29 Nov 2013

Love it: Wonderful Gift Wrap

Oh my goodness, I do love a bit of gift wrapping, it is seriously my favourite part of giving and receiving gifts! I literally can't wait for our Gift Wrap workshop next month. I have a whole Pinterest Board dedicated to my love of wrapping. I am always collecting up bits and bobs to use to wrap gifts - stickers, sparkles, ribbons you name it. 

Are you a gift wrap addict like me, or do you hate having to wrap all your Christmas presents? 
Sammy xxx

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28 Nov 2013

Love it: Christmas Adverts

photo courtesy of www.wallaceandgromit.com
As Sammy mentioned on Tuesday, it appears everyone around us is getting in the Christmas spirit! Brands have been thinking about this Christmas since January and beyond - always gearing up for the next season! 

Some people know it's time to get all Christmassy when they see the coca cola advert on telly! It used to be all about the R Whites advert when I was growing up, but that was much nearer the big day than the adverts seem to come out now.

There are so many amazing adverts that have come out so far this year and so I thought it would be good to showcase some of my favourites - so far!

By now you must have seen the John Lewis Advert, apparently sales in John Lewis have gone up massively since the advert came out, so someone is definitely watching it!

Battle of the Christmas adverts: Which one's the best?
photo courtesy of http://www.creativereview.co.uk/
This link leads to the making of the advert, which is just amazing.  It was made using 2D and 3D animation techniques and just goes to show what can be done with a little imagination.

I love this Baileys advert as it gives a different spin on the Nutcracker - one of the Ballet's I need to go and watch.  I love the Moulin Rouge feel of the ad.

Sainsbury's have used real people to show what Christmas is to each of us and used Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald, (of The Last King of Scotland fame) not too shabby.

It also just shows how different people celebrate Christmas, but that what's it's all about is family and friends.

Cadbury's have done their first ever Christmas advert - I know amazing hey!  This one is so good as who wouldn't want to unwrap everything you own!

It seems the Famous Grouse is not a fan of Z-list celebrities!  You have to love the famous grouse ads as they have taken over from R Whites with the waiting to see what they do this year!

I love to see what the brands get up to for their adverts and there always seems to be something extra special about the Christmas versions. 

What's your favourite advert this Christmas or even just another other time of year?  I love the really clever ads, like the Honda one a few years ago where it was lots of car parts on a domino effect.

I'm off to wait for the R Whites advert!
H

27 Nov 2013

Make it. Felt Photo Decorations

H came up with this cute Christmas D.I.Y. when we were thinking of something to make for all our friends who have had babies over the past year. She wanted to make a little something for all our new mum friends that they can hang on their Christmas tree, a little different than the usual 'baby's First Christmas' decorations that you find in the shops. So the result was these cute photo decorations. I don't' have any kids so I filled mine with pics of my loves, I even had one spare for Channing Tatum! 


You will need:
Scissors, Felt, Embroidery threads, Needle, Scraps of ribbon, White card, Pencil and marking pen and the photos you want to use

Take something round to use as a template to draw around, I used the inside of my Sellotape reel and draw a circle onto your card. 

Cut out your card with your paper scissors.

Take your felt and cut three layers big enough to comfortably fit your template on. Use your template to mark your felt a little larger than your card, then cut out all three layers where you have marked.  


Take two layers and put your card between them. With the third layer cut out a scoop at the top (that will be where you insert your photo) and the aperture for your photo to sit in, you can see I cut mine in a heart shape.

Use your embroidery thread to stitch around the edge of your aperture, I used running stitch, but you could also use blanket stitch.

 Pop your ribbon scrap in-between the two back layers to create a hanging loop.

 Pop all your layers together and stitch all the way around the edge to hold all the layers together. The closer to the edge you can go the bigger the photo you will be able to fit inside. 

I printed off some of my instagrams onto normal white paper and placed them into each of the decorations I made. 

This one of Steve and I fits so well in the heart aperture.

These are so easy and fun to make, you could make them with your kids, for your friends, or like me make a set for yourself with all the people you love in them. If you are making them as a gift you could embroider a little message on the other side, like a date or a name to make it extra personal. You can hang them on the tree or make a 'family tree' garland to hang up over your fireplace. 

I think they are adorable and will be making a set for my niece this year too.

What decorations are you planning on making this year? 
H and Sammy xxx

Don't miss a thing

26 Nov 2013

Top Ten Tips for Feeling Festive

This time next month it will be Boxing day, Scary or what! I'm not a person who need to be forced into thinking Christmassy thoughts, pretty much from the 1st of September I'm already planning my Christmas tree theme for the year, but I know some people find it hard to even think about Christmas before November is over. If you are finding it hard to get into the Christmas spirit here are my ten tips for kick-starting all those fuzzy festive feelings.

1. Plan a Christmas meal with Friends.
Every year our girls meet up for a Christmas meal, it is always a highlight for me as I don't get to go to a work Christmas do because it would just be me and Mum, so we do that on Christmas day. It's really lovely to meet up with our girls and have a catch up and a giggle. It's a nice excuse to get dressed up, Oh and there is always wine...lots of wine!

2. Shop for festive food.
In my opinion a Terry's chocolate orange is not just for Christmas, I love comfort food and I love it when all the Christmas flavoured goodies and party foods are available in the supermarkets. Anything orange or mint flavoured, Hot chocolate, Sausages in bacon, lindt chocolate reindeer, chocolate logs, mince pies, Christmas cake, gingerbread men, You name it, it's on my shopping list as soon as it hits the shelves! Mr Kipling sent us some of their festive treats recently and the Winter Whirls are just delightful! If you like cinnamon-y ginger treats you will love them.

3. Head to a department store Christmas decorations department.
I always love my yearly trip to London especially to visit Liberty's, Harrods, Selfridges' and John Lewis' Christmas departments. It is always guaranteed to get me feeling festive. I don't always buy anything, but it is great for getting ideas for decorations.

4. Plan Your Christmas Day Meal
If you are hosting a Christmas day meal (like I am this year) then plan that one, but if you are heading to family for the day, plan a separate festive meal for yourself and your best friend/ boyfriend/ husband. Steve and I always have a special meal on Christmas eve, just the two of us, I go all out, cook his favourite meal, decorate, and we get to open one small present from each other. If your not up for cooking, get a special takeaway or go out to a nice restaurant, make an evening just for you.

5. Shop for and write your Christmas cards.
I hand-make Christmas cards for family and close friends but for people living further away I will buy some. I make sure I get them early and write them right away so they are ready to post come December the 1st, this means I get the best choice of cards in the shops and it leaves me time for other things come December. 

6.Visit a Christmas market.
I Love a good Christmas market and there are loads, all over the country to take your pick from. H and I are heading to Bath this year and I am really excited as I haven't been there for ages. It's a nice reason to visit a town you haven't been to before. Check out christmasmarkets.com for one in your area, or an area you want to visit, why not make a weekend of it?


7. Go Ice skating.
I Love Ice skating, especially at this time of year, it is great fun, even if you are not very good at it. There are loads of indoor and outdoor temporary rinks put up all over the UK, but especially in London. Head over to Time out's site to check out where and when you can get your skates on.

8. Make an advent calendar 
Get your craft on! There are so many great ideas for making your own advent calender floating around sites like Pinterest, get some inspiration and get making.  Surrounding yourself with all things sparkly is a great way to get into the spirit.  If you don't want to make one for yourself or you don't have kids, make one for a friends children like the girls at A Beautiful Mess did.

9. Visit some spectacular Christmas lights.
When I was young my Dad used to drive us up to London to see the Christmas lights, one year we went all the way to Blackpool for the weekend to see the illuminations. I am going to stay in London late this year on my decoration shopping trip just to take a look at the Christmas lights and shop window decorations on Oxford Street. This is one thing sure to get the festive feelings flowing! 

10. Bake some Christmas treats.
there is nothing like the smell of Christmas baking, if you are not great at it, cheat like I do. Most supermarkets now sell ready-made gingerbread dough, just roll out, cut into shapes and bake!

I hope these tips have given you some good ideas to get your festive motivation going.
I would love to hear how you get in the Christmas spirit, let me know in the comments below.
Sammy xxx

25 Nov 2013

Link for the week: ASOS

Now, this might be hard to believe but this month I made my first ever ASOS purchase!  I know.

I have been meaning to buy from them for a long while, but just haven't done it for some reason.  I have heard good and bad things about some of the quality of the clothes and I suppose that has put me off as I am really lazy and hate having to send things back.

My first experience was good though as I bought the two dresses above and they are great.  Both good quality and fit right, bonus.


They always have great sales and the dress on the left went in the sale 3 days after I bought it which was a little annoying, but I love it so much that I don't mind too much!

Go check out the site and see if you can get a bargain!

Love it
H

23 Nov 2013

Workshop: Gift Wrap

Our last Craft Club at Norden Farm is going to be one of Sammy's favourites, Gift wrapping!
You can book up now on the Norden Farm website

Thursday 12th December
7pm – 8.30pm
Make it: Creative Gift Wrapping - £15.00
All Materials Supplied.
Come and learn some creative wrapping techniques for this year’s present list.  You can bring up to 3 gifts to wrap and we will show you some simple and effective ways to make your presents look really special. 
Come 'Make it' with us.

H & Sammy

22 Nov 2013

Dreaming of my very own... Handbag Collection

When I say Handbag 'collection' I don't mean a collection  of handbags, I have lots already. What I mean is a line of bags designed by me for sale in retail shops and boutiques. I am a handbag addict, I think it is something to do with the fact that one size fits all, no awkward dressing room moments or disappointments.


I have always liked the idea of a designer handbag but I am to fickle and like to change my bag too often so can never justify the cost. I have a lot of mid priced bags, I love River Island and Accessorize bags the most, I think because of the detailing they use.  I do own one designer handbag, it's from Burberry and it was a present for my 21 st birthday. I have only used it twice, mostly because it was in the early 2000's and fake Burberry tartan was everywhere which put me off using it back then. These days it just looks a little dated, but I will never get rid of it, It will come back in t fashion one day!

My design

The bag I made from my design

Back to my little dream... As well as my High Street collection of bags, I make and customise my own. My dream would be to collaborate with a High Street store and design my own range of Handbags. I often find myself doodling designs when I am on the phone, I have a whole book full of ideas.

It is good to dream big!

have a lovely weekend.

Sammy xxx

21 Nov 2013

5 Things I hate about ... Reality TV

Time for 5 things I hate about and this time its all about Reality TV! 

This is definitely going to be one that divides, but for me, for the most part I just can't stand the ups and downs, the real or the fake and the really really annoying characters!  I just don't want to sit down on an evening and see people bitching, here them badly sing or talk about their 'oh how annoying is it when the little people don't understand' lives.

I have many conversations with my friends in which I have no idea who they are talking about - although sometimes this is not exclusively to reality TV stars. Sammy is my 'who are these people?' version of IMDB.  Also the further these celebrity reality shows go on the less of a celebrity you have to be!  
  
In which case, I thought this would have to be in my 5 things I hate about series.

1.  People who want to be famous - You know the ones, the ones where all they do is do things to get noticed rather than what they are on there to do in the first place.  What ever happened to people getting noticed for being good at something, rather than hanging out at a nightspot.

2.  No one needs to see that.  I don't need to see anyone eating bugs or going to the toilet and I especially don't need to see people flirting with someone they shouldn't.  It just makes me cringe, its car crash TV and the people in it don't even have personalities to keep them going.

3.  It takes over the TV.  You can't watch other programmes without there being something reality TV on in the adverts or your show you like being moved so that they can schedule it in.  Every time I see Big Brother advertised I wonder when they will stop.  I do remember seeing the very first series as it was new and I was slightly nosier in my younger age, but now its just boring and the same and they are mean.  I am just not that interested in seeing how people get annoyed with each other with little food/sleep - I have seen that with previous housemates!

4.  People think they are their friends.  There are conversations about the people in the show as if they know them.  They talk about these people as if its real in their own life.  I get confused and have to ask lots of questions.  But I am not really that interested and so it doesn't stay in my brain - useless info just gets chucked out of the brain space.

5.  One for everyone (apparently) - there are so many shows now.  Some for people who live in; Essex, California, New York or even the valleys of Wales.  Are these people really indicative of the people who live there - I hope not!  I would hate to come from the area in which was being portrayed as I am sure they hate to be judged on the TV show alone.

Now I know that lots of people put there like Reality TV and I am not saying you shouldn't, I'm just saying that I don't like it.  I would rather watch a documentary - call me a nerd, but its a reality TV of sorts I guess.

Just off to avoid the spin-offs from each of the shows.
H

20 Nov 2013

Michelle Makes: Honeycomb

Everyone is already talking about Christmas, so I thought I would share with you a super fun and easy treat that you can adapt for the children or the grown-ups in your life, for sharing over the holidays or packaging up and giving as gifts.

This really is such a fun easy treat to make that you might never buy another Crunchie in your life!
The ingredients are simple, all you need is caster sugar, golden syrup and bicarbonate of soda.
You could also do with a sugar thermometer for this one, but it’s not essential.

So start by weighing out 100g of caster sugar in your pan and add 4 tablespoons of golden syrup.  My that stuffs sticky!!

Mix it together to form a paste.


Then on a very low heat, bring the mixture to the boil slowly.

Let it bubble away gently like this for about 3–4 minutes until the mixture reaches the soft boil stage (112-115c on a sugar thermometer) or drop a tiny amount in a bowl of cold water, (if you can squish it flat, then it’s ready).

At this stage add 1.5 tsp of bicarbonate of soda to the mixture, take it off the heat and give it a couple of stirs. It will froth up pretty quickly so don’t get scared!

I am glad that I got this in shot because it was a pretty quick frothing moment!

Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and leave it to set for a couple of hours.

At this stage I wanted to make my honeycomb for the children a bit more fun and playful so I added some marshmallows and jelly tots to it straight away so that they set in the mixture and poured a little chocolate over it.

When the mixture has hardened, you can just break it up into pieces with your hands.

This is where I decorated my pieces for the grown-ups! I did some covered in a drizzle of chocolate like this:

Quite pretty.

And for the ones below, I wanted a nice sophisticated look, so I dipped the thin pieces in chocolate and playing with the gold packaging of a Crunchie, I added a few little edible gold balls for a nice ‘posh afternoon tea’ effect.
What do you think ?

You can add anything you like at this stage – be creative! I tried some edible glitter on a few of mine.

So if you have any left, (I had eaten about 5 by now) then why not package them up in clear cellophane bag, add some Christmas ribbon and voila, some lovely Christmas Handmade Honeycomb !

I really hope you enjoyed this post and do give it a go, it’s a lot easier than you think and really quite addictive to make and even more so to eat!

Thank you so much for reading xxx

19 Nov 2013

Love it. Hot Chocolate

There is something so special about the first time I reach past the tea bags in favour of something a little sweeter for my evening hot beverage. The effort I go to with a hot chocolate is an autumn tradition, I like mine with hot milk (almond milk) so it takes more preparation than just boiling the kettle, I kind of like the extra time it takes, making it feel special. As winter has kicked in and lasts until about April I thought I would branch out and try some new flavours that will keep me going until the spring.

 I am a big fan of salty/sweet flavours, so when I spotted this Marks and Spencer's Salted Caramel sauce it was straight in my shopping basket. Aside from dolloping it all over my ice cream in the summer I thought it would make a great addition to a basic hot chocolate - I normally use Cadbury's drinking chocolate. It tasted amazing, especially with my favourite giant pretzels. 

 My other go-to choice is Options sachets, they have some great flavour choices, my favourite is the Caribbean coconut, but for a change I tried the chocolate mint (H's fav) and jazzed it up with a peppermint candy cane, whipped cream and some sugar snowflakes (I had to eat this with a spoon). So perfect for Christmas!

The best things about Options are that they are low in calories (excluding the whipped cream of course), They come in handy sachets so if you aren't keen on a flavour you haven't wasted a whole jar and they are often on 5 for £1 in supermarkets, so you can experiment to your hearts content. I am looking forward to trying jazzy ginger next. 



Another new addition to the cupboard was another M&S find Hasslacher's Hot Drinking Chocolate which is a solid cocoa block which you melt in a pan before adding milk and water. It was pricey but you do get lots of cups per pack, way more than a jar of powdered chocolate.

I really liked the flavour of this one, it is definitely for those who like their chocolate on the rich, slightly bitter side, I sweetened mine with some brown sugar to my taste and a sprinkle of coco powder. 

One of the Options flavours I knew I could invest in a jar of was White Chocolate, my Steve loves white chocolate so I knew this one would be a hit... (this is the only cup of it I had and it's now run out and I have been ordered to buy more).  I enjoyed (my one cup) with mini marshmallows and a side order of Mr Kipling's Frosted Fancies, a match made in heaven!

This last one is technically not hot 'chocolate' per se, it is hot 'peanut butter' trust me if you like peanut butter you will adore this drink. It is a warm, creamy delight.

Peanut Hottie is my new favourite drink, I want to buy shares in this stuff, breathe in the smell every hour of the day, I would bathe in it if I could.  I enjoyed mine with a Reese's Peanut butter cup, which you'd think would be over kill... not in my book!

What is your favourite winter warming drink of choice? Let me know in the comments below.
Sammy xxx

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