Monday, 16 December 2013

The Great Christmas Gift Guide, 2014

If, like me, you're busy buying gifts for family and friends and need a little inspiration.... behold, The Great Christmas Gift Guide, 2014 is here.

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I hope there is something for everyone in there! Best of all, this can be ordered online - so no more crowded shops, long queues or sore feet, just the comfort of your own sofa.

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The Diptyque Christmas candle - a stocking filler that makes your home smell of Christmas

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For any chilli lover, Da Bomb hot sauce is THE BOMB of all hot sauces. You can get it in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Amazon.

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My mother in law is a keen gardener, so for any green fingered friend, this personalized trug might come in handy

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Backbeat2 wireless earphones. Nothing is more awkward than getting tangled up mid lunge. Designed for the fitness fanatic, these are sweat-proof and allow you to take calls, watch films and listen to pumping beats while working out.

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Either way, this matt is perfect for a sister or girlfriend who likes a snooze or a yoga class

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Uniqlo men's jumpers, with cashmere and wool at very reasonable prices these are great for both boys and girls.

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If your mum is like mine, she loves a good bath. Who can blame her, she spends her days looking after my crazy family. These Jo Malone oils are a fantastic gift.

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Glamping! This summer I had a weekend glamping in yurts with my girlfriends - it was the best weekend ever. Log fires, cava, marshmallows and sleeping bags! Take inspiration from Canopy & Stars (comfortable camping) and this, is a tree tent (!) which you sleep in while dangling from a tree

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A curl up blanket, this shop has the best set of blankets and quilts to curl up in.

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This book is full of beautiful letters. I have a friend reading it at the moment, she reads one letter a day.

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Something to buy now and make for next year! Sloe Whiskey. My best friend has just told me about this... I cant wait to try it! And here is the ultimate kit to make it with.

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The Lonely Christmas tree a bedtime story to get the little nippers off to sleep before Santa arrives...

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Soft, gentle and lovely, these JoJo Maman Bebe comforters are used by my own niece and godson. Their mum swears by  them.

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The Alexandra McQueen scarf - will this ever go out of fashion?

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The BEST measuring cup by Anthropologi for the baker of the household

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For the teenager in the household, these rock. I had a pair when I was 13 and pleased to see them back in fashion.

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The coffee machine was a new arrival to our kitchen this year - it's been a real win. This one comes from John Lewis, but there are cheaper options here and here

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The Guardian have rounded up a list of Charity Christmas Gifts - why not give big?

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Every blogger is in need of a good diary... a portable charger and some followers

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The ULTIMATE tote - for school, uni, work, gym or school run

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I have a real thing for Bumble bees.

Friday, 13 December 2013

A Christmas Market on the Southbank

Each year a fun festive German market pops up on the South Bank, full of knick knacks, crafts and of course copious amounts of mulled wine, this is the real deal for a Christmassy afternoon out.

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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Ameretti and ginger nut chocolate fridge cake

Chocolate fridge cake is good at any time of the year, but with a little festive twist, this wonder cake can magically turn into a CHRISTMAS fridge cake. It is the BOMB!

One day, wondering around Whole Foods on Kensington high street, I spied an Amaretti fridge cake sitting quietly on the shelf - it.looked.divine.

Hurrying home I picked up a packet of amaretti and ginger nut biscuits (total cost £2) and prepared to bake! This is a Christmas find worth sharing...

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Using the base of the Hummingbird Bakery's fridge cake recipe I swapped in amaretti biscuits, ginger nuts and glacier cherries to whip up a christmassy concoction. It's delicious!

250g butter
150ml  golden syrupp
150g mini amaretti biscuits
75g coco powder
50g ginger nut biscuits
a tub of glacier cherries
3-4 handfuls of raisins

Melt the butter, golden syrup and coco powder slowly on the medium to low heat, occasionally giving it a stir.

Place all your biscuits, raisins and cherries into a big mixing bowl and give them a good mix, breaking up the ginger nuts into smaller pieces.

When the syrup, butter and coco powder has formed a delicious thick dark chocolately sauce, pour into the bowl of biscuits and stir through. Make sure it is even throughout.

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Line a roasting tin with baking paper and add your biscuity mix, spread evenly and cover with another sheet of baking paper. Place jam jars or a large dish on top to flatten the mixture down. Leave to cool for half an hour and then put inside the fridge to set.

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Once cold and solid, and if you're feeling fancy, melt down some dark chocolate and drizzle over the top.

Cut into big chunky slices (it's Christmas) and serve up.

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Monday, 9 December 2013

The Christmas tree!

Once upon a time there was a Christmas tree sitting quietly by the side of the road. A few days before he'd been happily dozing under the sunshine in the Christmas tree forest along with all his other friends. Then one day, he was suddenly tugged out of the earth and popped into the back of a lorry before winding up on the verge of a busy residential road in West London.

The Christmas tree wasn't sure what to make of it all, but he was feeling rather glum. For a few days he sat and watched people come and go, looking him up and down, whispering about how green or bushy he was. The Christmas tree began to feel very self conscious - he wasn't very big and he wasn't very tall. 

Then one day, on a sunny Sunday two strange ridiculous people walked past. They were looking for a medium sized tree, not too bushy, not too small but just right. The Christmas tree decided he liked the sound of them and especially the look of the girls red woolly hat.

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So he puffed himself up as large as he could go, rustled his leaves, popped out his pines and stood up tall and handsome.

"Aha" said the man, "this cracker does just the trick". Before he knew it, the tree found himself being picked up, wrapped up and uncomfortably lugged all the way to these mad people's home!

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Inside (yes, inside! What was the world coming too, a tree inside?!) the tree was popped into a little container and strung with lights. It was all very scary and nerve racking. 

He was then covered with plenty of gold, red and silver ball balls, funny decorations and a fuzzy star was placed on his tallest branch. That was ok, because it made him look even taller.

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Finally, the lights went on and the Christmas tree glowed (from the inside outwards). He felt very proud and with a selection of presents sitting under him, the tree took up his role to brighten up Christmas and keep an eye on all those presents until Christmas day!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Winter's morning

WOW! What a sunrise!

The other night it froze hard. The stars were out, the moon was shining and a thick frost spread across the countryside.
As the sun rose and sunlight flooded into my bedroom, there was nothing for it but to throw on some wellies and wrap up warm to venture outside.

Glistening under the morning light, the country slowly woke up. The corn fields glowed red under the pink sky, the big oak stretched its branches and dusted itself down while the rusty gate creaked open.
The haybales had been coated with sparkles, the leaves dusted with ice and the hedgerows, nipped by jack frost, slowly defrosted.

Walking through the fields, seeing your breath in the air, hearing geese fly overhead (something that chokes me every time I see them) and watching the dogs run across the stubble before heading home for hot coffee and to start the day at work. Lucky I was working from home that day!


























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