W is for … White Stuff #A-ZPhotoChallenge

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Don’t reallyIMG_0080 need many words to explain this one, but since when has that stopped me?!

It is a lovely idea from White Stuff – they want YOU to help them raise £16K for their local shop charities by creating your own unique patch – see the photographed leaflet for details.

You can pick up your patch from your local shop and then return it, decorated, to the shop by 10th March. Your local shop will be having a tea, cake and judging event which sounds right up my street!

The winner from each shop will receive a £50 White Stuff voucher and go forward for a chance to win a crafting holiday in Italy.

BUT, the best thing is that for every patch entered White Stuff will donate £5 to your local shop’s charity AND all of the patches will become part of a cushion or quilt that will be sent to your shop’s charity. Now, that really is a win/win situation!

If you’d like to see more details, or for some inspiration, check out whitestuff.com/areyouthready or pop into your store. If you can’t get into your local store to drop off your completed patch, you can submit it by post, so don’t let that stop you!

If you’re going to take part in this great challenge, I’d love to see what you come up with! #WSAreYouThready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not sure?

Here’s a photo of the kit you can buy from White Stuff to get you inspired!  Go on, challenge yourself and raise money for charity too!

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Valentines Gifts in Unusual Places (with SportsDirect.com)

Hahaaaaa! SportsDirect.com have issued a challenge! I cannot resist a challenge!!

This is what they’re asking us to do….

“Bloggers will have the task of finding five products from the SportsDirect.com website that they would deem acceptable gifts to give to their partner as a Valentines Day presents, using their blog to explain which items they would chose and why. Each item must be £20.00 or under.”

So, let’s take a look at SportsDirect.com and see what we can find…

Item 1 – Black Zero Stalking Tripod (£9.99). Now the first purpose of this is not for man stalking as you may assume (if you’re me and you’re thinking Fatal Attraction) but a fishing tripod. However,  if you read the description, you’ll see that the tripod, with an attachment, can also be used with a camera. My husband’s a keen photographer and doesn’t have a tripod at the moment, so this is the first item I’d get for him just to show how thoughtful I am (wanting him to be outside taking photos in our current “beautiful” weather!).

Item 2 – Slazenger Metal Pilot Mens Watch (reduced to £8.50 from £39.99!). My husband works on a building site and, though he has an expensive watch, understandably he doesn’t want to wear it on site. This is a good alternative, particularly as it’s currently so much cheaper than the original RRP (no, I’m not being cheap, but I’m sure you know what I mean!).

Item 3 – Muddyfox Mountain Bike Gloves (£9.99) Someone (!) has tidied up my husband’s cycling gloves, never to be found again. Muddyfox is his favourite brand so I’d be number 1 Valentine if I replaced them for him (hopefully!).

Item 4 – Muddyfox Cycling Jacket Mens  (£19.99) My husband has a Muddyfox Cycling Jersey but not a jacket. This one looks brilliant and would score me MEGA brownie points. Ideal Valentines present!

Item 5 – Calvin Klein 365 2 Pack Boxers Mens (£19.99) Those of a nervous disposition, please do not press the link!! Okay, if I have to explain the thinking behind this then you’re not in a Valentines mood at the moment are you? My only comment is that I hope they come with a note to tell those husbands who just might, that they don’t need to be worn for 365 days non stop each pair….. ‘Nuff said!

So, are you surprised? I was to be honest. When I first took on this challenge I wasn’t sure how easy it would be, but these gifts are actually a very good idea – very low in calories and not a cuddly toy in sight. What a refreshing change! Thank you for the inspiration SportsDirect.com!

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Winter Warmer FADS!

Psssssstttttt…..do you Pin?!

I LOVE Pinterest. Have you tried it? If you like photos and pictures and daftness and fun, then it is for you! Pinterest are even clever enough to have described themselves, saves me getting all tongue-tangled and technical, so if you’re not up to speed you can just check them out here http://about.pinterest.com/basics/

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FADS are a great online furniture store and when I saw recently that they were issuing forth a Pinterest challenge, encouraging their blog readers to have a go at pinning a winter warmer board (for a chance to win a £100 voucher to spend with them – hurray!), I had to have a go.

Here’s my board if you’d like to take a look – http://www.pinterest.com/brassolasso/fadswinterwarmer-room/

The lovely thing about Pinterest is that, even if you don’t know where to start, it’s not difficult to find inspiration. I sat and looked at all the lovely furniture and wallpaper on the FADS website and pinned my favourites and then thought of other things that made me feel wintery, snuggly and warm….and off I went! I added a photo which I took outside one of our local antique shops because I thought it looked like a wonderfully warm dolls house, some photos of cute animals and books …. how predictable am I?! All of a sudden it was hard to know where to stop. Hope that you like the results. If you have a go too (you’ll find the details of how to enter here), or would like to know more about Pinterest (I’ll try not to get too befuddled!), please get in touch!

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Tech Guru Google Nexus 4 GIVEAWAY!!!

Have you found the Tech Guru? Techquark.com is a great website keeping us all up to date with the latest news and reviews on the world of technology. I’ve only recently found Instagram and, thanks to the Tech Guru I’ve also found out that I’m a bit behind the times as Instagram have approximately 160 million monthly users!  Anyway, I digress…..Tech Guru are giving us a chance to win the Google Nexus 4 – hurray!

First released this time last year, the Google Nexus 4 is powered by those clever boffins at LG Electronics and has lots of content available through the Google Play Store, from apps to movies, music and books – something for everyone.

Tech Guru’s giveaway is easy to enter through Rafflecopter and closes on 30th November, so there’d be plenty of time to get your hands on this lovely bit of kit before Christmas and beat the kids at their own games (in theory at least!!) before Boxing Day! Please give it a go, and if you’re lucky enough to win, please let me know!!

Enter here – http://www.techquark.com/2013/10/giveaway-win-google-nexus-4.html?showComment=1385029949931#c795581028903653641

GOOD LUCK!

PLEASE HELP! Raise money for Breast Cancer Research Foundation

This is a really simple competition from Wineweaver – make a Cork Buddy and they will donate money to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  As the end date is 31st October, I’m just going to link details in the hope that some of you may be able to, or want to, enter – the more entries they get the more they will donate to Pink Month.

Hoping we’ll have time to go ourselves so I’ll update this post as and when. If you have a go I’d love to see your photos. If you’re able to share this info with your blog followers, Facebook, Twitter or any other friends, I’d be REALLY grateful!

Wine Weaver Donate to Pink Week Link!

This is their example!

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UPDATE!

Nearly got in SERIOUS trouble with husband’s you-must-not-touch-this-as-you-will-get-stuck-to-it-do-you-understand? glue today. Can kind of see what he’s going on about now as I was at one point stuck to my cork. Then it was stuck to the dining table. I have now stuck, quite possibly literally, a placemat over that sticky bit on the table, so hopefully no-one will notice…or want to move it. Anyhoooo, here’s the result!! Our Wineweaver #corkbuddies. Friends will not be surprised to hear that I think we have fairies at the bottom of our garden…..

"We live at the bottom of Rachel's garden!"

“We live at the bottom of Rachel’s garden!”

Mum’s having a go too, so will hopefully post her buddies soon 🙂

Mad MAOAM Mummified Moggie!!

Okay – RIGHT at the start, no kitty was hurt during this process….!

Those very nice people at MAOAM raised a challenge on their Facebook page and, as you may have already guessed, if there’s anything I enjoy it’s a challenge, a chance to be creative and…maybe….a little bit of madness on the way!

MAOAM’s instructions were “Send a photo of MAOAM sweets or packaging in a Halloween setting in an image which is fun and where you have used your effort and imagination to create the image” – FUN!!!!!!!

Well, naturally, the first idea that popped into my head was to mummify the cat….. Before I hear the howls of protest, I did have our cat doorstop in mind.  Here’s the poor guy before the process started

Bare, naked kitty doorstop

Bare, naked kitty doorstop

As my daughter’s a big fan of Decopatch we thought that perhaps we could eat lots and lots and lots of yummy MAOAM sweets (yes, you can see why we like a challenge can’t you?!) and then Decopatch (or stick on paper in bits to you and I) the empty wrappers.  Here they are!

HOW many MAOAM did we eat?!

HOW many MAOAM did we eat?!

They look good just like that don’t they? The Decopatch glue is great as you glue under and over the object you’re sticking, as normally you’d use smaller pieces and layer them slightly,  and then your finished work has a nice shine afterwards too, without the hassle of varnishing.

I have to say that I’ve never really done much of this before, whereas my daughter’s a bit of an expert, especially at being frugal with what she does with her glue. As a result her sheets were dry within hours, whereas mine were still a bit damp and sticky several days later!! I had wondered how that little pot of glue had lasted her years with the amount of sticking she does!! She’ll need some new now though!

After the sheets were, eventually, dry I cut them into strips and then “bandaged” up kitty….and here’s the result! For people who are still a bit freaked out about a covered cat LOOK, I left a space for him to breathe through his nose, even though he’s an inanimate object – I’m not a complete monster!!

MAOAWWWWW!

MAOAWWWWW!

But, but, but….that’s never enough once you start an idea is it?! After that I thought I’d make a sign to go behind kitty for our final display. I hand drew this, and whilst drawing the “M”‘s realised they looked a bit mouth like….. Okay, so bring on a MAOAM pumpkin then!

I really like the M shaped eyes and mouth – they work very well

Please see below for a recipe to make your own ectoplasm!

Please see below for a recipe to make your own ectoplasm!

I think! However, that was a bit dull for us really wasn’t it?! Why not have the pumpkin’s brain’s dripping out in some ectoplasm?! Why not indeed! As our usual ectoplasm supplier is currently busy with other Halloween duties, we decided to make our own. We melted some MAOAM in the microwave (BE CAREFUL if you try this, it only takes seconds and the results are MOLTEN hot – don’t stick your fingers in it!). To this we added some green food colouring and some of the pumpkin seeds. It’s a pretty icky result isn’t it?! Absolutely ideal!!!

We decided that, as well as offering trick or treat callers MAOAM from the handy skull called Ozzle, which we borrowed from my mother (you see, it’s hereditary!), we’d make them up some cupcakes too! I’m VERY pleased with how these turned out. We wrapped the cake cases with more of our decopatch style paper, used unwrapped MAOAM as eyebrows and then a Cyclops style eye in the middle!

Eye spy MAOAM!

Eye spy MAOAM!

You’ll be pleased to hear that we really did think it was time to stop after all this crazy creativity, and put the whole scene together (before Halloween was over and done with!)…… so here’s the final result….. Hope you like it!

HAPPY MAOAM HALLOWEEN!

HAPPY MAOAM HALLOWEEN!

…and by night…..!

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Oh, you Mug!

So, have you heard of Cakes in a Mug before? Using a microwave? Yes, really! If you’ve not been initiated to this AMAZING art yet, then read on dear friend (if you already know all about it, read on anyhow, you might learn something, or be able to comment and teach me something!).

I’m not sure how long microwave mug cakes have been around – when Googling in an effort to find out I did come across an article entitled “Magic Chocolate Mug Cake Microwave Recipe” dated 2008….and I think the concept is every bit as magical today.

Bringing up right up to date, those terribly clever people at Whittard have decided to celebrate the magic with a Cake in a Mug Blogger Carnival. As they say in their article, cake in a mug is a perfect solution for someone who really fancies a little cake without the time and effort involved in baking an entire cake. So, with this spirit in mind, here’s my recipe. Some of the ingredients may seem a little “different” but I PROMISE you that they make a wonderful cake.

The ingredients are in such small amounts that I’ll just run through them as part of the method:-

Optional for decorating purposes later……melt a little dark chocolate in a small bowl, dip in a strawberry and place it on a plate in the fridge to cool (now melt the rest of the chocolate and eat the rest of the strawberries…..if you’re me….).

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter into your (microwave-proof) mug (if you’ve never melted butter in the microwave, please be aware this only takes seconds – my poor nan tried to soften butter in the microwave once, setting it for a minute, then had to try to harden it back up in the freezer!)

Mix in 2 tablespoons of sugar until well combined, then stir in a medium egg.

Add 2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt (yes, really – makes it tasty!).  Then add 4 tablespoons of self raising flour together with a little bicarbonate of soda (I use just less than 1/4 teaspoon).

This is the point that you should add any other ingredients that you fancy. For this particular cake I added a tablespoon of Whittard Luxury White Hot Chocolate Powder and some chocolate drops. You could add cocoa, vanilla or any other flavour essence…whatever takes your fancy.

Pop in the microwave. I blasted my cake for 1 minute 30 seconds in our 850w oven. If that doesn’t seem long enough and your cake looks a little underdone put in for a while longer – but only go 10 seconds at a time as you can really ruin the texture if you overcook it.

Put on the kettle and make a lovely pot of tea. Take your cake out of the microwave and decorate as you wish…… And here’s one I made earlier!

Choco-Strawberry Micro Cake!

Choco-Strawberry Micro Cake!

I recommend eating it immediately, from the mug with a spoon, while the chocolate drops are still hot and runny…. Then do the brilliantly little amount of washing up that you’ve created, have a meal ready for your family when they get home from work/school and eat a tiny portion, claiming to be on a diet….. Go on, I’ll keep your cake eating a secret!

This post is an entry to the Whittard of Chelsea Cake in a Mug Blogger Carnival

UPDATE!

Delighted and absolutely over the moon to say that I was a runner up in Whittard’s Mug Blogger Carnival! The results are online and I’m most definitely going to have a go at some of the other entries – they look lush! Please let me know if you’ve had a go at a cake and how it came out!