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Showing posts from November, 2013

Our Handmade Christmas

*written in association with Hobbycraft

I saw a call-out recently for writers to do a piece about making things handmade for Christmas, unfortunately I couldn't apply, as it had to be literally everything handmade, so I thought I'd share some thoughts on what my family and I do to put our own handmade stamp on the festive season.

Festive Baking

For as long as I can remember we've had the delicious smells of baking wafting through the kitchen. Mum makes her own mincemeat from a tried and tested recipe, and makes a few jars too - mince pies never last very long in our house. Mum also makes our Christmas Cake, though has never yet let me loose on the decoration, telling me off when I offer up too many ideas. This year I may get lucky, and already have some Doctor Oetker Gold Shimmer Spray and some marzipan stashed away.

I tend to stay out of the kitchen nearer the time, too many people and a bit too much stress. I stick to
the washing up, laying the table, helping with the co…

Chelmsford Christmas Lights Switch On - 24th November 2013

Although I started my Christmas shopping a while ago, I just don't feel properly festive until the Christmas lights are switched on in my home city. It's an annual event I always look forward too, and I've been to many - seeing penguins, reindeer's, ice sculptures, and music acts such as Lee Mead, Olly Murs, Kym Marsh (as she was then) and Jo from S Club. The town is full of festive cheer, there's always a nice community spirit, and queues of people round the hot chocolate and mulled wine stalls.

This year I popped into town for the 2013 event and I was more than ready to relax and have some fun. There were lovely lights strung between the market and shops, which created quite a stunning effect, a mobile farm created a live nativity scene, and children were busy getting their faces painted, or taking part in craft activities.

I snapped a few festive photo's then made my way up the high street to the Heart FM music stage for the afternoons main entertainment.…

Scottish Fine Soaps Christmas Collection

I have a festive treat for you today blog readers, but first off, thank you all for coming along and reading/commenting on my blog since June, and for getting all festive along with me now. I've always been fascinated seeing old pictures of my town, and realising the how long some of the companies have been around. That's one thing that appealed to me with Scottish Fine Soaps, as they've been around since 1974 - imagine how many soaps they have made in that time. I'm also passionate about small business and independent retailers, so one of the things I wanted to do on the blog, was showcase that. So here I am, having just tried and tested the Scottish Fine Soaps Christmas collection. The attractively packaged gifts I had to test are-

Spiced Apple Soap In A Tin - £4.96

Spiced Apple Little Bear Soap - £4.75

Gingerbread Luxurious Essentials Drum - £9.95

The problem I have with xmas scented products is they are either way too over powering, or just seem a bit rubbery/syn…

Make Of The Month - Felt Christmas Stocking

I don't know about anyone else, but I am starting to feel the festive spirit now. Christmas shopping is well underway, and so is some crafting. Sorry I've not showcased any makes for a while, but I've not had time for much crafting. One thing I was determined to do though, was to make my little nephew (1 year old now!!) a little representation for the Christmas tree.

I decided pretty quickly to make him a little stocking, small enough to hang on the tree, but big enough that 'Santa' could fill with a few goodies on Christmas Eve. The challenge will probably be finding things to fill it, given my nephew is only one, but I had a lot of fun making it.

The design is a festive Spot the Dog. My sister still has a Spot which she was given as a baby, and as Joey also has a Spot soft toy and books, I thought this would be a fun image to put on the stocking.

Most of the stocking was done freehand. I drew freehand templates of the stocking shape, and the Santa hat. Then I …

New Look Psychologies Magazine - Out Now!

When I launched my blog back in June, health and well-being was one of the subjects I aimed to include in my content hit list. I have skirted around the topic in various ways - such as talking about my Race For Life experience as I fundraised for Cancer Research - now I have been given the opportunity to delve headfirst into the topic once again - this time with a magazine review.

I have read Psychologies Magazine a few times in the past - so I am coming at this review with a little general knowledge, although I don't have too much to compare their new look magazine to. I remember a feature from a well known face on 'not being ashamed to be a pop fan' that I related to, and a general sense of inspiring content.

On the letters page the editor claims to be bringing readers  "new sections, new look, and new experts." This is where I was a bit disappointed, as I was expecting something obviously different, but the December 2013 issue still has the same glossy front…

Matt Cardle - Porcelain Album Review

Christmas is coming, but the goose isn't quite fat. It is however time to sit and think about what you'd all like Santa to bring you for Christmas, and as in my house this normally means some kind of musical entertainment, I thought it would be a good opportunity to bring some music posts to These City Days.

Matt Cardle released his third studio album, titled Porcelain on October the 28th, and it has presented rather more of a review challenge than anticipated. Normally I find it quite easy to earmark what I believe to be potential singles, and what are 'album tracks', but just when I thought the lyrics were a little too 'bubblegum' on one track, or another took too long to get going, along comes an instrumental, a strong hook in a chorus, or smooth change of mood or tone to keep me interested. I am well used to delving into the different elements of the song for a review, but here I think it's about looking at the whole package - so while 'Hit My Hear…