Getting Away During The Festive Madness.

How are we just three days away till Christmas 2014 already? I remember last Christmas like it was last week! It seems hard to think that nearly 12 whole months have passed by already, and soon we will be there again on the 25th of December, opening presents whilst listening to Christmas songs and smelling the turkey cook away!

This year, more then ever I've really felt the strain of Christmas, not due to money, but everything really! I lost my Grandmother in March, and this will be the first Christmas without her here with us. I'm 24 years old, so effectively I've had 24 years with my Grandmother in my life, to not have her here with us, during a time of year she loved is dawning on me quite badly.

Then there was the house move last month, we're still here and not much better off then when we first moved in! We have luckily been able to get the front room sorted, well there is still finishing touches to be had with that, I've still got to buy the beading for the laminate flooring and there is still one skirting board that needs replacing.

Every year during December I think about getting away and taking the stress out of the big day to make it as enjoyable as possible, a December holiday getaway to Dorset is the ideal version of a perfect Christmas to me! I love Dorset, it's my favourite place to holiday in the UK which is no secret if you've been a reader of Unique Young Mum for some time! I've mentioned my love of Weymouth a few times, and Weymouth of course is in Dorset!

Again, not would I only not have to worry about our living situations, and how I will be able to take some nice Christmas photo's, but I'd also make sure I wouldn't have to cook Christmas dinner! I would spend every single minute of every single hour playing with Spud and his new presents, stopping only to eat dinner that has been cooked for us!

So although I've not booked it just yet, I've been looking at Dream Cottages Dorset, I've found the perfect cottage in the perfect place, but now it's just sorting out dinner and transport! Ideally I'd like it to be just me and Spud, however as I don't drive, I think I might see if a family member is free, after all, who could refuse a December getaway in return for their driving skills?

Are you jetting off this Christmas to take the stress away? Wherever you are, I hope it's a blessed one!

Jada x
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Burnt Skin, No Ice Creams and Water Pressure Problems!

When you move home, everything need's getting use too, like the higher ceilings meaning you need a chair to change a light bulb, whereas at your previous property, you could easily reach. Then there's the boiler, you knew how to work and reset the one at your previous property, but this one, it has a separate water tank, I'm not use to this. You knew how to get the perfect temperature on your old shower, but with the one in your new home, you only know how to get it cold and colder.

There's the plug sockets, at your old home, you had a perfect place for everything, at your new home, you hate the placement of the plug sockets and only wish you was an electrician. At your old home, you knew what days and time the ice cream man would visit, at your new home, you see him twice and never again! At your old home you was happy with the water pressure, and at your new home, the pressure, or lack of it leaves you wanting to scream in frustration!

The very first time I turned on the kitchen tap in my new kitchen, I didn't really think about how the kettle was filling up slower than what I am use too. I had quite a few family members who helped me move, and so I needed to make numerous cups of tea and coffee, it's funny really how we don't notice these things until we're using something different. 

It's like the bathroom at my old place wasn't huge, I wouldn't even say it was medium, it was small, but an okay'ish size, the radiator was behind the door, I had room to have a dance if I wanted too, room to fully sit up in the bath without bending my legs, and room for two bathroom cabinets, decorations, the mop bucket and more. Here, the bathroom is super tiny! The hand basin is so small, you can't even put a bar of soap on it to rest! Spud is even too tall for the bath, and the radiator burns your leg every time you use the toilet!

As I was saying, once I started to use the taps a few more times here on moving day, I started to notice the different pattern of how the water would come out, how it seemed there wasn't enough pressure for the water to freely flow out. Now after living here for four weeks, I was pretty sure things seemed a lot smoother at my old property and so done some research.

Although I had a suspicion anyway, I'm not a professional and didn't want to incur charges on myself without being 100% sure of the ''problem'' if any! Taking the relatively easy test on the Water Pressure Problems (link here) website by using a measuring jug and the stop watch on my phone, my suspicions was soon confirmed, I do have water pressure problems.

All I had to do was turn the ''problem'' tap onto full power, and see how long it took for the water to reach the top of my 2 litre jug. I used a stop watch on my phone as I always get side tracked when counting, plus I never know how big a gap to take between each second! I then entered the time it took for the jug to fill, and how many litres the jug was and I was given a diagnosis in less than two minutes!

This is what I love about the internet, not that I say listen to everything you read online, and I would never suggest trying to fix something yourself but a relativity quick and easy test has confirmed a problem, now I can seek help for my problem, knowing the call out cost won't be wasted!

Have you ever moved home? What did you miss the most about your old property?

Jada x
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Five Potential New Years Eve Plans

I say it every year around this time of year so it's only normal if I say it again this year, but where on earth has the time gone? How have we filled in nearly 12 months already? I won't lie and pretend that I've enjoyed this year, because I haven't. I lost my nanny in April, Spud had two operations and a health scare, I had 12 weeks of hospital treatment myself, and a horrid house move. That's not even including all the little bits of rubbish that's been thrown in during the months too!

There's no other way of seeing in the new year then celebrating at that very time of the new year approaching, and so, to make me feel a little bit happier about waving goodbye to 2014, I've made a list of five potential plans to celebrate new years eve!

1. Bideford’s Family Friendly New Year’s Eve Extravaganza!

It's very hard to get a baby sitter on New Years Eve and besides, I think it's important to see the new year in with your loved ones, for me, Spud is my number one, so I want to be with him when the very first minute of the new year arrives!

2. Surprise Visit To My Mums!

My mum moved over four hours away in March 2013 to Cornwall, I'd love to pack a bag for me and Spud and go celebrate the new year arrival with my mum, little sister and step dad!

3. Night In!

A quiet night in with me and Spud is the norm, we do it every weekend, so I need to think of ways of how to make New Years Eve different. If I go with this plan, I think I'd get some games out, some munch and try to keep him up till midnight!

4. Family Party!

Although my mum, little sister and step dad don't live local anymore, the rest of my family does including my dad, brothers and sisters and my nephews. It would be great to have us all together to welcome a new year for us all after the loss of our nanny - my dad's mother, besides, I can't remember the last time we all celebrated the New Year together as one big family!

5. Stay In and Go To Bed!

Not that I want this to be the plan at all, but if all else fails, it's an option! You never know, waking up on New Years morning with a fresh head may be what I need!

What plans do you have if any for this New Years Eve?

Jada x
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How A Year Can Change Everything!

Many friends in the blogging world, and all my friends and family know me and Spud moved early last month to a new house, a house that is sadly not a home. We left our home, a paradise as such where we knew everything's place, we knew how to work the boiler, we knew how cosy and warm the flat could be, it was clean, it was decorated to our needs, it was everything I worked hard for, it was a flat but it was home.

Christmas Day last year - 2013.
Last Christmas, everything was fine, we had a lovely decorated flat, all our Christmas decorations had a place, along with the tree. My walk in wardrobe was filled to the brim of presents, with me fearing every day of Spud getting curious and opening that cupboard door! Everything was perfect, it was one of the best Christmases ever, now, fast forward 12 months and I'm sat here in our house, it's just that, a house not a home. Not for now anyway!

I feel like one of those first time buyers to be honest with you, I've left our home and have took on a mission, it's not just the case of unpacking our items and possessions, whacking some paint on the walls and settling in. When I say this house needs a lot of work, I'm talking going back to basics, back to the bare wall! In the front room alone, the walls have had to be replastered, skirting boards ripped up and new ones put down, at least three deep cleans, the old radiator being thrown and a new one installed, I've even had to replace the light fittings and this is just the front room!

No flooring could remain, upstairs and on the stairs, the carpets have been ripped up, and the mock laminate flooring in the front room also had to be ripped up, the only flooring that's still in tact at the moment is awful lino tiles in the hallway, which will remain until the beginning of 2015, and the lino in the bathroom and kitchen. I've had a new bath put in, I'm now just waiting for the bath panel to be replaced and I've even had to get the glass on my front door repaired!

I had to get the place fumigated due to cat fleas having a daily feast on Spud, I've had to call in help from as much family as I could, and I've cried, cried lots over all of this. I'm luckily getting a new kitchen sometime in the beginning of the new year, so that's one thing I don't have to worry about at the moment, however, with Christmas just around the corner and Christmas being a big thing in my family, it's fair to say I'm feeling down in the dumps!

I'm just extremely lucky to have amazing friends, family and work contacts around me who has already helped me so much already! I'm not good at DIY, home decorating etc, so to even just have someone gloss a door frame for me, it's so much appreciated!

Hopefully this will explain to you all, why I've been so quiet recently, and why I'm so looking forward to seeing the back of 2014!

Jada x
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Christmas Around The World - Fun DIY Crafts For Kids!

Millions of excited children wake up on Christmas Day to see what goodies Santa has bought them. Yet, different regions around the world have their own unique traditions. Did you know that in German children leave Wellington boots outside of their door for Santa to fill up with gifts? Or that Slovakians fling a bread dough mixture at the ceiling as a way to work out if they will have a successful crop season the following year? Craft projects provide a fun and interactive way to teach little ones about Christmas traditions and customs. From light up Christmas globes to pretty tree toppers, we reveal three simple craft projects that you can make with your child at home.

Light Up Globes

Image via Flickr by JD Hancock

Light up any space in the home with a gorgeous paper mache globe. This inexpensive craft project will educate kids about different geographical locations while also helping to unleash their creative skills. This craft project does take several days to complete, and it is a little messy, but the results are well worth it in the long run.

To create these pretty ornaments at home you will need a balloon, paper mache paste, a shallow container, newspaper cut into 1" strips, a plastic cup, a wooden skewer, tissue paper, a disposable tablecloth, paints, and some Christmas lights. You can buy most items from a craft store, but check out light specialist for lights as they're excellent places to order high quality Christmas lights from.

Protect your workspace with the disposable tablecloth then place the plastic cup on the plate. Inflate the balloon and position the tail of the balloon inside of the cup so that it acts as a holder. Dip the newspaper strips in the glue and lay them over the balloon one by one but leave a small circle around the tail of the balloon so that you can later use it as an opening. Repeat until the entire balloon is covered in newspaper, and then place it in a warm room to dry overnight. Repeat the process the next day with the newspaper strips and leave it to dry overnight again.

Have your children dip strips of newspaper in green or blue paint and then place them on the balloon as if mimicking countries and oceans. You can have an atlas to hand so that your children can see the location of different landmasses; you can also name the different countries and explain their Christmas traditions during this step.

Let the paper mache globe dry overnight again and then give your child a bamboo skewer to let them pierce the balloon by the tail and then poke holes in different major cities around the globe. Insert the Christmas lights through the opening in the bottom of the balloon and voilà, your light up globe is complete!

Christmas Passport

Image via Flickr by hjl
A simple craft project that will help to improve your child's geography knowledge is the Christmas passport. There is no right or wrong with this project but you will want to encourage your child to create a small scrapbook full of maps, stamps, paintings, and drawings. You can print off outlines of countries, flags, and fun facts, and lay out all the required craft materials such as a miniature scrapbook, paints, paintbrushes, and glue. You can also add to this scrapbook throughout the year as a way for your children to document their worldly adventures.

Christmas Tree Toppers

Christmas simply isn't complete without a Christmas tree topper, and what better way to have one than to make it at home with your children? A super stylish, classic, and no-mess design is the cone shaped topper. Help your child to roll some thin card into a cone shape and then allow them to decorate the cone with glitter glue, paints, ribbons, sequins, and any other craft bits and bobs you have in the home.

So there you have it, three fun crafts that will be a joy to make during the festive season.

Happy holidays!
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One Of The Joys Of Working From Home

A lot of people presume I don't work, they presume I am a 'benefit bum' and that I stay at home all day watching TV shows such as Jeremy Kyle. I am however self employed, I work from home, I don't even watch TV a lot and I am lucky enough to be able to miss Jeremy Kyle. It's just I don't wear a uniform, and I don't have to leave my house to work, well unless there are events of course.

Working from home means I don't have to leave Spud with a random child minder that I don't know, or even a child minder that I do know, I don't believe in after school club's, they go to school for long enough, why keep them there for any longer!? As mentioned before in some previous post, I have traits of attachment parenting, I hate being away from Spud and if truth be told I am even debating on whether or not to even keep him in school! I'd love to home educate him!

I hate it that he's away from me for so long, he wake's up, has his breakfast, watches 20 minutes of TV then it's time to get dressed and go to school. I pick him up at 3pm, we come home, he plays with his toys, watches a little bit of TV, if the weather is good we will go to the park or to visit a family member, then it's dinner time, then bath time, then bed time, I feel like he's not mine during the week! 

Trips to the fair without booking time off work!
Working from home is a real bonus, especially during times of the year like now - Christmas, there's no traffic I have to battle through to get to work each morning and there's no over cramped buses or trains full of last minute Christmas shoppers taking up all the spaces and making the journey difficult. 

Then there's also the fact that I don't have to worry about moving away from our hometown to follow work if it should ever relocate, because my work would only relocate if I relocate, and that could be anywhere in the world. I could walk into an estate agents in St. Albans tomorrow if I wanted too, or I could move to be near my mum in Cornwall, I chose where I work, and when I work, so it's completely acceptable for myself and my attachment issues!

Jada x
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What's Around The Corner? No One Knows!

If you're reading this post, it means you're alive, which is great isn't it? No one wants to die, not unless its our time. No one even wants to be feeling ill do they? Tell me one person who enjoys being poorly? I can't say I know anyone who likes feeling different to their usual self, and so we try to look after ourselves as best as we can don't we?

Sometimes though, unexpected things happen in life, accidents for example, and sometimes we just get hit down by the poorly bug. My little cousin was run over three years ago at the age of 15, he was taken to hospital with a suspected broken arm, so how he ended up on a life support machine with half of his body filled with broken bones, swelling and fluid on the brain, two collapsed lungs and even more is a miracle he's here.

The local hospital he was took to via ambulance failed him, so did the paramedic and ambulance technician who attended to him on scene, it was only thanks to the second hospital he was emergency transferred to less just a few hours after the accident that he's here with us now. 

Most of the times, hospital's are brilliant, but like everything, you do hear of the hospital negligence claims and stories, you read them in magazines and watch news reports and documentaries on the television, you even see them in person, with yourself or maybe a loved one, and it's not a nice sight at all.

When you think about it, you trust these people, you trust them with your whole body which is essentially life, so you're basically leaving your life in their hands. We do it because they're the professionals, they're the ones who learnt medical subjects for years, attending university and maybe even medical school, that's how they're hear aren't they. They know if and how to make us better, they look after us when we are really poorly don't they?

Sadly though, sometimes life, and government cut budgets mean patients don't get the quality of care they should receive, and then come the neglect stories. Sometimes, one nurse has seen over 20 patients in any one shift, she's tired from the shift the night before, being a mum means she's only had five hours sleep before she was up and ready for another busy and hard working day.

That nurse, has failed to notice something on a patient's sheet, because life is hectic, maybe even because no fault of her own, but it's still neglect, and her employers should face the complaints and have a procedure in place ready for such reports. However, sometimes their way is not the correct way, and we're not happy, or even satisfied with their response, so we take things further.

Life is too precious, you never know what's around the corner, live each day as if its the last and if you need to complain, go ahead and complain! If someone is not here to do it for themselves, then go ahead and report for them, if it's not the correct level of care, why accept it? These people get paid to do their jobs correctly, and so they should!
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Recipes To Encourage Children To Lead A Healthy Lifestyle

Recipes To Encourage Children To Lead A Healthy Lifestyle

Leading an active lifestyle is second nature to children - they are naturally playful, active and exuberant. Parents can (and should) encourage this activity by joining in, or introducing exercise in their daily activities.

However, it can be difficult to encourage children to eat healthy food. Children are drawn to junk food such as chips, fast food items, and candy. They are also averse to vegetables, particularly leafy vegetable and bitter ones.

One piece of advice is to serve them healthy substitutes for their favorite food items. Here are some recipes to ease in your children to eating vegetable and having a healthy lifestyle:

Fries using butternut squash
Instead of store-bought frozen fries, make your own fries using a butternut squash. One trick to making your kids want to taste something is to let them help in preparing them. Cut the butternut squash in manageable pieces and let your little-one peel the skin using a peeler.

Cut the squash into strips as thick as regular fries. Place them evenly on a tray and sprinkle with some salt and olive oil. Bake in the oven until crispy. Sprinkle with some parmesan cheese or make a garlic dip for it. Of course, a small amount of tomato ketchup will work great as well.

Burger using cheesy broccoli
Broccoli aids in digestion and improves general health. However, because of its leafy green property, some children actively avoid eating it. However, one way of encouraging them to eat it is by making it into a burger patty. Steam some broccoli tops until soft. Place them inside a food processor. Mix with eggs, salt, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil.

Once blended together, scoop a spoonful and roll into balls. Lightly fry in a skillet to make the burger patty. You can serve this as is with some garlic dip or serve with small pieces of bun. Make cheesy garlic dip by mixing finely ground garlic with softened cream cheese and some salt and pepper.

Finger foods using baby carrots
Christmas season is coming near and it’s time to prepare for Christmas dinner. Prepare some finger food using baby carrots. Peel some baby carrots and line them on a tray. Have some cheese warm up to room temperature so it becomes soft and pliable. Slice some thin strips of cheese and place on top of the baby carrots. Season the baby carrots with some salt and olive oil. Bake the carrots in an oven for a few minutes. Remove from the oven once the cheese has melted resembling cheese in cocktail hotdogs. Once cool, serve with ketchup or mayo dip. Even without dip, the baby carrots will taste great because of the cheese.

Crunchy pumpkin spice seeds in exchange for chips
Potato chips are very unhealthy. Let them have a taste of crispy pumpkin seeds while watching TV or lounging around the house instead of giving them chips. To make them, boil some pumpkin seeds in water with a little salt. Drain the excess water and place on a baking tray lined with cookie sheet. Sprinkle with some pumpkin pie spice powder or some cinnamon and allspice. Roast the seeds in an oven for about 300 minutes. Once crispy, take them out of the oven and serve once cooled.

You can get more recipes from www.kraftrecipes.com.
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Christmas Toy Deals For 2014

Christmas has to be the most expensiveness time of the year doesn't it? We're left feeling the pinch as early as June, and for us last minute shoppers, many of us feel the full effect in December and January with little or no funds left in our accounts.

I'm sure you all know by now, I'm from a very big family, I have Spud, five nephews, one niece, six siblings, two parents, two step-parents, brother and sister in-laws, grandparents and lot's of close friends. At least with birthday's, you spread the cost throughout the year, as not everyone's birthday is in one month, let alone one day!

I've always liked to think I shop around and get the best deals and prices for presents that I'm after, especially for Spud as I like his money to go further, even if there is just a few pounds left, that can go towards smaller presents, instead of me paying full price for one of his items, and not saving any money whatsoever.




This year, Spud wrote to Father Christmas and asked for the following five items;

_______________________________________________________

1: Skylanders Trap Team PS3 Starter Set.

Spud has Skylanders Giants and Skylanders Swap Team, so he would love to complete his collection, along with lot's of the new and expensive figures brought out!

2: Disney Infinity 2.0 PS3 Starter Set.

Spud got Disney Infinity (the first edition) within a few weeks of it being released in shops thanks to a review opportunity. Spud's been a Disney fan since he was born, but as he moves away from Mickey, he still loves all his Disney films and Disney Infinity!

3. Lego Chima Mammoth Ice Blast.

This is just the bigger set that I've took from Spud's list, there is about seven Lego products on his list, and this one is the most colourful, most loudest and most appealing on Spud's letter to santa! It has about a 100 please Santa sayings around it!

4: Imaginex Jokers Laff Factory.
(It's how they spell laugh, not me!)

Spud loves all the Imaginex DC Super Hero items, and has most of the characters and Batcave already. He would love this to add to the 'dark' side of his collection! 

5: Teksta Robotic Puppy.

Everyone's been raving about the Teksta puppy, and as I sadly can't let Spud have a real puppy just yet, I wouldn't mind getting some practise in with this robot puppy!
_______________________________________________________


So, as you can see, I have quite a few things that Spud is looking to get this Christmas, I've told him we may have to wait until his birthday for Disney Infinity version 2.0, however, if I can get a deal on each present, he may be able to get it for Christmas, who knows!



I don't spend my life looking at bargains, I don't have the time too, but thanks to quick and easy price comparison widgets, such as the one above from My Voucher Codes, it's very easy and straightforward to quickly pop onto the website, see what's on offer and where, and go and make an order if I wish too!

It's a lot easier than travelling from shop to shop, or even town to town, what I done one year when I couldn't find his most wanted present ANYWHERE!

Remember folkes, let's save money, not throw it away!
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A Christmas Cookie Recipe from the National Trust

We all know that Christmas is a time for sharing. The National Trust is cooking up some holiday spirit with a simple and tasty Christmas recipe, they will also help give your treat the National Trust look.

Ingredients For Your Christmas Cookie Recipe.

225g self-raising flour
115g brown sugar
115g butter
25g cocoa powder
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-2 tablespoons of milk.

For decoration you will need:

250g white ready to roll icing
250g purple ready to roll icing
Boiled apricot jam
Cooled boiled water.

You can substitute other colours if you'd like. Be sure to get an oak leaf and acorn cookie cutter set. This Christmas cookie recipe will make a batch of 25 cookies.



Baking Your Christmas Cookies

Before you begin combining all the ingrediants from this Christmas cookie recipe, preheat your oven to 180oC/350oF.

  1. Mix your flour, cocoa powder, ginger and mixed spice and sift into a bowl.
  2. Add your sugar, then cube your butter and add it to the mix
  3. Roll your sleeves up and rub the mix together until it resembles breadcrumbs
  4. Add the orange zest, beaten egg and milk then combine until the mix becomes a firm dough. Wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 20-30 minutes
  5. Dust your work surface with some flour and roll out the dough to a depth of about 5mm
  6. Take a round biscuit cutter and press out your cookies
  7. Place the cookies on a sheet of non-stick baking paper on a baking tray leaving adequate space between them
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes and then leave to cool


Decorating Your Christmas Cookies

  1. Dust your work surface with icing sugar
  2. Knead your white ready to roll icing until it’s pliable and soft
  3. Roll it out to a depth of about 2mm
  4. Take the same circle cutter you used to cut your cookies out and press out one for each cookie
  5. Brush the surface of each cookie with boiled apricot jam and fix the white discs of icing in place
  6. If necessary re-dust your work surface and then knead your purple ready to roll icing
  7. Roll your purple icing out to a depth of about 2mm
  8. Take your oak leaf and acorn cutters and press out the shapes
  9. Add some cooled boiled water to the back of each shape and then fix to the white icing
To give this Christmas cookie recipe a National Trust look, add the logo using the oak leaf and acorns.


It's a simple and tasty treat to whip up on a cold afternoon. Enjoy the season and enjoy the cookies.

Do you have a special Christmas cookie recipe you'd like to share? Let the National Trust know on Twitter and/or Facebook.

Until next time,
Jada x
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How To Make Holly Wreath From Flower Paste

Christmas is just around the corner and if you’re going to make a traditional Christmas cake why not spruce it up with some flower paste holly and berries to give that cake some holiday cheer. Holly and berries are fairly easy to make, especially as you can now get pre-coloured flower paste. Of course if you wanted to use normal white paste and colour it yourself that’s fine, but be sure to use paste or gel colours as opposed to liquid colouring for the best results.

Making Your Flower Paste Holly And Berries


The beauty of making holly and berries is that you don’t need a lot of materials or fancy tools, and with the use of a holly cutter you can speed the process up and create luscious holly wreaths in no time.

You will need:

Green flower paste.
Red flower paste.
Holly cutter.
Cooled boiled water.

To make the leaves follow these simple steps:

  1. Dust down your work surface with some icing sugar.
  2. Knead your green flower paste until it’s soft and pliable then roll it out to a depth of about 2mm.
  3. Press out holly leaves with your cutter.
  4. Using the back of a knife or a scoring tool mark in the veins of the holly. Then place them on a rolling pin. This will give them a curved, organic appearance. Set the pin to one side and allow the flower paste to set hard.

 While the leaves are setting you can make the berries. Again this is nice and simple.

  1. Knead your red flower paste and then pinch of small amounts and roll into balls.
  2. Indent the top with a small cross shape using a sharp knife.
  3. Add a tiny amount of green flower paste into the indentation.

Assembling Your Flower Paste Holly Wreath

You can place your wreath around the outside edge of the top of your cake, or if you prefer to make it a smaller topper you can lightly indent the top of your cake with a round cutter and follow the indentation.

  1. Dab a little cooled boiled water to the bottom of each leaf and fix them in place.
  2.  Layer the flower paste holly leaves to give the wreath a full and lifelike appearance.
  3. Once the holly leaves are in place simply attach the berries using some water.


And that’s all there is to making a holly wreath out of flower paste. It’s a quick and simple adornment for a Christmas cake, and you can also use the leaves and berries to top off a cupcake or even biscuits.
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Gift Ideas for a New Born

It will be the happiest moment of your friend or family member’s life so essentially it doesn’t matter what present you get for the occasion as they have just received the best gift anyone can get. However, you will still want to contribute to the occasion and also perhaps give the new addition something which they can look at in the future which marked the special day. A gift for a new born is a gift for the mother, the baby and their future selves. Here are a few ideas for gifts which will live up to this special day.

Flowers
Flowers are welcome on any occasion but they are especially poignant for a birth. Flowers for a newborn represent how the child will blossom, they will brighten up the home of the new mum and, if you get them from a quality florist, they will displayed to perfectly compliment the occasion. For extra meaning you could choose the flowers which represent the appropriate birth month i.e. carnations for January.

Hamper
You can be slightly creative with this gift for a new mum and her bundle of joy. Pick and mix objects which will help the mum through those first months (a pack of nappies, muslin towels), fun items for the baby (a teddy bear, teething toys) and some treats which will cheer up the mum (more flowers?!).


Photography
A lovely way to mark the special occasion of a new birth is to organise a session with a professional photographer. Most photo studios will be happy to create images which will bring out the family’s personality and perhaps get a smile from the new addition. Your gift can be a voucher for a local studio.

Scrapbook
This is a good one for the future. A collection of news stories, pictures of current popular celebrities and important events around the lives of the family in question can be gathered to stick in a scrapbook which will be a fascinating read in years to come. Combine the personal with the historical to make it relevant to the new baby.

Message Book
Here’s a novel idea which allows you to make use of the unprecedented amount of connectivity we have these days. Get in contact with all the people who are likely to play a large part in the new baby’s life – family members and best friends – and ask for three or four paragraphs from each of them about the parents, their lives and what they expect the baby will bring to their lives. If you think some people might struggle with the tasks provide some prompting questions such as; what do the parents mean to you? How do you think the parents will handle the new responsibility? Try to imagine the baby’s 21st and the situation of everyone’s lives at that point and how different they will be to how they are now.
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The UK’s Cheapest Nights Out

At this time of year you need to save money where you can. But that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your social life. Luckily there are plenty of places to visit in the UK which offer plenty at relatively little expense. These are great places for short breaks, days out and big nights out.



Nottingham
Nottingham, with its universities, proximity to many other cities and breadth of things to do is a great place to go if you are looking to please a number of people at once. Based on the findings, Nottingham is said to be the cheapest place to book an overnight break with drinks, an evening meal and taxi fares all considered.

Cardiff
Wales’ capital hosts great sporting events, lively night life and many historic attractions to take in. There is a great variety of night spots in Cardiff for fans of chart music and dance as well as rock and indie. Clubs such as Club Metropolitan and Live Lounge are renowned for their cheap and cheerful drink offers.

Sheffield
With it’s rich musical heritage and cultural importance (the Yorkshire city also has a keen film-making tradition) Sheffield is a vibrant and interesting city to visit. As is the case with all these inexpensive places it has a large student population which means you will not find it hard to find great drinks offers.


Leeds
Yorkshire’s largest city is a great place for cheap places to eat as well as drink. Eating establishments such as Neon Cactus and Giraffe are well worth a visit while bars such as Brooklyn and Milo’s often run good drink offers.

Bristol
There’s much variety in Bristol which means you can just as easily find somewhere very cheap as somewhere incredibly expensive (especially if you are in the Clifton area). And when it comes to culture, there are not many cities outside of London which rival the place on the River Avon.

Birmingham
Like Nottingham, Birmingham has the benefit of being in such a central location that it is easily accessed from many places in the country. For cheap drinks, there is the Tunnel Club, Jewellery Quarter and Summer Row and to eat, Asha’s, Athens and Brasshouse on Broad Street should satisfy your stomach while leaving a few notes in your pocket.


Liverpool
There’s much more to the Merseyside city than The Beatles. With a number of universities and a thriving student population you are never far from a cheap place to drink in Liverpool’s compact city centre.

Newcastle
If you can survive the cold (the locals are renowned for braving the Baltic conditions in little-to-no clothing but this is not recommended) you are almost guaranteed a good night out in Newcastle. Avoid the Bigg Market and head to some of the student bar – students in Newcastle come up in surveys as among the most satisfied with their social lives.

Glasgow
North of the border Glasgow beats it’s pricey neighbour Edinburgh hands-down in the cheap stakes. There’s plenty in the way of gig listings, restaurants and bars to enjoy without breaking the bank.
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