• Christmas,  General

    Where do you shop for children’s toys at Christmas?

    I remember the thrill of being given the Argos catalogue at Christmas every year by my parents. I think they took the approach that Argos was a great one-stop shop that would sort my Christmas pile out nicely. As the youngest child and the only girl, the mountain of gifts was always impressive. Funnily enough, my most memorable toy was the doll’s house my Dad’s best friend Colin made for me. He was a joiner so it was well done and then his sisters had fun decorating it. Ah Christmas memories … These days I am more likely to shop at Argos by using their website which is easy to…

  • Christmas,  Food and drink

    Christmas Stained Glass Cookies Recipe

    Stained glass cookies recipe Stained Glass Cookies Delicious buttery biscuits, with edible sweetie stained glass. These edible decorations make the perfect gift and are ideal for hanging on the tree. Great for getting the kids involved, all you need are clean hands and a little imagination! A magical treat to enjoy at Christmas. Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 10 minutes Makes 10-15 biscuits Ingredients 220g butter, softened 100g Whitworths for Baking Light Soft Brown Sugar 350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting 1 tsp ground ginger or cinnamon 50g Whitworths for Baking Crunchy Demerara Sugar A selection of fruit-flavoured boiled sweets in different colours To decorate 50g Whitworths for…

  • Christmas,  General

    5 Great gift ideas for men

    Many of us find selecting gifts for men a challenge. As women, our tastes can be very different and it is hard for us to get inside our men’s heads. To make matters worse, getting them to actually communicate what they would love can be an uphill battle. So if you want to treat a man in your life but don’t know where to start, here are 5 great ideas for men’s gifts that should help put a huge smile on his face. Watch Isn’t it great to see the return of watches on wrists? I think there was a period where we thought our mobile phones would do when…

  • Christmas,  General

    5 tips for a perfect Christmas

    How do you have the perfect Christmas? That is what we are all asking ourselves at this time of year. The television tries to tell us how to do it in a certain way often with mixed messages even within the same programme. Your perfect Christmas might include dinner on Christmas Day in Cheshire or even a trip overseas. We are all different and today I am sharing my ideas on a perfect Christmas or at least a good enough one. Christmas breakfast We plan so much food for Christmas and yet often forget all about breakfast in the rush to get to the piles of presents. You could just grab toast but…

  • Christmas,  Food and drink

    Chocolate mince pie muffins

    A chocolate mince pie is a brand new idea for me but I tried it and even the children who normally hate mince pies were begging for me to make another batch. Chocolate mince pie muffins This delicious twist on the classic mince pie will have your guests reaching for more     Makes 10 Prepare 10 minutes Cook 15 minutes   Ingredients: 225g plain flour ¾ tsp baking powder ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda ¼ tsp sea salt 80g Tate & Lyle caster sugar 1 egg, beaten 130ml whole milk 50g Rachel’s Organic Greek Style Natural Yogurt 30g Country Life Unsalted Butter, melted ½ lemon, zest ½ orange, zest…

  • Charity,  Christmas

    Christmas goodwill to warm your heart

    Christmas goodwill is my favourite part of the festive season outside my own family celebrations. I love how everyone gives their time and attention in a more generous-spirited way. I see people reaching out to help others and more forgiveness too. I love how  charities benefit from unexpected donations at this time of year. I asked bloggers to share times when such goodwill made a big difference to their lives. “My friends doing the pick up and the drop of the my kids when I am in need. They are such stars. I will never forget” www.ethannevelyn.com   “I worked in America doing door to door sales one summer when…

  • Christmas,  Food and drink

    Campari and gin cocktail

    Today I am sharing a Campari and gin cocktail with the rather intriguing name of Winter Aviation. It includes gin which I know so many of my readers have as a tipple combined with Campari which my brother-in-law adores and lovely cassis. Campari and gin cocktail     Serves one. Ingredients   40ml Bombay Sapphire Gin Juice of 1 clementine 10ml British Cassis 5ml Campari Cherry to garnish Method Shake the ingredients well over ice. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry. Do you have an unusual recipe for a Campari and gin cocktail?  

  • Christmas

    Dreaming of a White Christmas?

    Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Now the first thing to say is that for most of us the next line in that famous festive song “Just like the ones we used to know” does not make any sense. Was every Christmas of our childhood a white one or is that a myth? You now enter the tricky world of how different people define a White  Christmas differently some saying one snowflake is enough, some saying the Met Office is relevant and some wanting a proper covering on the ground. I remember a lovely White Christmas in London with my brother walking in the parks on a crisp and…

  • Christmas,  Food and drink

    Scotch cakes with hot-smoked salmon

    Scotch cakes with hot-smoked salmon, crispy sprouts, avocado and egg makes an amazing festive indulgence. Cooking shredded brussels until they’re crispy will convert even the wariest of sprout-eaters Scotch cakes •Preparation time:10 minutes •Cooking time:15 minutes •Total time:25 minutes Serves: 4 Ingredients 100g self-raising flour 25g caster sugar ½ tsp fine sea salt 40ml whole milk 6 eggs, 2 beaten 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling 200g Brussels sprouts, outer leaves discarded and thinly sliced 2 garlic cloves, crushed 2 tsp unsalted butter 1 avocado, halved and sliced 160g hot-smoked salmon, flaked 4 tbsp Greek yogurt Small handful flat leaf parsley leaves Method 1.…

  • Christmas,  Food and drink

    Mulled cider recipe

    Mulled cider might be a new concept to you but I have a recipe that I really would urge you to try this Christmas. Mulled pear cider Serves 12.   2L Waitrose pear cider Juice of 6 clementines 500ml pomegranate juice 400ml dark rum 100ml sugar syrup 2 tbsp honey 3 star anise 1 tbsp whole cloves 1 tbsp caster sugar Fresh mint to serve   Bring all the ingredients to the boil in a saucepan. Turn down the heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Ladle into glasses, garnish with fresh mint leaves and slices of caramelised clementine. Check out more festive drinks ideas and add a little sparkle to…

  • Christmas,  Food and drink

    Mulled gin recipe

    If you are looking for a mulled gin recipe to spice up your Christmas, try Mulled sloe gin with toffee Mulled gin recipe Serves 8. • 1L apple juice • Juice of 4 lemons • 2 cinnamon sticks, plus extra to garnish • 2-3 Waitrose dairy toffees • 6 dashes Angostura Bitters • 2 oranges, halved and sliced • 300ml sloe gin • Cranberries to garnish How to make Combine the apple juice lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, toffees and Angostura Bitters in a large saucepan. Gently simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the orange slices and sloe gin. Garnish with cranberries and cinnamon sticks. So who will…

  • Christmas,  Food and drink

    Mulled apple and ginger recipe

    I really fancy serving up this mulled apple and ginger recipe over Christmas. Serves 12. • 2L cloudy apple juice • 2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, sliced into thin strips • 2 ripe pears, sliced • 2 cinnamon sticks • 4 juniper berries • 3 tbsp Demerara sugar • Juice of 4 limes, zest of 2, plus extra limes to garnish Put all the ingredients except one of the pears in a large saucepan. Simmer until the sugar dissolves. Ladle into glasses, garnish with the remaining sliced pear, lime slices and extra lime zest. What festive drinks will you be serving up this Christmas?

  • Blogging,  Christmas

    My Kind Of Christmas – The Christmas Tag

    Christmas is nearly here and I am looking forward to a gentle and peaceful one this year because that’s my kind of Christmas mixed with a few frolics of course. To get myself in the festive spirit, I am taking up the lovely Christmas tag and thank Claire from The Pramshed blog for thinking of me. My first Christmas was spent in a children’s home of the convent variety so here is my first Christmas picture as far as I know just after my adoptive parents brought me home and when I was not yet officially theirs. Looks wise it could only get better! What’s your favourite Christmas movie? I…

  • Christmas,  Looking after yourself

    Surviving Christmas with the Menopause by Dr Rosy Fazzi

    The menopause is often thought of as ‘the last taboo’, trailing behind many other health and wellbeing issues when it comes to something that is spoken about openly. In fact, the menopause is something that up to 50% of UK women are too embarrassed to talk about at all, even with their GPs. But it is imperative that we talk, that we open the dialogue surrounding the menopause; it’s something that every woman will experience and we need to create greater visibility surrounding the symptoms and the triggers of the menopause, some of which I want to discuss in this blog post. The menopause can be a distressing time for…

  • Christmas

    How to make your Christmas tree last longer

    How to make your Christmas tree last longer is an issue ever festive season. They’re one of the biggest parts of any Christmas, but is there anything worse than having a wilting tree in your living room after just a couple of weeks?   Did you know that with good care and maintenance, a Christmas tree could last you well over a month? Here are the top tips from gardening experts Greenhouse Sensation for keeping your tree looking perky and fresh long after the presents have been opened.   Choosing your tree   The very best way to keep your tree looking alive for longer is to pick a good…