have always been uncertain with when I'm cooking, is Spices. What are they? what do they smell like? why are there so many ? What spices go with what meal? and the good ole, "oh no I've added too much spice now what do I do?"

There are so many amazing dishes out there to make and a lot of them include some kind of spice or several spices and there's always the dish that have spices that you've never heard of so therefore you don't have it. So you think it will be OK and you subsitute the spice for another. But really, unless you know your spices you have no idea.
Thankfully there are recipe books to help us, but an even better service is now available for us - Spice Deliveries !!!
The Spice Pioneer delivers a box of spices for a well know recipe from somewhere exotic and all you have to do is buy the main parts of the dish and make it. Sounds simple doesn't it, well, it is !!
It is a monthly subscription package that fits perfectly through your letterbox. Then wait for it to arrive and travel to another country in your own kitchen.
Open the box to find a selection of spices and the inspirational reasoning behind the particular recipe, as well as memories of the spice pioneers travels.

The recipe cards are of amazing quality which you can wipe them clean and store for future cooking. This is the start of your culinary spicey experience.
Each card has the recipe broken down into steps for you to follow. The timings have all been figured out for you, so if you do exactly as the card says, everything will be ready all at the same time.
 The cards even break down what shopping you need to do. This is cooking at home but creating amazing delicious dishes that I wouldn't even attempt on my own. I felt like the card was my teacher. As you can see, it really is easy and they've made it as simple as possible.
 So once I had figured out what I needed to buy and what I already had at home, I went shopping to get the remaining ingredients and decided to throw a watermelon in with it too. I wanted the kids to join in with our dinner so I added it as I knew they would eat that instead of the oranges. But this is the bonus of it.... you can add what you like, or change something to suit you. You can change fish to chicken, or change chicken to mushrooms, it's up to you, this is your spice journey !

 So, then I just followed the incredibly easy instructions and went for it.

 Here they are, all complete and ready to serve, smelling delicious.
I did all this with the help of my young daughter. We prepped everything together and basically shared the cooking experience. In fact.... I think she could have done this by herself as it is so easy and the instructions are explained and broken down so well that even a kitchen virgin would be able to make this. I loved this experience, as it opened my eyes to different flavours and I realised how easy it can be.

What do you think ?

It tasted amazing, even if I do say so myself. It was very sweet with the apricots, so the amount can be changed to suit you. The kids really liked it, but my hubs prefers more savoury food, but thats OK, as he can make up the next spice box which is a spicy curry from Sri Lanka - Galle.

The Spice Pioneer is £8.33 per month. It does sound expensive, but you are paying for the experience and lessons in cooking as well as the actual spices so I think it's worth it. It's great for when you are entertaining guests or just for your normal dinner at home.

I really enjoyed this experience and I thank Spice Pioneer for creating such a fabulous idea.