I love Mexican food, ever since I tasted my first burrito as a student in New York, I have been a super fan.  However it is not a food that I find easy to recreate in the kitchen from scratch which is why I am also a massive fan of the Old El Paso range.

We were recently set a selection of products to review, including Enchiladas, two rice one pan meals, a couple of easy to make casserole sauces and some relishes for us to dip our tortilla chips in.

The whole range has been scrumptious.  We took the One Pan Rice meals on our recent holiday to Cornwall, and they were the perfect easy option for the end of the day.  The One Pan Rice Meals come together in moments and can be made veggie or with meat and the whole family wolved them down (before I even snapped a shot!).

The One Pan Rice Meals take twenty minutes to prepare  – you can see the recipe here.  I definitely recommend adding a red pepper for a bit of colour and extra zing.

I have used the casserole sachets in the slow cooker, last night we enjoyed quorn mince, mixed with tomato, sweetcorn, red pepper, onion and a Chilli and Roasted Casserole mix.  The end result was utterly scrumptious, it was a chilli meets casserole sensation.

So delicious that I had it as leftovers for lunch!

The Old El Paso website has lots of ideas for meals and ideas for Mexican themed parties, it is a great resource to check out if you are planning a Mexican night in either for the girls, the boys or the children!

Tomorrow night we are having enchiladas – I can hardly wait!

Thrifty wise – the Old El Paso range is really well priced, with deals being found in many well known supermarkets.  So you get great food at a great price!


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Managing multiple debts is highly stressful. Thankfully, debt consolidation can bring much needed relief from the complexities of numerous credit card bills or purchase hire contracts. Here’s a look at the reasons to consolidate your debt into one more manageable amount using a debt consolidation loan from peer-to-peer lenders like Zopa:

Cut out the stress of multiple repayments

Keeping on top of multiple debt repayments can take a real toll on an individual. Looming due dates and the confusion of what is owed to each card make day-to-day budgeting a hassle – with debt being the overwhelming topic on your mind every time you spend. Debt consolidation eliminates stress as multiple repayments are cut down to just one per month. Household budgeting is immediately made easier too, you’ll know exactly how much you need to reserve for just one payment each month.


Make the most of lower interest rates

Debt consolidation will also help you dramatically reduce the whole cost of your debt through lower interest rates. If you’ve been paying the minimum payment on numerous debts you may have only been dealing with the interest element on your account, which leads to a higher total cost throughout the lifetime of each debt. Peer-to-peer lenders offer the low interest rates for their borrowers, especially when compared to the interest rates charged by credit cards and store cards.  This means a debt consolidation loan can help cut the costs of interest you’d pay as a whole, compared to paying off the debts separately over time.  .

Avoid banks

For those who have not necessarily had positive experiences dealing with their banks, peer-to-peer lending enables debt consolation without ever entering a bank. Applications can be made online with decisions made within just 24 hours. Tight criteria are crucial to securing a consolidation loan however, these include the ability to show credit history, identity and proof of UK address for at least 3 years.

Peer-to-peer lending, or social lending as it is also known, is particularly popular with those who would rather work within the community. People borrow from people of all walks of life – from entrepreneurs to pensioners, students to housewives – while enjoying low, marketing leading loan rates.

Get Ready to See a Future Debt Free

With just one repayment each month, and a fixed loan term of between two to five years, planning a long-term strategy for overcoming your debt is much more realistic. Finally, with conscientious repayments monthly, a debt free future will be foreseeable and achievable. Consolidating your debt will help bring real focus to your debt repayment.


The risks of consolidating your debt…

Debt consolidation is not appropriate for everyone. If you have an erratic income, perhaps you work as a freelancer or seasonal worker, then commitment to a larger monthly payment may not be appropriate. For minimal stress, you need to be able to feel comfortable and confident that you can pay back your loan each month. Success with debt consolidation also relies upon not taking on any new, large debts as you pay back your loan.

Be aware that as with taking on any other credit tools, making numerous debt consolidation loan applications in a row can have a negative effect on your credit history

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Online reviews are a quick and easy way to gauge public opinion to a company or its products, but how much can they really be trusted? In the digital age, the Internet is often the first port of call when seeking information prior to a purchase, and so online reviews play an extremely important role to consumers and manufacturers alike.

In this article we take a look at several of the pros and cons when it comes to using online reviews, and examine whether they are a fair and accurate indicator.

Many companies actively seek product reviewers, and offer incentives, either financial or – commonly – a free sample of the product. There is of course nothing at all underhand about this, but it is more likely to result in favourable opinions and reviews. Some sites even pay people to write positive (or indeed negative) reviews of a specific product in order to meet a company goal – be that to enhance their own company’s reputation or adversely affect a direct competitor.

This latter point is important – the Internet is a very powerful tool and carries a strong influence on its users: should a product receive a handful or disparaging reviews posted on its website or in a more general forum, this can be extremely detrimental. Conversely, products and companies can also receive a major boost by virtue of online “word of mouth”.

It is also perfectly possible for companies to filter or remove comments they have received prior to publication on their website – it’s highly unlikely, for example, that a very negative review of a product would appear on a manufacturer’s own site; glowing reviews or testimonials are however commonplace. It is also quite often the case that satisfied customers may prefer not to post opinions or reviews of their goods or a service received, whereas customers with a bad experience may wish to share their views publicly.

In order to receive a more informed opinion of a product or service, third party or specialist review websites are a good port of call. Major supermarket chains and sites which sell a wide variety of products, such as Amazon or Argos for example, offer a wide range of reviews on many of their products – often accompanied by a series of rankings for such factors as speed of delivery, the quality of the product itself and any aftercare or service received. This also helps consumers to weed out negative reviews based solely on a delayed or lost delivery – it’s not unusual to find highly negative reviews posted on some sites simply because the product turned up late: the purchaser may be delighted with the product itself but the review may not even describe this.

A sensible rule of thumb when analysing customer reviews is to look for a reasonably large body of opinions, discount the extreme ends of the comments (both positive and negative) and use the remainder as a guideline. It is also worth seeking out product reviews across a variety of sites (where possible) – one site may carry a number of bad reviews, while another could be overwhelmingly positive about the same thing. With a little research and a few extra clicks, the Internet can be an extremely valuable source of information.

A good example of using comparison or review sites is the UK energy market. The recent round of price hikes among the major suppliers has left consumers scrambling to find the best deal for their domestic energy: with a growing number of comparison sites available, customers can analyse public opinion on British Gas or read Ovo energy customer reviews before committing to a new supplier.

My kitchen is tired, almost as tired as I am, but not quite.

It needs some tender loving care, potentially a complete overhaul – but cost always remains a factor when it comes to waking up the home.

However, I do have some exciting news – Magnet have got some great February deals on over on their website.  It is more than worth checking out if you are in the mood to do some re designing in the home this year.  Plus, what could be nicer than a new kitchen?


Our kitchen is the focal point of the home, where the kids tell me about their day as I make the next days packed lunches, it is where my husband greets me when he comes in from work, it is where I spend a bit of time relaxing on a weekend after a hefty baking session.

So, Magnet have an exclusive online sale on – but you have to be quick – it is only on until the end of February.

If you enter your email here:  www.magnet.co.uk/discount-voucher and read the full terms and conditions on the site you can download a voucher to use to buy your dream kitchen from one of the ranges currently involved in the promotion.

Sales like this means creating your dream home doesn’t have to break the bank.

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Competition is in the air.

The winter Olympics is all over the TV, and we are feeling patriotic as a family.

However tonight, that all ends.

Tonight we are pitting ourselves against each other and prepare to fight to the death to win our Family Games Night.

That may sound a little harsh but you may not quite realise how competitive my family is, starting with my husband and working down to my youngest child.  The kind folks at TwoLittleFleas have challenged my brood to put down the phones and the tablets and engage in a great British tradition of board games.

Tonight is the night.

Let me introduce you to the contenders.

My son: possibly the most forcefully competitive amongst us, he looks angelic but this child has a flaw.  He cannot lose, it is the worse feeling in the world for him and he will do anything in his power to avoid it.  Top games include: Snakes & Ladders and Junior Pictionary.



The girl, my eldest daughter.  Known for her determined nature and inability to accept defeat.  She rates herself as the queen of Ludo and is a demon at Snap.  My advice is: don’t cross her….




She looks like a cutie pie, but this child has no respect for the rules, determined to win at all costs and too little to really comprehend the concept of most games she cheats until victory is hers.  Best games are Hide and Seek Peppa Pig and Moshi Monster Matching.


Look at that face, it means business, the children inherited their competitive streak from this man, he is not to be underestimated.  Preferred games are Scrabble and Black Jack.






My competitive brood, and of course myself, I really just join in for the fun, I don’t mind if I win or lose, although I do normally win.

And boy, I like how it feels when I win.

So the challenge…

We are embarking on a game of Snap to warm up the competitive genes and then a game of Monopoly first, I fear Scrabble may be a step too far for the children as linguistically the small one can’t read and the big one (Daddy) is a poor speller.

We have chips and dips, and a huge chocolate bar for the winner (me).

It could get messy….

Bring it on.

Many thanks to twolittlefleas for helping out with some family bonding time!

The Next Day – Update

Last night was fantastic.

We had so much fun and not one single bout of fisty cuffs.

The winner was my eldest daughter, although don’t tell the small one that as she went to bed under the mistaken belief that she was the champion.  She actually demolished more hotels than she built.  My son took the defeat gracefully but reminded us for the next hour that he was the reigning victor at Snap.

The best thing about having a night in together was that it didn’t cost anything, but was a great family experience. Proving that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a good time with your children, or in this case we didn’t have to spend anything at all.