Featured Slider

How to Cook the Best Budget-Friendly Cut of Steak

Steak is probably considered a more expensive choice of meal; something you might have as a weekend treat and as we start to feel the pinch of the increase in the cost of living, saving money on our weekly food shop has become a priority which might make you think that steak is off the menu. 

You might be forgiven for thinking that a cheaper cut of steak means that you're compromising on quality but that doesn't have to be the case if you buy from a reputable butcher and you cook it correctly. I recently ordered some flat iron steak from Swaledale Butchers which is much more budget friendly at less than £10 for 2 steaks. 

Swaledale Butchers say 'Flat Iron, a tender steak that boasts flavour to match the prime steaks. Cut from beneath the shoulder blade of the beast by our skilled butchery team, it is naturally lean, sinew-free and perfect to cook year-round.' 

I enjoy my steak medium rare so the following cooking instructions will produce steak that is cooked as such:

1. Take Flat Iron steaks out of fridge, remove packaging, pat dry with kitchen paper, pop on a plate and allow to reach room temperature

2. Oil the steaks and season generously with coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper

3. Heat a non-stick pan or cast iron skillet until smoking hot

4. Add the Flat Irons to the dry pan resisting the urge to move them and turn after 2 minutes

5. Once other side has cooked for 2 minutes, a rich golden crust should have formed. Turn every 30 seconds or so for a total cooking time of approx. 6-8 minutes

6. Remove from pan and rest for 8 minutes

7. Slice across the grain and serve

As you can see, I served mine with simple accompaniments of fries and tender stem broccoli and I think this works really well when keeping the meal as simple as possible. No sauce required because the steak was so flavoursome!

Tips for getting the most out of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) is back at Walt Disney World for the first time since 2019 and the whole experience can feel like a bit of a minefield for a first-timer. There's lots of things that are worth knowing before you go to make sure you get the most out of your party time so I thought I'd answer some of the most common questions asked about Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party.


Q: Do I need a park reservation for the day of the party?
A: No you don't. MNSSHP is an after hours event which requires a separate ticket. You do not need daytime park admission at all, you can just buy the event ticket.

Q: What time can I enter the park for MNSSHP?
A: You can enter the park any time after 4pm with an event ticket. If you'd like to enter before that you must have a daytime park ticket plus a valid park reservation for that day. 

Q: If I'm already in the park, can't I just stay for MNSSHP?
A: Not unless you have an event ticket. There are several points around the park where you can have your event ticket scanned and you'll be given a MNSSHP wrist band but if you don't have an event ticket you will be ushered out by cast members at 6pm. There's no sneaking around it either; they will want to see a wristband to enter shops, restaurants, rides etc. They're well versed in weeding out those who don't have a party ticket - trust me!

Q: What's different about MNSSHP compared to a normal park day?
A: They have a myriad of halloween specials to enjoy throughout the evening; from shows, parades and firework specials to exclusive halloween themed food, merchandise, ride overlays, rare character meet and greets and trick or treating locations. Here are this year's parade and show times:


Q: When should I see the parades and shows?
A: This is obviously down to personal preference and other advice out there would suggest seeing later shows as the crowds are usually less. However, given that you often can't rely on Florida weather, I would recommend seeing earlier shows if there's something you really have your heart set on; that way you have the best chance of seeing the show/parade if the weather is looking a bit rainy/stormy (heavy rain and lightening will cancel/delay shows and parades due to cast member safety). There is only one Not-So-Spooky Spectacular fireworks show so make sure you're ready for that at 10.15pm. 

Q: Where can I get halloween candy at MNSSHP?
A: If you collect one of the party maps on entry it shows all the trick or treat locations marked with an orange lolly.


Q: Can I only go through each treat station once?
A: Nope! You're more than welcome to go through the treat stations as many times as you'd like - the cast members won't stop you!

Q: Do they provide a treat bag to keep all the candy in?
A: Yes they do - this year it's an exclusive 50th Anniversary 'Boo To You' bag. They are quite small though so I would recommend taking a backpack with you so you can either put any excess candy in there or you can put your treat bag into your backpack for ease when you go on the rides. 

Q: What candy do they offer at MNSSHP?
A: This year (2022) it seems to be a whole lot of Snickers plus Snickers brownie, Snickers peanut butter, Milky Way, Starburst, M&Ms (3 or 4 different varieties), Skittles and Twix. It does say 'Dove' on the treat stations and they are sponsored by Mars Wrigley but the word is that there have been supply issues with some variations of treats.

Q: Do they cater for allergies at MNSSHP?
A: Yes they do! If you need allergy friendly treats you can pick up a special bag at the first treat station (turn right as you enter the park, don't go down Main Street - it's all very well signposted), then there are special locations around the park marked with a teal Mickey pumpkin head on the map where you can collect special allergy friendly tokens. At the end of the night you can redeem your tokens for allergy friendly treats down Main Street to the left of Guest Services or in Liberty Square behind the Sleepy Hollow quick service location. A word of warning though - it looks like they're a little more 'conservative' with the allergy friendly treats than the regular ones...

Q: Which characters can I meet at MNSSHP?
A: Character meet and greet opportunities aren't clear on the map so just to give you a flavour of where they are this year:
- Jack & Sally at Town Square Theatre
- Halloween Mickey at Town Square Theatre
- Jafar, Jasmin and Genie and Captain Jack Sparrow have been spotted in Adventureland (as well as Abu on occasion!)
- Belle & Gaston, Ariel & Eric, Winnie the Pooh and Friends, Minnie, Donald and Daisy as well as the Queen of Hearts, Alice, the Mad Hatter, Tweedle Dum, and Tweedle Dee can be spotted in Fantasyland
- Stitch and George Sanderson can be found in Tomorrowland
You might notice the absence of the Seven Dwarves which has historically been a really popular meet and greet at MNSSHP but no sign of them this year *sad face*.

Q: Can you meet the Sanderson Sisters at MNSSHP?
A: Unfortunately not - that would be my dream!

Q: What are the must dos at MNSSHP?
A: This, again, is down to personal preference. I would prioritise two or three things that you really want to do - whether that's specific meet and greets or shows/parades and plan your night around those. Be aware that the longest queues will be for character meet and greets - especially Jack and Sally which has been known to reach 4 hours long quite quickly.

Q: Which rides have special overlays at MNSSHP?
A: Pirates of the Caribbean has live actors, Space Mountain is Completely in the Dark, Monster's Inc Laugh Floor is transformed into a treat location with audience interaction as you pass through and Haunted Mansion has live actors in the queue line. 

Q: Are ride wait times low at MNSSHP?
A: Historically yes. I don't remember waiting any longer than 35 minutes for any ride, even things like Seven Dwarves Mine Train which always has a big queue! Most things were a walk on. If you don't have any daytime admission to Magic Kingdom after hours events are a great opportunity to ride some of your favourite rides without some of the hideous wait times which are often in the blazing sun!

Q: Can adults wear costumes at MNSSHP?
A: Yes they can! One of the only occasions that Disney allow this for adults. Click here for more guidance and rules on costumes at MNSSHP

Q: Ultimate question: Is MNSSHP worth the money?
A: It is if you don't have any other day admission to Magic Kingdom because you get to experience the park with lower crowds for 8 hours (4pm-12am) plus all the Halloween extras which is well worth it. The jury is out though if you're buying an after hours ticket on top of daytime admission - I think everyone should experience MNSSHP once if you're a fan of Halloween!

Florida Travel Day - Manchester to Orlando International Airport flying with Virgin Atlantic

We were up bright and early as always but I must admit it was ideal just being able to walk straight out of the hotel into the terminal and not worrying about traffic. As we walked down the Skylink walkway we noticed a humongous queue and I thought 'ooh dear here we go, here's the security line everyone's been talking about' - luckily for us it wasn't, it was the TUI queue. On this occasion the baggage belt had malfunctioned meaning they couldn't check bags in as normal; thankfully Virgin was much quieter so we checked in and off we went to security.

We did pay £5 for the security fast track but it wasn't open so we still had to queue as normal; it took around 45 minutes but the staff were very aware of potential passengers who would miss departures so they kept coming round to ask about departure times which I thought was efficient given the circumstances. 

We went up to Amber Ale House for some breakfast - I had a cooked breakfast (which was underwhelming tbh) and Kev had overnight oats. It was at this point I could see Kev was getting increasingly anxious about the flight. He had never flown long haul before and had only flown twice before so he was really, really worried about it. 

He didn't eat much and requested some time outside so we went out into the smoking area (the only airside outdoor area). I was at a loss to know what to say to him to put his mind at rest because I know what it's like to have a horrendous phobia (I have one about the dentist) but I tried to explain how it would all be worth it in the end. 

About 1.5 hrs of back and forth conversation later Kev suddenly said 'I can't, I can't do it, you're going to have to go on your own'. I tried to reason with him and encourage him to at least look on the plane but he was having none of it so we went to find someone to see what we needed to do as I knew he couldn't exit the terminal on his own; he'd have to be escorted out. 

We were told to go to the Virgin check-in desk where they were getting ready to board and I explained our situation. By this point we were both in tears, the lady said we had to get his bag off which was a slight issue as half my stuff was in there so we would have to repack before putting it back on but she said just hang on a minute let me see if there's any cabin crew available. 

Ade, the cabin manager, came off and literally laid on the floor in front of kev who was sat on a seat and talked him through everything that was worrying. After about 10-15 mins of chatting he invited us to board the plane first to have a look with no obligation to stay on. When we got on he said we could sit wherever there was a space, we were already in premium and decided to keep our original seats as it was the back 2 near the bulk head. Ade also said we could get up and go to the upper class bar whenever as long as the seatbelt sign wasn't on. I feel like at this point Kev pushed himself to stay on the plane; obviously premium is a bit more spacious and there IFE etc. so we sat down and belted up.

After about 20 mins we were ready for take off and as the plane pushed back I cried tears of relief that he had actually got on the plane with me; I'd prepared myself to go alone but obviously it wasn't what I wanted to do at all. The flight was pretty smooth; the food was ok (I had paneer curry which lacked paneer haha) and the IFE was also ok. I started to watch Boiling Point - all the while keeping an eye on kev who didn't eat anything but I encouraged him to keep drinking water. 

About 2.5 hrs into the flight he had a bit of a wobble; the beginnings of a panic attack. So we stood up and went to the upper class bar. I gave him a cuddle and reassured him that he was going to be ok; another lovely member of cabin crew came to help too and got us chatting about something else which really helped. After about 30 minutes he was ready to go back to our seat. 

We had our own personal watch party watching Kingsman and then the afternoon tea came which was lovely; some little sandwiches and a scone. Again, Kev didn't eat a thing but still kept drinking water. After that we got the ipad out and watched Sex and the City 2 the movie; although it's not really Kev's cup of tea I think it was familiar for him because I watch it over and over at home. I do think watching movies 'together' really helped to calm him and keep his mind off the flight. 

By the time we'd finished watching the ipad we were starting to descend. I was so proud of Kev for facing his fear and getting on the plane - I knew it would all be worth it in the end. Ade brought us over a bottle of champagne as a congratulations for Kev completing his first long haul flight which I thought was so lovely - the whole Virgin crew were absolutely amazing! 

When we landed at MCO I had another little quiet cry in the walkway to the terminal; the smell and familiar surroundings just made me realise that I'd finally made it back after 5 years. Security was an absolute breeze - no queues and we had a short wait for the bags. Then it was off on to the monorail into arrivals to wait for our friends Daniel and Jacob to kindly pick us up. 

We arrived at our hotel the Wyndham Orlando Resort iDrive at around 5pm. I have to say I was quite underwhelmed by the room; it was tired and in need of an update but it was fine - it was a bed. We decided to go over to Giordanos for some food which was absolutely amazing (we had the sharer starter and shared a classic chicago deep dish pizza) and made our way back to the hotel for another early night ready for our first park day in Hollywood Studios!

Home Safety: How To Make Your Home Safe

collaborative post
Making your home safe is one of the most important things you can do to protect your family. There are several steps you can take to make your home less dangerous and more secure. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most important ways to make your home safe. We will cover topics such as fire safety, childproofing, and security measures. You can help keep your loved ones safe from harm by following these tips.

Smoke Alarm and Fire Extinguisher 
One of the most important ways to make your home safe is by installing a smoke alarm. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that can be produced by burning fuel. It is odorless and colorless, so you may not know it is there until it is too late. A smoke alarm can help save lives in the event of a fire. It is also essential to have a fire extinguisher in your home. Then, if a fire does break out, you will be able to put it out quickly and safely. You can also research some top tips for a fire-resistant bathroom and other areas in your home and implement them. 

Light it Up
Another way to make your home safe is by keeping it well-lit. Ensure all entrances and exits are well-lit and consider adding motion detector lights near doors and windows.

Securing Valuable Items 
You can make your home safer by securing valuable items. For example, keep expensive jewelry and electronics hidden away, or install a safety deposit box to store them in. If burglars can see valuable items through your windows, they may be tempted to break in. 

Another way to keep your family safe is by childproofing your home. You can do many things to childproof your home, such as installing safety gates and covers on electrical outlets. You should also keep dangerous objects like knives and chemicals out of reach of children.

Case of an Emergency Plan 
It is also essential to have a plan in place in case of an emergency. For example, you should know how to get out of your home if there is a fire and where to go if there is an earthquake or another disaster. You should also have a list of emergency numbers, such as the police, fire department, and ambulance, handy in case you need them.

Get to Know Your Neighbours
Neighborhood watch programs are a great way to deter crime. Get to know your neighbors and be on the lookout for suspicious activity.