Friday, 27 November 2015

iFlowerGift.com Review

I love flowers, and making outdoor spaces nice and colourful, but we are renting at the moment and there's not much in the garden, and we won't be here much longer - that said it was still boring having no flowers around so I was happy to get the chance to review iFlowergift.com.

This is a new start-up that offers a select range of different flowers such as roses or gerberas, with prices roughly around the £19-£30 mark. Depending on which option you choose, you can add extra stems to your order, choose different colour combinations, and order personalised ribbon to go with the order. I was given the opportunity to order some flowers up to the value of £26, and asked to give feedback on the service and the website. Here's how the experience went:



The Website - My main feedback on the website is the colour scheme and the way it's organised. I found pale menu options against a pale background. The text only turned green when I hovered over it so it was quite hard to read. I would have liked to have seen an easy option for displaying all their products as I wasn't sure where to click. Perhaps more search options and better titles would make for an easier shopping experience as well - such as names of plants and mixed bouquets rather than just colours.

Ordering - This was a quick and easy process once I selected what I wanted to order. Free postage was included, and the Paypal option was also very useful. My only thing here is I forgot to fill in one part of the form, and it didn't highlight it so I spent a few minutes looking for what I'd not filled in.



My Flowers - I ordered on 27/10/2015 and they arrived on the 31st, the earliest date they had given for delivery. They came in a big box, that did get a little squashed in transit - with flowers inside, there was nothing solid to keep the shape in the corners. Inside the flowers were wrapped in cardboard, this was a little loose, but a good thickness (the box needed to be as thick).

The flower stems were wrapped in a moist water bag, and mostly survived the journey, though I did have to throw away 1 broken stem. I was happy with the quality of the flowers and greenery and enjoy arranging them in a vase. They did look a little droopy when they came out the box, but seemed to perk up when they had been fed and watered and arranged.  In all they lasted a good 7 days all bright and fresh, and then started to go, just one stem at first but a few days after that they were binned. If I'm honest I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of freshness, but my flowers were in line with what I'd expect so I was pleased with the experience.



The only other thing I'd add is I like the fact this business have a story, and they buy direct from flower growers - I'd like to see more of this (with pics) on the website. It's good to know where the products come from and I think iFlowergift.com could be selling this more on their website.

If you're looking for some blooms this Winter, why not try out ordering online for yourself. Check out iFlowergift.com for

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Crafting With Baker Ross Wreath Rings

I have never made a wreath before - that's my Christmas confession. Mum used to do some flowering arranging and made centrepieces and even had a wreath ring and faux flowers etc, but I never joined in. To be honest I was a little bit intimidated by the wreath rings and how on earth I'd create something decent.

Copyright - These City Days/ Pawprints and Petals 2015


One of the things I enjoy about Baker Ross is their range of basics, and when I've received them I haven't felt quite so weary of trying something new. In a recent box of goodies to experiment with I had a pack of cardboard wreath rings which retail at £2.50 for a pack of 10 (that's just 25p each). Each wreath has a ready punched hole with some string for hanging, and although they were not quite as thick as I was expecting, they can be doubled - up (which also covers any paint residue or attachments). The ones I have made have also held up well to anything I've attached and stuck on them.

Extras I have used include paint (acrylic and normal metallic), ribbon, various flatback embellishments and stickers, toppers from a Hunkydory set (great size to stick on the wreath, or to make a centre feature), and naturals collection willow branches, just mixing and matching from my boxes as ideas came really. I decided instead of wrapping fabric or wool round I'd use normal acrylic paints - I did wonder what they'd look like on cardboard, but they've come out really well.

Copyright These City Days/Pawprints and Petals 2015
As a basic a wreath ring is a lot of fun to use - I like the idea that you can cover as much or as little of the space as you like - it's a different challenge to making a card and feeling like there's acres of blank white space in front of you.

Find more Christmas craft ideas and products on the Baker Ross website. There's still plenty of crafting time left before xmas, so I'd love to see your blog posts, pics and more if you do make any decorations or gifts before Santa comes.

* I was gifted the Baker Ross products as part of their blogger network, but all opinions and ideas in this blog are my own.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Fenjal Bath And Beauty Products Review

Fenjal is a brand I've seen in the shops quite a lot, but it's never really jumped out of the shelf at me, and so I've never picked it up. I'm not massively brand loyal when it comes to bath and body products, although I have some favourites - I guess the packaging didn't really say anything to me and suggested a herbal product which I'm not a big fan of.



Perceptions can be wrong though, so I was happy when the opportunity landed for me to try out several products from the Fenjal Classic range. I received -

- Fenjal Classic Hand Crème (RRP £4.25)

A standard pocket size so great for taking out, and I do treat my hands more in cold weather. Non greasy, and I didn't need much each time so will last a while. Testing going well so far. This product is a blend of antioxidant rich Swiss rose stem cells and vitamin C. I'm probably quite bad in that I just use body lotion/butter for most things, so probably wouldn't use this often enough.

- Fenjal Classic Body Lotion (RRP £5.36)

Really good size bottle for the price, and I was happy with the texture, not too runny, not too thick. It's a non greasy lotion and applies really easily. I prefer the scent for use as a bath product than a lotion, but so far my skin is nice and smooth and I'm a happy tester.

- Fenjal Classic Shower Mousse (RRP £4.60)



I'm a fan of shower mousse, for some reason it just feels extra luxurious picking up the can and squirt out a thick and creamy lather to use. This is pretty much what it claims to be on the tin - cleansing, softening, and delicate. The scent is more subtle than some spa ranges I've tried so that is a definite plus point. I'd say at the moment this is my go-to mousse when I want something fresh and invigorating. Would definitely consider buying this again.

Have you tried Fenjal out? I'd love to hear your thoughts and which products you use. In the meantime I have plenty of pampering days left in these bottles. Bonus points for value for money.


 
 

Sunday, 8 November 2015

The Up's And Downs Of Moving Home

Last year we had an absolutely grim winter of bugs and illness, to the point it got pretty frustrating, ridiculous, and killed off a lot of xmas spirit - this year we've done well on the avoidance front so far (touch wood), but we have had something bigger to contend with - moving home..!

To me a house isn't just a pile of bricks, it's a home, so leaving our 'forever home' after 29 years was always going to be a wrench. I loved our house, road, and area - which is pretty unique and not too crowded as it was in a conservation area - it was also private, un-overlooked, and one of the big pluses - it was convenient for pretty much everything - I had the option of walking or cycling to town, supermarkets, retail parks, the local shop etc. really easily - which meant I could easily fit in shopping trips between work, and had a easy, safe route home at night.




So yep I didn't want to leave - of course being settled and loving where I was, was a big part of it - as I suffer from anxiety and agoraphobia, and we'd had all the hassle with selling the house - I was reluctant in that respect as well. Add to that having nothing at the time to replace it with - we are currently renting - and it was pretty unsettling.

Leaving was horrible - I still do my spare time job round there as well, so I have seen evidence of our buyers rip our house apart. I think I will always miss it, but of course where you live influences what you like and dislike, and your choices as well - so it wasn't just being settled and all the moving stress - it was wanting to stay in what I consider to be the nicest, most convenient part of town.

Since then we've moved into a rental, and that time has gone pretty quickly - the rental isn't in as good a location as our old house, but there's some nice walks about, it's surprisingly quiet, and so far we've not really had any major issues with the house - just a longer than expected process to rent in the first place.


Next-up we will be moving to a brand new house - I think there's quite a lot still to be done before we get the keys - it's a similar distance from things than our rental is, but feels further out in the sticks - and is part of a big building project - so there's not much out there, no conveniences such as local shops for 18 months, and it's near current and future building sites. So not a walking distance from town which we always wanted. At the moment we can't plan a thing as we've no real idea yet when the house will be finished - got to say after a good few years of all this hanging around, I'm pretty tired of moving related things......living at home with parents you don't get a choice, but it's hard not to have an opinion....and after all this - I still would never have moved.

Here's to finally being settled in 2016 - hopefully it will be a smooth ride.

* Photo's are shots taken in our old garden/road.

Friday, 16 October 2015

How To - Make A Woodland Christmas Scene In A Shell

Craft, lovely craft - I thought I was all made out after sending a big box full of stuff to a great Christmas craft shop I am selling in, but I had a fresh burst of inspiration this week, thanks to a delivery from Baker Ross. Time to blog again as they very kindly sent me some items from their naturals collection to try out.

When I first opened the box I wasn't quite sure what to make of it - I was expecting autumn stickers, maybe something seasonal to craft for Halloween or fireworks night - my box had 2 bags of decorative stones, a bag of twigs, wicker balls, craft wreath rings, pine cones, and large shells. Couldn't see how these were going to come together to make some projects, but the shells looked ideal for a base for something so I started with that, then thoughts turned to Christmas, and eventually this was the result. Here's how I made my woodland scene.

Copyright These City Days 2015
Materials:

- Something to rest your pine cone in while painting
- Pine cone
- Green and white paint, and paint brush
- Decorative stones and small gemstones
- Snowflake flat back
- Glitter glue
- Children's toy stuffing
- Small wooden animal embellishment that can stand upright when glued

Instructions:

The main thing with this make is patience while things are drying - so find a safe place to place things before you start.

  • First step is to get your shell and choose a pine cone to sit in it - it doesn't really matter whether you choose an opened out or closed in cone, just so long as it will stand up straight on the inside of your shell (you can trim the bottom a bit if needed).

  • Next paint the pine cone green, I used a fairly thin paint brush so I could get in all the grooves. Try not to layer it on too thick, and rotate it as you go, leaving areas to dry if needed, so you don't end up with messy paint covered fingers.

  • When the green paint is completely dry, gently paint some of the tips of the pine cone white to make the illusion of snow.

  • When the pine cone is completely dry, use your glue gun to secure it in place on the shell, then stick the snowflake flat back on the top and again leave a little while to dry.
Copyright These City Days 2015

  • Now it's time for decoration - Stick your chosen animal embellishment on the shell, ideal spot is roughly in the middle in front of your pine cone Christmas tree.

  • Play around with some pebbles and stones, to make a wooden floor effect. I chose one bigger pebble, and then some from the smaller bag - so the weight didn't over balance the shell. Once you are happy glue these into place with the glue gun.

  • For a finishing touch arrange small amounts of toy stuffing around the empty spaces in the shell, and then carefully put some glitter glue in places to add some sparkle.
I've never tried making anything like this before, but was really happy with how it turned out. Hope to experiment creating some other scenes soon. Baker Ross really challenged me by sending pebbles and shells, but they are lovely quality, and work well to build other things on or around. Find the full Naturals Collection at Baker Ross.



Tuesday, 6 October 2015

City Diversions Street Theatre Festival 2015 - Chelmsford

Street theatre is one of my favourite things, there's normally a lot going on, and watching people's reactions to the unexpected, surprising, and random is great entertainment. It's also fun to photograph, especially for a photography fan like me.

I have however been to see our local City Diversions Street Theatre event a good few times now, so in so I know a little of what to expect, especially with the popular acts. So I went into town on the 19th September concentrating my efforts on finding something new and different and I think I found that this time round. Here's a few of the acts I watched this year.

Dynamogene - The Cymbalobylette (France)
 
Dynamogene - The Cymbalobylette
 
This was like stepping back in time to an era where mad cap inventors would gather all they had to produce weird and wonderful machines. Very creative presentation and humour in the performance which demonstrated all the aspects of their weird and wonderful machine.









Musical Ruth (UK)

Has to be seen to fully appreciate how hilarious this act is. Very funny to watch a singing Nun float around the high street, playing the piano, surprising the public with facial contortions, and giving 100% to sing and dance in the most random way possible. I'd heard about this act before, and it didn't disappoint.







The Airship (Spain)

I wish I'd been able to see this act again as it looked really good. Seeing something big go up and down the high street is always a favourite at City Diversions, and this airship was great.


Funny characters acting as airship pioneers, who at one point even rose in the air pulling an audience member behind them. Would like to see what else they have to offer, as it was very entertaining.




Folk Dance Remixed (UK)

I couldn't wait until I was old enough to do maypole dancing at school, and loved it when I did, although that's probably where my interest in traditional English dance ended. I was intrigued to see how this act would perform maypole, and make it modern. They turned out to be one of the best acts I have seen in a long time. Their mix of traditional, and urban (think street, house, hip hop, breakdance) was engaging from start to finish, and the energy that came from having live instruments and beat boxing really carried round the performance space. Unfortunately I missed their other shows (they didn't just do the maypole) but it was a really nice touch that they did a workshop after their maypole show to get the parents and children involved. This is how you get people interested in dance. Would definitely watch these guys perform again. Folk Dance Remixed were a great addition to the line-up this year.

 


There seemed to be more of an emphasis on static shows or walkabouts with specific performance times this year, and not as much to see in between, wandering about the high street. Perhaps some more workshops, make a take, street food would further add to the atmosphere and entertainment. Otherwise I was diverted by City Diversions.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

New Blog Logo!!!!

I felt like a kid in a sweet shop this week, and it was a bit unexpected. I have the opportunity to link back to my blog on some of the articles I do for work, and I thought it would be nice to have a logo - I'd love to be more graphic and photoshop minded, but never seem to have enough time, so I took to Facebook. I wasn't expecting a reply but a lovely former school mate of mine offered to help and within a day I had a logo back. I am so pleased!! I wasn't sure quite what I wanted but this is perfect! Only thing I need to do now is work out how to get it on my blog - I am only used to free templates so that might be a task. Meantime here's my artwork, thanks to Clare Brasier.




Monday, 3 August 2015

National Flower Show – Hylands House, Chelmsford - 17th -19th July 2015




The sun was shining; it was the weekend, and what better way to celebrate the great weather than with a visit to Hylands Park. A favourite place to relax all summer long, but the gardens had some competition in the blooms department this month, thanks to the National Flower Show which ran from 17th-19th July.

 Over the weekend, Aztec Events (hosts of the Blenheim Palace Flower Show) offered visitors stalls selling flowers and shrubs of all shapes and sizes, along with gardening tools and accessories, leisure wear, and a wide range of gift and craft items ranging from locally produced fudge and sausages (including one very hot version offered as a sample) to jewellery. Essex Lowdown was there on the Saturday to see what this event, a first for the venue, was all about.

On arrival at the venue many visitors were stopped short by a very realistic looking bronze statue sitting on a bench, and after listening to a few ‘is it real’ cries, made it inside, only to find more innovative garden statues and water features. For a first event, there was a good variety of plant retailers, including bonsai and topiary stalls, who sat alongside other outdoor retailers, their stands displaying everything from tempting hot tubs and cute garden sheds, to vintage style plant pots and miniature accessories to make fairy gardens.

 
The pavilion marquee housed local craft, food, and home ware retailers, cake stalls, and some cookware demos; while next door the ground floor of Hylands House was open to ticket holders. The opportunity for first timers (like me) to get a look at the restoration of the rooms, and to view the plant displays and arrangements some of which won merit awards for their work.

The craft marquee is often a place to find interesting people and their passions, and this event didn’t buck the trend. In amongst the hand crafted jewels, cosmetics and other craft was Drew Burnett of Wild Eye Photo’s. This guy turned pro after an accident prevented him continuing a traditional job, and his passion is now his job. The result was a great collection of wildlife photos from the UK and abroad, and if you’d stopped to chat, you may have got some of the stories to go with them too!



You never know who you might meet at a garden show, what you might be tempted to buy, or whether the food offering might be more than the usual burger van. On this count event organisers delivered, with hog roast, Dutch pancakes, licensed bar, and delicious berry strudel among the offerings (yes I did try some!)



Although there was little advertising/timings given for the talks (which I mostly missed) and the entertainment (which there could have been more of), there was plenty to look at just by doing circuits of the event site. The lovely weather definitely helped as well, although I think there is potential for this event to continue and develop regardless. I just might need to start a flower fund now, ready for next time!

 

To find out more about the garden, craft, and other events Aztec organise, including the ‘All About Dogs which arrives at Hylands Park on 26th – 27th September, visit the website.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Super Easy Disney Make Using A Cupcake Case

Hi all,

As part of my last Baker Ross blogger network package I received some lovely lengths of paper strips, which are ideal for card making, weaving, quilling and more. There's a good range of colours, some nice and bright, and others what I'd call dark pastel shades, so a good choice for Spring and summer makes. I decided to do something different and make a Disney badge, using some of the patterned paper strips (contrasting patterns on each side) and 2 mickey mouse cupcake cases. That is literally all you need apart from some scissors, glue, and a little bit of patience. Here's how to make yours.

Instructions:



  • Cut 12 strips of paper 5-6 cm long and fold in half. Put these to one side.
  • Choose 2 cupcake cases. You can go for plain or patterned, but I went for one with a picture in the centre image.
  • Lightly glue on the back of each cupcake cases, then fold in the outer edges, so end up with just the centre edge showing - in a rough circle/hexagon shape. Leave these to dry.
  • On the back of one of the cases arrange the 12 strips of folded paper round the edge in a petal effect. Once you are happy with the spacing glue them down and leave to dry.
  • Finally place the second shaped cupcake case over the top of your glued paper strips. Then you'll have a finished double sided design, and it will also cover up all the gluing you don't want people to see.
Quick, easy, and something everyone can get involved in. I think it's a good bit of upcycling if you have spare cupcake cases lying around as well. They could be used as badges or add some ribbon to make a rosette, great for children's parties. I've not had time to experiment but my other idea was to use them as toppers for some colourful party bunting.

Sometimes the simple makes are the most fun, especially when there's plenty of things you can do with them afterwards. Have you any quick and easy makes to share? I'd love to hear what you've been making or discovered a new use for.

* The paper strips pack was sent to me free of charge as part of the Baker Ross Blogger Network. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Mini Primark Haul - April 2015

Love them or hate them, Primark is great when your freelancers purse strings are a bit tight and you feel like a treat. There are some things I probably wouldn't buy in there, but the store is great for basics, and PJ's - I am slightly addicted to Primark PJ's - love the fluffy Winter ones, and their Summer collection. So here's a haul post to share a few of the super cute things I bought, and a few bargains as well.

Cardigan - £5

This was an impulse buy I found on a sale rack. I did need more in the way of cardigans and it's lovely and warm and comfortable, perfect for this weather when it can get a bit chilly. Hopefully it will hold out well in the wash and last a long time, really happy so far - it just attracts the bits if you're sitting on the grass in the sunshine.

Trainer Socks - £2.50


Super cute Care Bear motif, a nice fit and good range of colours (purple, blue and pink). Impulse buy I had to have and I think good value for the quality and being a licensed product.

Basic T-Shirts - £1.50 each



One thing I'm often buying each season in Primark, as old ones wear. These are from one of their basic ranges, with a slightly looser fit which I liked. Great range of colours and styles in the t-shirt aisles here. Always happy with the quality and value of the basic shirts as well.








Mickey Mouse PJ Top - £4.00


Almost like a Japanese cute Tsum Tsum Mickey, really cute design, great for summer, and ideally goes with a pair of PJ bottoms I have at home (with nothing to go with). Just a pity they didn't have matching bottoms in store instead of tiny shorts. This will be great for the summer though.







Little Mermaid PJ Set - £10.00

Bright, colourful and full of all the characters from the film on the bottoms, with an on-trend American style print on the top. They came up a bit bigger than their sets usually do, but still fine for a PJ fit, and they are still fairly light for warmer weather, and wearable in autumn as well. I love this store for Disney PJ's!!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Inkly Postcard And Greeting Card App Review

Happy National Stationery Week everyone! Anyone who knows me will know I love stationery, mainly writing sets as I'm an avid pen pal and can't resist cute paper, but other things catch my eye as well. So I wanted to do a post to celebrate National Stationery Week, but what to write? Well I was offered the chance to review Inkly a smartphone app that allows you to create and send postcards or greetings cards to friends and family.

Typically there is the opportunity to upload photo's to some ready made templates or add a photo inside the card, or with the postcard option there's different borders you can choose from with messages to suit different occasions such as holiday's or party invites, I think I spotted weddings in there as well. Card wise you can choose from him, her, children, different occasions, fine art, humour - most of the normal choices you'd expect from a store.

There's also another element to this app which is being heavily promoted, and that is the ability to add a handwritten message inside the card (there's the option for a typed font as well - but that isn't as fun), using your phones camera.

I was given the opportunity to try the app out and send a card or postcard, and I chose to create one for a friends birthday coming up this week. What impressed me the most about this app was the visuals and layout - it was all easy to read and scroll through, and when I'd finished my order and went to the 'my order' section to check it was there - my card was displayed  on a neat little shelf, with clear details on status and who I was sending it to - in terms of user experience and design I'd give it full marks.

I chose to add a handwritten message to the card to try out that feature, and this was seamless - I was expecting to go out the app, take a picture of my message, and go back into it again, but it was all done inside the app. I like the fact I could crop the message and display it at quirky angles as well.

A Few Glitches

One of the let downs for me was no clear indication (apart from the size paper I was using to write the message on) of the card size I was ordering. I had to guess, and I think it should be clear what you are getting for your money - size, card quality printed on etc.

I also found the card choices very limited in some categories compared to others  - plenty of fine art
choices, but not so many number/age cards. Perhaps as the app develops they'll add in more choices or the ability to edit certain details/ages etc. to adapt them for different uses. I'm not sure how well the search function is working either as some cards came up that didn't seem relevant to categories/search terms.

Other than that it was an easy and quick process, and now I just have to wait to see if the card arrives safely the other end on time.

The key question is would I use the app again, and I think for me its a no - I am a crafter so make my own cards, and I do occasionally buy from shops or order online - but when I want something different or just feel like customising something as a novelty. At the moment I don't think Inkly compete on price and variety on that score, but I do think they have potential to develop, and maybe offer printing for small businesses as well- handwritten messages would look great on a custom postcard.

*This review opp was kindly gifted to me for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.

To find out more about National Stationery Week visit them on the web at - http://www.nationalstationeryweek.com/  - there's a lot going on, and if you're involved in any way I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Not On The High Street Storytime Sounds Competition

It was fairly recently National Story Telling Week, and to celebrate this, and all things book related (including their very own storytime sounds app) Not On The High Street ran a competition. To enter you had to tweet your idea for a story in 140 characters. The winner would get their idea written up into a story and published on the NOTHS blog, and get a £100 voucher to spend on the site. The best bit of all is - I WON!!!! Things haven't been the best lately for a variety of reasons so to have some luck and win such an awesome prize from a major shopping platform was pretty cool.

My winning idea was for a story about an imaginative boy that was disillusioned with teaching and lessons at his dull and uninspiring school - and how he transformed lessons there. It's not quite the same as a writer having my own work published, but still really interested to see what the authors come up with when the story goes up online. Hopefully I'll be able to share that soon, in the meantime - here's what I spent my voucher on - there is so much stuff on that site it seemed an impossible task, but I bought some lovely treats for myself, and a few for the family as well. Thank you to Not On The High Street for picking me as a winner, it just goes to show you have to be in it to win it, and even a little bit of comping here and there can bring some nice treats to your door.



Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Reading List 2015

I love to read, I think as soon as I could I was reading away, and when I was younger I went through all the Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Sweet Valley High and Point Horror books I could get my hands on. I used to read for a good while before bed, and sometimes in the morning as well. More recently it's been on the back burner a bit because sometimes I'm just tired or can't concentrate on books, at least new ones. I have re-read some on my bookcase a good few times, which my family think is odd.

Anyway sometimes life gets in the way, but with the better weather coming, everything should be much more relaxed and I'll hopefully have more chances to sit out in the garden or go out and get a drink with a book in tow. So I thought I'd blog the pile of books I have in my pile in an effort to kick start my motivation. Hopefully I will be in a space to relax and enjoy every single page. I might up-date with my progress and some reviews too, but in the meantime here is my pile!



Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Chinese New Year Celebrations - Anglia Ruskin University - 28th February 2015



For some reason my Chinese astrology sign is one thing that always slips through my mind, but I have since found out I was a goat, and it's the year of the goat this year which must be a good thing right? To celebrate I headed down to Anglia Ruskin University to sample their Chinese New year celebrations.

The university are definitely aiming to reach out to the local community more, and why not, it seems like a great idea to bring the community in and get the students and others involved in Chelmsford life, this event however did fall a little flat for me. Don't get me wrong I understand why they put it on at the same time as the University Open Day, but I think the layout and schedule of activities were not ideal. I was greeted as I walked in by a friendly student handing out programmes and fortune cookies, and pointed vaguely in the direction of the activities, but the main foyer seemed a bit over crowded, interesting banners illustrating other famous 'goats' were lost behind a queue for free open day food and drinks, and there was only one opportunity to see dancing which I missed.

There were rooms for origami, a traditional tea ceremony, and craft - none of which I tried as two rooms were packed full of children and families, and a queue for face painting, and the other was empty - I did not want to be the only one in there. So in all honesty I got a little bored wandering the corridors, I would have liked more room so I could make something or the plentiful display space used so I could find out more about Chinese culture.

So far, not so good, but I'm just giving an overview of how I found the event, and there were some good points. I loved the free fortune cookies - one told me I would receive some good news by text, the other my money worries would soon be over - fingers crossed huh. The FREE Chinese food samples I had to queue for were worth the wait as well. My lunch all sorted thanks to a yummy chicken satay, spring roll and chicken wing - yum yum yum.
 I also caught the dragon dancing which was very impressive. I love the way they tried to eat people's camera's, posed, slept (complete with snoring noises), and managed to add variety to their routines. it was great fun to watch and photograph.


Before I left I finally got a look at the famous goat banners - I share goat-hood with the likes of Jane Austen, Mick Jagger, and Charles Dickens - pretty cool huh!

Despite the things that fell a bit flat I still had a good time, and look forward to seeing what other community events Anglia Ruskin have planned in Chelmsford. If you fancy checking one out then visit www.anglia.ac.uk/communityevents

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Spring Tea Party Craft Ideas

Craft, craft, lovely craft. I'm not sure how, but I've managed to fit in some making recently, and for a change they all ended up as a themed collection. I was lucky enough to be gifted some Spring craft products from Baker Ross to blog about, and here's my first play around with them.



I used -

Spring themed activity pack - £6.99 - this had paper, card, ribbon and brads, an outline sticker sheet, pop-out baskets, and an activity sheet with project ideas. Loved the vibrancy of the colours on some of the paper and card selections, although I would've liked more variety with the patterned card. Overall though I thought it was a good to have a kit of basics and with some ideas to help get me started. I think there's lots of possibilities with a pack like this, and you do get some good quality card and paper for the money. I would've liked a few more little things, but I'd be more likely to buy a pack like this than one from a themed collection that might contain a lot of the same papers I'd get bored of.



Porcelain Paints -£10.99 for 6 - I received a box of six, and I love, love, love the colours. I had a white, a dark pastel blue and green shade, a bright green, and bright orange. With what I have used them for, a little goes a long way with these paints, so I think working out the cost per pot they present good value, especially if you're going to be painting small things. I was a bit wary of using a paint brush instead of a pen, but found it easier than expected, and with the trusty black fine liner, there's a good combination for some Spring painting. My only comment would be I'm not sure I'd use the white, I'd just leave those areas blank, so it might have been good to have another colour instead.

Tea Bag Holders - £3.99 for 5 - When I saw these on the list my first thought was - what is their purpose, does anyone need a teabag holder?! But I think they are really cute, and glazed which is always a bonus as I can wipe off my bad painting attempts, even after they've dried (before heat setting). I think they'd make a nice alternative to a hanging decoration - it might be possible to display them on mini plate stands/hooks. I enjoy the challenge of what to paint in different size spaces so painting these was good fun, I just found the dipped inside edge a bit of a challenge when trying to be neat. There's room to personalise so this could be a good option to sell on, perhaps with a matching card.



Apart from a few little things I've touched on, I was happy using all these products, and while the activity pack could be a bit better value for money - there's so many things adults can enjoy doing with all these items - and as basics, nothing will go to waste.

Find out more about the Baker Ross craft range at - www.bakerross.co.uk - all products were sent for he purposes of this review, but ideas and opinions are all my own.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Brits Are Back - Play This Brits Bingo Game

Not too long now until Ant and Dec are our hosts for this year's Brit Awards, but hasn't it seemed a long wait since last year's event. I'll be honest I used to love watching the Brit Awards when I was younger and happily voted for my favourite bands and tuned in to see who had one. In the last few year's the presenting and live music hasn't really had the same buzz in my opinion, but I'm excited that Ant and Dec are presenting - these guys know how to put on a show!

Anyway in my inbox this week I had details of a fun little bingo game that I thought I'd share with you all. If you're getting together with friends and family to watch this year's ceremony, why not give it a go and see who wins! Thanks to the folk at the Two Little Fleas office for sending this over.


View Interactive Version (via Two Little Fleas).

For all things Brit Awards, check out the official website. Any thoughts on who is going to win, would love you all to share them below. February 25th - ITV.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Comment - Eastenders Live Week - Who Killed Lucy

Well I didn't see that one coming, Kathy Beale alive and well and back on the square - nice one Eastenders, although even as a regular viewer I can't quite remember how her exit/supposed death played out, maybe time for another flashback.

Anyway while that may have shocked many, all the hype was around the long awaited announcement of who killed Lucy Beale - at last. To be honest I'd almost forgotten it was due, but not in a bad, this storyline is being dragged out too long kind of way.

I have been watching all week and I just want to say well played Eastenders. Normally with a big storyline I have a pretty firm idea of what's going on, or who has the big secret, and am normally complaining at it being dragged out or wondering when the characters will cotton on. Not so this time - although many people had Jane pegged as Lucy's killer, I wasn't at all sure, and the scenes with several of the other subjects were well played and kept me guessing.

As the week wore on I could count several people out, although only going by my theory that their guilty/revealing scenes came a bit too early on and it would have then been obvious. Yep I felt the drama. I'm not really sure what having live excerpts slotted in episodes did for me as a viewer, although it must have been a good experience for the cast, but other than that I think as a Soap Opera storyline it did confuse, send me on several different paths for just long enough to have me doubt, and then surprise a bit with the end result.

Good one BBC Drama. Let's see what tonight's fully live episode has in store!

Friday, 23 January 2015

You Beauty Discovery Box - January 2014

Hello all, it's mighty cold outside so what better way to cheer up than with some nice post through the letterbox. Before now I've not been keen on signing up to beauty boxes, I'm not a fan of being tied down and having to pay out money every month sometimes for products I'm not that interested in.

You Beauty Discovery is a little different - £6.95 a month gets you a box filled with 2 products you choose from their monthly shortlist, and some extra treats - often samples to try out. Postage and packaging is included in the price as well - the boxes are very useful to keep and store things in. Here's what I got in my January Box:



I chose Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm - Already started using this and love the tingly peppermint and my lips are thanking me for the Vitamin E moisturising at the moment. One of those products I've never thought of buying before but I think it would be worth the money.

My other choice was Afyna Detoxifying Body Scrub. I think the 30ml will go along way, although I have a bad habit of squirting too much from body wash bottles. Juniper berry and grapefruit are two of the active ingredients in this one. I've only used it once so far, so will have to report back.

The extras in this box are a selection of Dragonfly Tea samples,  a 25% off Hello Fresh Card, and Dove Youthful Vitality BB Cream. I'm not a big fan of tea unless it's Camomile, but will share these teas around and give them a go. The Hello Fresh voucher I was a bit annoyed about - it's a bit of a bugbear of mine to be offered money-off something like this, rather than just getting something free to try - especially when you're signed up to a rolling subscription which you then have to cancel if you're not interested - not my kind of extra gift I'm afraid.

The BB Cream faired better though, something I've never heard of for hair, and I was impressed with the amount in the foil sample packet - more than enough for thick, shoulder length hair. I've already bought a full size bottle of this so hopefully I'll have lovely shiny new hair very soon.

I'm not sure if I'll be ordering a box long term, every month, but for now I'm enjoying the novelty of trying out new products, and choosing a few each month. Have you tried out the You Beauty Box? Would love to hear your thoughts and some of your favourite products so far.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Primula And Pesto Toasted Bites

The lovely people at Primula sent me a cute little cool bag late-ish last year with a selection of their cheeses in, but it's only recently we've had the chance to try them out, partly thanks to illness and bugs. Mum used the light cheese at Christmas on some olive oil crostini, and I've just tried a recipe from the Primula site which I thought I'd blog about.

Ingredients

Pesto (I chose green pesto with basil from Aldi)
Crusty Baguette
Primula Cheese



Method

This has to be one of the easiest snacks to make, with just 4 steps to something tasty. First cut your baguette to suit your hunger levels, either small circles, or longer cuts to make bigger slices. Then spread the pesto on each slice, you don't need to spread it too thick, but just to suit your taste. Next squeeze some Primula on top of the pesto (again to suit your tastes) and your ready to go. All you have to do then is place the slices under the grill and wait for them to bubble up like normal cheese on toast.



The Verdict

I was pretty wary of toasting cheese spread, and although I've had pasta salad mixed with pesto before, I wasn't sure if I'd like either taste or them both mixed together. The end result surprised me though, and although I wouldn't make big slices of it myself, I enjoyed my treat in small doses. I think it was partly the pesto I chose, which wasn't too strong on the garlic or the herbs so I didn't have 2 competing flavours in my mouth, they fit together well. it wasn't like eating normal cheese on toast, a bit more gooey, but made a nice change, and is something I'd do again. Only bad point was the pesto had to be used in 2 days, and I don't eat toasted cheese recipes that often!!

Have you tried Primula or any of their recipe ideas? Let me know in the comments below if you have, or you've got a favourite snack to share.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Our Christmas Tree 2014

One of my absolute favourite things about Christmas is putting up the tree and decorations, and it has been since I was a child. It's part of the magic I've always loved, and for me the tradition of 12 days before, and taking the decorations down 12 days after Christmas is one I've always wanted to uphold, sadly it's not always my call and with this xmas not being the best, things have already started to look a bit bare. I really hate the bareness and January blues, so I thought I'd schedule a post sharing some of my favourite bits of the tree/decorations to go live on the 12th night.

My nephew putting up the tree:

Even though my sisters left home, it's still been a tradition for us to decorate the tree together, after Mum and I have put it up. This year we had some help from my 2 year old nephew Joey. I'm not sure he fully understands Christmas yet, but he's definitely more into it, and loves helping out with jobs like this.

Copyright These City Days

The Finished Tree:

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A Sale Bargain:

One of the things I absolutely love to do is check out the Christmas bargain aisles, normally the only thing I come home with after xmas is cards or paper for next year. I wasn't planning on buying anything extra in 2014, but spotted a few decorations for 75p on-sale in B&Q so couldn't resist snapping up a few. Here's one of them (love anything reindeer).

 
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Finally, who's that under the tree?

One of my favourite of the few pics I got over xmas of my furr nephew Wilson chilling under the tree.

Copyright - These City Days


Happy 12th night everyone and thanks so much for reading my blog this year. Please do keep popping in to say hi, and have a great 2015.






Love Themed Painted Tealight Holders