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CAFCGirl

CAFCGirl
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Member since: 18.10.2008

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      23.12.2009 15:13
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      Have yourself a home made hand made Christmas

      I'll confess my Christmas this year hasn't filled my heart with hope and joy....

      Mainly because we're waiting to move into a new house, my pregnancy isn't doing me any favours, and we're both out of work.
      However, I'm going to leave my sad little rendition of "Have yourself a merry little christmas" on my little violin for another day because although Christmas comes but once a year, it does come once a year, and therefore Christmas 2010 is going to kick Christmas 2009 in the backside......

      Now money is, for some time, always going to be tight in our house, paying off debts, general cost of living, and new baby are all factoring in there.

      However there is an overwhelming and puzzling sense of overconsumption that seems to awaken in some people but once a year, and me personally, I just dont get it....Maybe because I can't afford to.

      But what I can afford (till the new arrival gets here) is time and effort, and a couple of quid here and there.

      So number one christmas decoration to be made are salt dough decorations.

      Best tip I can give you here is in the december/january sales (which get earlier and earlier) see if you can lay your hands on a cookie cutter set of festive shapes, stars, trees, gingerbread men etc.

      Salt dough itself is very easy to make.
      4 cups of cheap plain flour
      1 cup of cheap table salt (you shouldnt be eating it anyway!)
      1-1 1/2 cups of warm water

      Now heres the tricky bit:
      Mix...... and roll out to about 1 cm thick.....
      (I think I can manage that I hear you say)

      Next using your bargain cookie cutters or wonderful free hand ability, push out your shapes, you can dry them out in an oven but it takes an age, instead place on a microwavable plate and heat for 1-4 minutes (dependant on the size), and then in one minute increments thereafter.

      Remember to keep an eye on them!

      When they feel quite dry in texture, removed and leave on a cooling rack.

      Another top tip - microwave similar size decorations at the same time, that way you dont undercook/overcook.

      To add the hole for ribbon, find a fairly wide part at the top of the ornament, too thin at the decoration splits. I used a long screw, and just gently screw it backwards and forwards gently to pierce a hole, and then with a small screwdriver, smooth the edges out ready for ribbon.

      You can paint your decorations with general craft paint, of dependant on how you like your decorations to look you can just add embellishments.

      Personally I like more scandanavian decorations, really homely handmade looking things, so I opt for coloured graft glue which you can buy as pens, and then I just trace an inner line about a 1/5th from the outer edge.

      Snowmen can be made to look more 3D with a wool/pipe cleaner scarf and a paper hat.
      Stars look really nice with a miniature star in the middle.
      You can also glue on strips of fabric onto decorations using a standard craft glue.

      When creating your dough you can also substitute some of the water for food dye as well, which will add more colour. For more vibrant colours, just use more food dye.
      You can then also double layer two different colours over each other to make 3d decorations, again using craft glue.....

      You can use various ribbons, string, even wire to create the hanging loop. Gingham looks really good for the more traditional look, or velveteen for more sumptious decorations.

      A friend of mine also suggested adding glitter to the dough, such as gold. I've never done this, as Im not a massive fan of glitter, but could be worth a go.
      You can also varnish your decorations to give them a shine and an extra layer of protection for when in storage.

      And to be honest, its nice to just spend a cosy autumnal day doing things like that.....

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      • More +
        22.12.2009 13:55
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        I've read it again and again.....

        I picked this book up from a charity shop, for the grand sum of £1.50, and to be honest in my book buying history this has got to rank as one of my top purchases.

        The story starts off quite, well mundane if I'm honest, some middle class brit's marriage breaks down, and then tragic accident ensues.
        I had bought this book by reading the blurb on the back, so I perservered on with it, waiting for the good stuff to get going.

        I didn't have to wait long and I'm glad I held out.
        Travelling across the Atlantic is where the real story begins. I should warn you to expect to pay attention. There is some medical/theological/spiritual/new age dialogue which took some getting used to, mainly because I'm a real skim reader! But once your head is "in", the dialogue flows beautifully.

        Character wise (once the story has developed) it becomes a lot more believable, apart from Dr Lizzie Chase, who as the main glue that holds the project together is almost too set apart from the others around her due to her outstanding intellect and "power".

        I'm not going to give the whole story away, because that defeats the object. There are a few concurrent chains in the story between characters such as Dr Chase, and the FBI guy, the parents of Frankie, young boy Ben, and then Dr Chase's own personal history. The latter isnt revealed until much deeper into the story, but is interjected at such a point where you've started to warm to her as a person rather than the cool clinical exterior previously presented.

        What I really enjoyed with this book is that it has a little bit of everything. Yes, it has been classed as new age thriller on some websites, but there are undertones of so much else besides. It has some real modern undertones and suggests certain issues, such as censorship and enthuanasia, religious ideology, and the age old "seek to destroy what you do not yet understand mentality" of the establishment. For some, you may think "Woah too heavy for me".
        That is the true beauty of Mawson's writing, it doesn't come across as heavy, or pushing one set of ideals onto you as a reader, its actually very balanced and you come away appreciating each individual's personal stance.

        One downside was the slight element of Hollywood escapade that is thrown in. It just borders on being an acceptable layer of the story thanks to Mawson's eloquent writing and the fact that he didn't go too overboard with the FBI element, but had it been a lesser writer I fear it would have turned into a farce......

        The ending is not so much climatic, as you've been lead as the reader to discover the answer throughout, so it's no "blow your mind" moment of realisation, but I do feel its lacks an explanatory tone. I'd left the book knowing the ending, but not really feeling like I totally understood it......

        Its all very cryptic, my review and the book.

        However downsides aside, I enjoy reading this book and have read it a few times since, and each time I've picked up on another set of subtle undertones, that I hadn't seen before, which is probably my favorite element of the story.

        Well written, if a little too hastily wrapped up at the end. Perfect for a cosy day in!

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        • The Works / Highstreet Shopping / 34 Readings / 33 Ratings
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          20.10.2009 16:36
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          Can always find something I want in there....

          Most of my experience with The Works comes from my local store in Canterbury, however I have also been to the Ashford outlet store and also Chatham.

          Although listed as discount book store, they do much more besides! Its often a good place to browse in periodically because the stock does over turn frequently, for all their ranges.

          I used The Works indepth last Christmas when trying to put together a Christmas stocking present for my husband.
          The stores themselves are often a bit tight for space, with walls shelved out and quite a few floor standing units as well as displays of stock underneath these units.
          They have always got an offer with books (I've never seen them NOT have it) in particular 3 paperbacks for £5, or 2 hardbacks for £6. Normally paperbacks in the offer are £1.99 each so not a great hardship if you can only find one you like.
          I've often found lesser known books by quite well known authors and they do often have some bestsellers although I don't generally use them for new releases.
          I managed to find 6 books in total for my husband, as he enjoys most crime/thriller books, which they often have a good selection of. I've also found quite a lot of easy reads like chick lit for myself. They do often stock the classic titles from Penguin so its great to pick up a cheap copy of a title that kids might require for school.
          They often also have box sets available for around £6 - £10 from many genres and have bought myself a couple of these on occassion.

          Other than books they also stock quite a range in my local store or artists materials. I wouldnt describe them as the highest quality but when you're first getting into something, its a great economical way of exploring a new hobby. They often stock many mediums, canvasses, brushes, crafting materials.

          Stationary is often also really reasonable, including folders, notebooks, reams of printer paper etc. I often use some of their items for gifts such as nice writing sets or gift card sets for the older members of my family.

          There is also a wide range of items for children, including crafts, books, games.

          They have also recently introduced a new range of notelet cards which come in packs of 12, 3 varying designs, which are buy one get one free at £1.99, its hard to find anywhere to beat this price. I've stocked up on these for thankyou cards, birthday cards etc. There are a wide range of prints from funky foods, traditional flower arrangements, black and whites, cute puppies etc. These are also ever changing lately as well.
          Other cards they stock are from 75p each which are also on 3 for 2 and these include specific message cards.

          The only downside of the stores is the cramped feel. There is a huge amount of stock in the shops and some of them stock can be a bit cheap looking, and poor-ish quality. I'm also yet to find a store whose floor doesnt look like its been trampled and scuffed by a rowdy group of toddlers.

          The staff have always been really polite though and very helpful. I know it can't be easy for them to keep up with the amount of stock they get through, but they've always asked another colleague if they didnt know and I've never felt fobbed off.

          Another great plus is they even have carrier bags which DO hold PROPERLY rolls of gift wrap!!

          Always worth a visit!

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          • Primark / Highstreet Shopping / 41 Readings / 37 Ratings
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            15.08.2009 14:49
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            I Heart Primark

            Now I might not be telling you anything that you cant read on the other 360 reviews on Primark and you'd think I might have opted for something that doesnt have a review a dime a dozen, but hey everyone's experience of a product or service is different, and so you may care for mine....

            I consider myself really unlucky. I don't have a Primark in my local city of Canterbury. Why? I hear you cry, its a bustling city in need of affordable clothing for the student population the three universities it has! But No, the big-wigs from the Cathedral opposed to plans stating it bought the Cathedral City into disrepute..... but yet are more than happy to allow a store selling bootleg Nike clothing to operate.... I digress...

            Its really sad because I love Primark, if I could I would buy a t-shirt that read "I heart Primark". Its affectionately known between my mum and I as "Primarni"....
            So what do I love about it, well I love the fact that it is actually now one of the leading high street retailers with a very quick turn around from the collections appearing on the cat-walks and its "versions" appearing in stores, I think its actually something like 2 weeks!

            Dependant on your location you'll find the stock choice catered for local demand. I've been to six different locations. One catering for the more teenage market, with its leopard print leggings and fluro t-shirts, another catered much more for the mid 20's professional wanting to make a statement at work but not for London prices, others are more focussed on homewares, or accessories etc.

            I often use Primark for essential clothing, I dont tend to buy a lot of the fashion trend items unless they are a trend that is an evolving one, such as when military, which then became utility, which then was mixed with victoriana. I may be one of the few people that doesnt actually use Primark for the throw-away fashions, but then I like to take care of my stuff, and get a good wear, plus I'm also not a fashion diva.... which probably explains it a lot more.

            I must confess I didnt much like it when all the prices were advertised with the no VAT price, I liked the round numbers, meant I could keep track of what I was spending.

            It is mainly because I don't have one locally that when I do go I generally have a bit of a blow-out. When I saw Primark blow-out, it generally comes to around £70 and I feel like I've got a whole new wardrobe!
            T-shirts I always opt for the ones with additonal stretch/lycra, they wash up better and keep their shape for longer. Socks, pants and pyjamas have also been great investment, and I've got a number of them after a few years.

            I've also been really lucky to always be able to find a rack with red penned item. The trick is however is not to trick yourself into thinking you need it because a winter coat is suddenly £3. I always try to think if I would have paid the full price for it, and I can get it cheaper than yes, if not, then I don't really want it/like it that much.

            I have bought a fantastic weekender bag in there before now as well, and a rather camp gent asked me if it was Orla Keily..... Oh how I clapped my hands together in glee.....

            What would I avoid, generally things like towels. Cheap towels are generally never high absorbency. I am however really looking forward to when my husband and I are blessed with our first child, baby-grows and the such like are such a good price, and for something that is going to be growing at such a rate why would I pay £10 for a pack of three when I can buy a pack of 7 for £5..... its almost madness that other people dont realise.

            Shoes wise, the quality has often been erractic, and I wish they would put a bit more into the modern day wear footwear for work, rather than illuminious stilettos......but hey if I'm saving money on the rest of the outfit perhaps the hubby will allow a splurge on footwear....???

            Store layout wise I have seen Primark put a lot of effort into re-vamping their stores and making them much more high street rather than just cheap retailer. However you can never get away from the fact that because items are a lot cheaper, people will treat the place like a bootfair. I'm always really careful to go by the sizing on the tag rather than the hanger, as often this kind of attention to detail isnt always followed. I choose my times to visit Primark carefully, early mornings is always best just after opening before the benefit crowd get in there to rob the place, or late in the day however that when the queues are shorter but the place is a real mess.

            Other than that all I would ask is that people treat the staff with a bit more respect, especially when it comes to returning things, why would anyone think that buying a pair of shoes for £6 would mean they are suitable for your 8 year old child to wear to school every day for two terms and then get annoyed and demand your money back when the strap breaks. I mean, be fair!

            Just because it offers lower prices doesnt mean the staff deserve lower respect..... besides if it wasn't for them, I might be without my £2 flip flops, and I am just not prepared to take that risk....

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            • Halfords / Highstreet Shopping / 43 Readings / 42 Ratings
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              05.07.2009 18:55
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              I'd have expected more....

              This review is in particular based on the Halfords Bike Store of their Canterbury branch, located in a retail park off Sturry Road.

              My husband and I were looking to buy a bike for me so that we could start doing some bike rides together, and we were also taking part in some bike rides with my work colleagues.

              So I had a rough budget in mind, and since bike shops are few and far between locally we set out to Halfords.

              The bike store itself is located on the upper mezzanine level, and does also have lift access.
              The selection of bikes seemed adequate, until I started specifying what I wanted to my husband. Note here I was specifying it to my husband as the store assistant was busy on the till with another customer.
              We finally found some ladies bikes, which weren't really highlighted in any way to seperate them from anything else.

              The bikes are all locked on the stands, and we tried to attract the attention of the store assistant but he was completing some paperwork and so we ended up just undoing the locks ourselves.
              I was trying to the bike out for height of the bars etc, and comfort and at no point did the store assistant come over to check on us.

              Within about 20 minutes I had decided which bike I wanted and we literally had to go and find someone from somewhere else in the store. Now we werent there at a busy time and were the only people remaining in the bike store area. But to have to go downstairs to the checkout to ask for someone is pretty shameful and we were shopping there at around 7:10pm!

              So we get someone and he didnt ask us a single question. I told him which bike I liked and even asked for some advice about what height the saddle should be, (I havent been riding on a bike in around 16 years) and all he said was " It's up to you really"... very helpful!

              So we decided and go to pay, some paperwork is filled in and Im asked to come back tomorrow to collect it and reminded to bring my paperwork with me as proof of payment. I wasnt asked any questions about any needed extras. It was only when we walked off that my husband remarked I didn't have a helmet!

              All in all I've got to remark it was a below par service, and I've actually been in there since and watched the same store give a much higher level of service, which almost makes it even worse...

              Now the bike itself cost me close to £300, so it wasn't cheap but the most expensive it could have been, I'm just disappointed that it was such a poor service, sicne the bike itself (A Carrera- Halfords own brand) is perfect for me, even if I did have to change the seat level myself!!

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              • expedia.co.uk / Online Shop / 39 Readings / 37 Ratings
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                05.07.2009 15:41
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                Easy-ish to use when you know where you're going

                Having used Expedia 4 times in the past year, I guess you could say that says a lot in itself.

                We've had one stay in London and three trips booked to New York via Expedia, and my experiences to date have been satisfactory, pleasant, mediocre, no major issues, relatively easy to navigate and book. Now it all depends on your take on those words as to whether its positive or negative...!

                The first part of booking a holiday, actually searching for one to book, has probably been to date my most painful part of the process.
                Selecting where I was flying from was fairly straightforward, London, as was selecting my dates of travel. Having the added option of searching holidays seven days either sides, means you dont run the risk of missing out on any good deals which may have been applicable to dates outside the ones you selected. I'd be surprising if many high street travel agents were doing that!!!

                However if you dont know where you would like to go to, which the second time I used expedia I didn't, it can be a bit of a faff! I was navigated to so many pages, I forgot what I was looking for in the first place. It does allow you to view selected deals for say summer sun, or city breaks etc but I found these were so far ranging that I was better off just deciding in myself where I would like to visit, as I just got too bored browsing so many different places.

                The search results come back automatically ordered in the Expedia recommends order, which I'm yet to figure out how they decide that! I looked through five within the top fifteen of the recommended, to discover a wide ranging customer satisfaction level of rating, one was even marked as a general rating of 1.5 and was in the top 15!

                I find it easier to ordered them based on price, and then I sub select a star option for the hotel in the additional search criteria on the left hand side.This then gives up the options based on the kind of places I generally know I'll enjoy.

                You can also then select certain amenity options, such as wifi access, air con, or room service in a selection box at the top of the search results page. Ideal for certain locations, and also certain times of year. For example there was no way I was travelling to NYC late july with a room with no air con!

                Once you start looking at individual hotels, the lay-out is pretty easy to use. Pictures and virtual tours are available, as are places of interest, location maps etc, all at the click of a button. I must admit I generally look at photos first and then I skip through to the ratings and reviews and look at the most recent reviews (so what its currently like there) and then at reviews for the time of year I'll be travelling.
                What I really like about the reviews area, is that they often included a travellers tip, which you just wouldnt get from your travel agent in town, because they've not been everywhere! I especially love picking up tips about great places to eat that arent always named in guide books, or little boutique stores people have found....That kind of information to me, from real people, in real time situations is priceless!

                Booking of the holiday is simple enough, as with booking most things online. You do have the option to change your flights, and even your airline if you are booking them together. However I normally in my additional search criteria search for flights in the morning going out, and then evening flights for flights coming in, especially for NYC due to the time difference means you gain time going out there!

                So what dont I like do I hear you say? Well I dont like that once I've selected my holiday I have to de-select their automatic travel insurance option which on our holidays has been about £90, how many people just automatically click?! Then before I've booked and confirmed I have to go through two pages of additional extras they want me to add on, like car hire, or theatre tickets etc.....
                I'm sure for some people this service is a blessing for them because once you arrive you dont need to spend time organising these things, but for me it just makes my holiday too planned!

                I'm a firm believer of "when in Rome, do as the Romans do". Live the life of the place you're in, thats what a holiday is surely all about?

                Online payment is relatively simple and what I really like is that you have the option to pay it all in one payment or you can split it between two, making budgetting/getting the cash together a lot less of a stress. You can set it up to charge your card automatically on the day, saving you logging back on to pay the remainder.

                All in all its a enough website to use. It is worth seeing if you can book items individually for less, which for us, it never has been by a long shot! So I'm very happy with that element. I dont like searching gor inspiration on there, because it just boogles my mind, but when I know where I'm going, its very good to use.

                Tickets and confirmation are sent via email, which makes life a lot less stressful as well, just bear in mind they are sent to you literally as you book it, so either print them straight away or put the email in a seperate safe folder, rather than having a mild panic three days before your holiday that you've got no ticket!!!!

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                • Peace Lily / Plant / 48 Readings / 46 Ratings
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                  07.06.2009 09:49
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                  Why complicate things?!

                  I myself have two relatively new and young peace lillies.

                  One I bought from Wyevale garden centre, and it cost me £4.99. However the next day I was in our local Morrissons and it a similar size plant was just £1.99!
                  Im amazed that there can be such a huge difference in price, but theres a lesson learnt in there somewhere.

                  Now the plants themselves have very shiny leaves, in a very bright green. There are tear drop shaped leafs with a waivering edge. The flowers are truly beautiful in their simplicity, which probably explains why I like them.
                  One large petal, almost like a half shell guards a small cob shaped bud with small nodules.
                  The petal is a soft green tinged white and the bud is a creamy yellow.

                  The care that my two are currently receiving is to be in full light but not direct sunlight and they are being watered twice a week, with about 2 inches of water, since it has been quite warm lately.

                  The larger of the two, plant size stands about 20 cms high. One of the flowers has gone on a growth spurt and stands out at around 40 cm.

                  I havent fed either of them yet with any indoor plant food as theyve been going really well. They will however need re-potting soon as they are becoming too large for the containers they are in.
                  Before I re-pot them I shall make sure they are well fed and watered before hand to give them to best possible chance in their new pot.

                  I'm not sure if the plants I have bought cant effectively be split, as there is a lot of growth.
                  What I really like about these plants is the simplicity. A colleague has give my great advice on cleaning the leaves to ensure they keep their gleam,as they may attract dust, and the pollen may fall. A damp cloth and a gentle wipe over on each leaf does the trick!

                  A very easy plant to care for, and I'm looking forward to watching these two grow. My aim would be to get them to around a metre in height. My work place currently has one around that size and its stunning.

                  Dowside is they dont produce much fragrance, but that too can be a positive.
                  Basically I love them, and think they are the perfect houseplant for the well versed and the new starter and due to their shape and style they are a very unisex plant to give as a gift!

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                  • Pug / Pet / Animal / 83 Readings / 80 Ratings
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                    25.04.2009 17:49
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                    Be prepared!

                    Pugs.....

                    January 8th 2009 we collected our new baby, a gorgeous fawn male pug affectionately named Gordon Ramsay....

                    We met Gordon 6 weeks after he was born, and he sat calmly and sleepily in the palm of my hand (and I'm a petite person!).

                    Now my review itself is based solely on my experience to date of owning Gordon, I cant comment on pugs overall, I only have one of them in my life!

                    Personality wise, Gordon is best described as a law unto himself. He has moments of being affectionate, playful, lazy, adoring, protective, relaxed, energised and insular. In short he is by far the most "human" pet I have ever had!

                    He has struggled with learning some basic commands. "No" has been a particular issue for us, and Gordon picks when he listens or doesn't. There have been times when this has been extremely frustrating,a s it is with mall children and trying to teach them correct acceptable behaviour.....

                    This shouldnt detract however from all the things he does right. He's learnt very quickly toilet training, and always has a very healthy appetite. Despite reading in a number of books and websites that pugs as a breed don't require a lot of exercise, Gordon is the exception to the rule, and thoroughly enjoys a good hour long walk morning and evening.

                    A few facts about Gordon:

                    He eats Bakers Puppy Complete dry food, and has had this completely dry for about 8 weeks now. We buy a large size bag which costs around £6 in Asda, and lasts us for about 8 weeks.
                    He has two main meals per day, one at 7:30am and the other at 6:30pm.

                    He has perhap one maybe two treats per day but this is always given when we've worked on some training, or if he has responded to a new learnt commandment. We dont give him treats solely through boredom.
                    This is mainly because I want to use the treats for training purposes, making them more powerful as a reward during training.

                    One thing that we have learnt is not to buy a puppy anything nice! Whilst teething he chewed pretty much most things that were given to him, including his entire bed, which I can only describe as looking like a massacre of a fluffly cloud when I came down in the morning!!!
                    To protect Gordon frm himself and other things in our house, we have built him an indoor pen, in which he sleeps or stays in if noone is in the house. Its large enough for him to be able to play around in, and have a doggy litter tray far enough away from his bedding area.

                    He has responded really well on a lead and enjoys meeting new people. Actually I can best describe him as a "little charmer". He pulls those sad "love me" eyes and people just melt around him.

                    Cost wise, Gordon was actually a present to us by my parents, following a significant loss on our lives (my husband and I), and he has definitely helped in the healing process from that.
                    Having a pet teaches you not to be selfish, to think before you act, we have to plan what we're doing, and structure ourselves so much more from having Gordond in our lives, good preparation for kids I guess....

                    From my own personal point of view, I wouldnt change it for the world, however you have to be prepared for your life to change, you cant just stay out for drinks after work and not get home till 10pm anymore, because someone else is relying on you.
                    I watch him play with his toys, or run around in the garden and I actually find myself quite fascinated by him, as a whole life, it's really strange and quite grounding!

                    We've been lucky to have not incurred any vets bills aside from his injections and we are still yet to decide if we will have him "done".... I mean do I really want to stop more Gordon's bringing joy into other people's lives....

                    I'll leave it there otherwise I will carry on gushing..... If you want to read about pugs as a breed in general, then there is plenty of information available on the internet and in books, this is just what life is like for me having Gordon Ramsay.....

                    P.S He really like watching DIY SOS...... xx

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                    • More +
                      21.02.2009 09:46
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                      You cant put a price on healing and health

                      Imagine this if you will.....

                      You're cutting up tomatoes and th knife slips, nicking the tip of your finger and it starts to bleed..... you stem the bleeding, maybe put a plaster on it and carry on regardless....

                      After a few days, what has happened to your cut, the bleeding has stopped, and the skin is pulling back together and the cut is healing.
                      Did you tell it to do that? Did you say to your finger whilst putting a plaster on, "now you heal in 4 days, and I'll treat you to a new cream".... No.
                      Why not? Because you dont need to. The human body has this wonderful ability know as innate intelligence, the ability to heal itself from within.

                      Theese innate intelligence messages are sent from the brain, down through the spinal cord out through the nerves to all the organs and body parts. When there is an interference in these messages being received, it can cause pain sickness and disease.

                      So what could cause this interference? Whats stopping my body from healing? Quite simply it's restraints in the spine, slowing down or cutting off the flow of nerve messages. This is what chiropractors refer to as subluxations.

                      The chiropractors root principle is to restore this flow of nerve energy, not to heal you but to allow the body to heal itself.

                      Chiropractic is the largest drug free profession in the world!

                      Headaches are not caused by a lack of paracetamol in the body, and back pain is not caused by a delay in an epidural injection.
                      Pain is often the last symptom of a bigger problem. Yet we only begin to pay attention to our bodies when its flags up these warning signs that things have gone on too long!
                      So in my opinion I believe we should be treating our bodies to heal itself, removing the blockages to the messages so we can do what we are intended to do, and that is to live well.

                      I only wish all Dr's prescribed to the Wellness Movement, where the cause of the problem is corrected, and not patched over with drugs. I wish we could teach our children that putting foreign toxins into the body in the way of painkillers and medicatiion is not what we should aim for to improve our lives. I wish we could each take responsibility, and stand up to the government and the Nationa Sickcare Service, and say No, I want to be healthy, and I want to live well, I dont want to be "patched up" and sent on my way.

                      Now my experience of chiropractic is still new, and I'm just starting on my journey toward wellness after having a thorough exam and x-rays, which I saw in great detail, and had lengthy discussion with my Dr about. To look at me I thought hey no problems here, Im not in pain, I feel ok. But why do we measure our health by how we feel? It should be based on how we are functionning. Optimal health is optimal function. Its as simple as that.

                      I had postural photographs taken, and my weight distribution calculated. I carry over 1st more on my right than my left, explaining a constant ache in my right now that I have had since my teens!All that extra weight!!

                      Now my x-rays should a lot, my spine was not straight when looking at it front on, in fact it curve off to the right, and then I had been trying to compensate by starting to lean over to the left, so I had 2 curves when there shouldnt be any! This was further demonstrated on my postural photographs where I could clearly seen I lean to the right!

                      IM WONKY???

                      The great thing was (well I say great) I was at levels 1-2, and so it could be corrected. I had my first adjustment that day, and yes I heard a noise, but it wasnt a cracking, popping or any other crazy sound people seem to think that you will lear at a chiropractors. As the Dr explained to me, its actually just a release of trapped air in the areas of subluxation, and they shouldnt be there, so the noise is simply the sound of pushing that air out.

                      It didnt hurt at all and was done within 3 minutes, so noone in this life has any excuse for not taking care of their spine... even the busiest people in life can spare 3 minutes, twice a week.....

                      You've only got one spine, take care of it, and it will take care of you xx

                      Editted:
                      Following from AJ's comment (thanks AJ), I hadnt discussed my fee because where I've gone it is all dependant on the individual. My examination fee,consultation and any necessary x-rays were just £45, and then the Dr has analysed my results and produced a care plan specific to my situation. I didn't want to list my fee was just shy of £1.5k in case others go and due to their spinal degeneration they are paying upward of £5k!
                      But from my own personal point of view I would gladly pay the price because of what I am getting for that fee, but it will all be dependant on the chiropratic office you visit.
                      Some chiropractors work in a slightly different way to where I am going, as I am on a monthly payment scheme, others charge per visit. The important thing is that you find somewhere who aren't hard sellers, work with the body to achieve correction and maintainence, rather than patch up jobs...

                      The important thing for me was that there wasnt just a standard price for care, I am treated as a complete individual, even down to the days and times of my adjustments!

                      Thanks for the comment AJ and I hope this addition to my review helps

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                        28.12.2008 00:14
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                        Take it easy and remember to smile through the blisters!

                        So you want to go shopping do you?

                        My hints and tips are as follows:

                        Write a list
                        This can be a vague list or a specific list of the exact item.
                        This saves you from wandering aimlessly around the shops, picking up things that you dont want or need.
                        So you can write down that you need new work clothes, or you can write down that you need the original version of Fame on dvd with the song word booklet, and poster special....

                        Basically whatever gives you an aim....

                        Secondly give yourself a budget.
                        Either a rounded budget for your day, so £100 to spend, or a specific budget for each item.
                        This too serves to give you an aim with product, and can also help to narrow down your scope of what shops to try.
                        For example if you want a pair of smart black trousers for under £30, then you wont be trying Coast....

                        Then..... plan your visit.
                        If you're taking your car, make sure you retain enough change for your parking ticket.
                        Pack your list in your purse.
                        Pack your purse in your handbag.....
                        Take re-usable shopper bags if you're that way inclined.
                        Wear comfortable clothes and good shoes, there is nothing worse than trailing round shops looking for something that you're not quite sure what it is when your feet hurt.

                        If you can, take along a good friend if you feel you need someone to give you direction or opinions.
                        Personally for me I am much happier shopping for clothes with a good friend, but household stuff and shoes (weirdly!) I am better off on my own.

                        So you know what you want, and how much you want to spend.
                        When you arrive at your high street/shopping centre, pick an item to start with and name three places in your head that are likely to stock it, do a research trip, scoping out prices. Write them down on your list with where they were, and then think about three other places which "might" stock it. Visit them, see if any of them stock it for cheaper than the previous. Whoever works out cheaper, and with the best offer, buy from them.

                        Move on to your second item.
                        If you're shopping for clothes, it comes in handy to visit places which are likely to stock more than one of the items you are looking for.
                        Do not get tempted by things that are not on your list!
                        Otherwise you will go home with bags of things, but nothing you needed, and then you stress out because you feel like you failed!

                        Should you see something you do like, then go back to it after you've worked through your list and if you still want it/can remember what it was, allow yourself to buy it, but only after you've done a serious search and buy operation for all the items on your list.

                        Dont carry too much, or heavy bags. Take them back to the car, or if you are buying on large item from a retailer ask to pay for it and collect it when you're shopping is complete.
                        Many retailers are happy to oblige you with this, rather than have you not buy from them simply because you cant carry it.
                        In the current economic climate consumers now hold more cards with retailers.

                        Store all your receipts together in your handbag/purse in case you need to take things back. Putting them in the bags is easy at the time, and easier for the cashier too, but when you get outside, stop for two seconds and collect your receipts together, and this will save you stress later when you're fumbling about trying to find it to take things back.

                        And then.... stop.
                        Every once in a while just stop, sit down on a bench, in a coffee shop, wherever, but just take a few minutes to take stock, see where you are on your list, and update yourself on your progress, (especially if gift shopping!).

                        Drink plenty of fluids, and have a nice lunch to keep your energy level going so you dont have a sugar low, get crabby and lose your direction.

                        Lastly though, and this to me is the most important.
                        Have fun..... shopping is NOT the be all and end all of life. If you dont find it today, there is always tomorrow and there is always the internet to help you too!

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                        • New Year's Resolutions / Discussion / 29 Readings / 26 Ratings
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                          27.12.2008 23:46
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                          Look forward with love and affection in your heart, till at least May anyway!

                          I love this time of year!
                          The festive stresses are out of the window and its all forward planning and kissing goodbye to the rear end of the year passed.

                          2008 has been what I can only describe as the worst year of my life, and I wont bore you with the details, and it did see so happy moments, like getting married in March. It just all went pear shaped after that!

                          Now I find myself with an opportunity to wipe my mind clean, freshen up my spirit and focus on what good can come to me now, and here I am with open arms begging the good times to come on in!

                          Some things we have no control over in life, and the powers that be make those choices, but there are a few things, and some choices laid in our path which we can control, and therefore should.

                          No more little violins playing sad little songs....

                          So in 2009 what would I like to achieve?

                          I would like to have paid off all four yes thats FOUR credit cards by this date 2009.
                          I would like to have a secure job and regular income. At the moment I have a job but am facing redundancy, not pretty!
                          I would like to have my next tattoo done.
                          I would like to have completed decorating my new house.
                          I would like to have improved my eating habits to 3 meals a day, healthy ones that is.

                          Those are my main ones, and I think they are pretty safe and achievable.

                          There are also a couple more which are more pipe dreams which I dont want to jinx by writing about!
                          What can I do to achieve these?
                          Well first and foremost I've actually got to try!
                          Secondly I've got to take responsibilty for achieving these things. I cant expect life to hand my what I want on a plate anymore.

                          So too 2009 I look forward with a sense of hope, fear, optimism and naive affection. Just hoping it doesnt bite me in the ass like 2008 did!

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                            23.12.2008 21:39
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                            You never know what you might find

                            I'm not the greatest when it comes to charity shopping, mainly because I'm not a very good browser, and I hate rummaging through things, and I am one of those people who never finds bargains. They always go to the person in front of me!

                            Now what do I dislike about charity shops?
                            1. The smell
                            9 times out of 10 there is that general charity shop smell, which reminds me of lonely old people, musty damp lofts and cold.
                            2. The temperature
                            I feel really bad for the people who volunteer their time to work in the charity stores local to me, who are working in fingerless gloves because they cant afford to have any heating on.
                            3. Theft
                            My Nan, god love her, volunteers in her local shelter shop, and has done for many a year, and can you believe that people steal from charity shops?! I cant believe that people steal in general overall because its still something that doesnt belong to them, but somehow it just feels worse when its in a charity shop
                            4. Price
                            Now dont get me wrong, I know that the money covers costs and the rest to the charity affiliated but considering that charity stores have more hurdles to get over due to get people through their doors, you have even more reason to be price competitive.
                            Books are a big area where people dont feel "as shamed" buying secondhand and so for a lot of charity shops, this is where they can make some money, I've been into stores though and seen books at double the price you can get hold of them in discount stores.
                            5.Quality of goods
                            Beggars cant be choosers and I know that, and this is not really a comment about charity stores but more aimed at what people take in to charity stores. I've heard tales of unwashed clothing (noticeably!), broken (as in destroyed) clothing, and people's general housing rubbish.
                            Someone gives up their time, and puts in a lot of effort to go through these donations and some of it is actually "unsafe", and poses a real risk to those volunteers, so I just wish peopl would think of others.

                            What do I like given all those negatives??

                            1. Emotional Well-Being
                            I like the feeling I get buying something from a charity shop, feeling like my small contribution is still a contribution no less, and the sense of pride that goes along with that.
                            2. Bargains
                            Who doesnt love getting a bargain?
                            Yesterday I went into a local store and found a large box of brand new Next pot pourri for £1..... a £1! I couldn't even make it myself for less than that.
                            One man's trash is often another man's treasure.
                            3. Ever changing items
                            Thats one beauty of a charity shop. You will never get them exact same ranging.
                            I often feel like this with general high street stores, nothing ever really changes, its the same things, but in "this years colour".
                            4. Faith in human nature
                            The effort the volunteers go through really endears me to charity shops. They have so much to contend with with Ebay, Freecycle, boot fairs and the high street giants, and yet no matter what charity shop I go into the staff are always cheery and so very very thankful to you even for just visiting.
                            I also love the effort they put in (in my local ones anyway!) with things like their shop window displays. Considering they never know what stock they will have from one day to the next, and they always try to stay on the ball with colour combinations etc. high street giants know what they will get and often have their window arrangements emailed over, and it takes very little though, so it actually means more what they can do in charity shops.

                            The over-riding factor with charity shops is that you are helping others. I have a few favorite charity shops and I also choose not to visit some others, mainly because of the apparent ethos they operate under which to me isnt charity, but hey every high street is different as is every charity shop.

                            My advice, pop in every once in a while because that one true bargainous find you may come across will mean more to you than any high street bought product, guaranteed!

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                            • Debt Help in General / Discussion / 81 Readings / 73 Ratings
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                              22.12.2008 21:46
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                              5 Stars for the effort needed!

                              I wish I could be writing this and telling you all about how I cleared my debt in six months.

                              Tragically that is not where I am writing this from.

                              Bit of background for you, 24 years old, married and in debt, £18k of it to be exact.
                              This however is down from £27k in a year so really we're not doing too badly.

                              What advice can I give to those who are in debt.
                              Face it numero uno. Its not going away, you can clamp your eyes shut, scream at the mail-man, spend on your credit card till the cows come home but it will still be there, like a mangy rabid dog at your heels.
                              The sooner you face it, and say "Hello Debt" the sooner you can say "Debt you can kiss my ass"...

                              Add it all up. If you dont know what you owe where, then call the companies and ask them for a current account balance.
                              I've been really lucky to face up to our debts before the phone calls started and any debt recovery companies came knocking.
                              It is so much easier to discuss paymnt options with your credit card/loan providers than the middle man.

                              Set up a direct debit to each and every one of them for the minimum payment and arrange for this to leave your account at least 3 working days before the amount is due. If you contact your credit card providers to arrange this, they will always call for it before your due date. Meaning you dont then pay any late charges.

                              Secondly visit a site called whatsthecost.com. This has a fantastic "snowball calculator" into which you add all your creditors, amounts owed, APR percentages and minimum payment amount.
                              Add in how much you can afford to use to service your debts and this handy little thing will work out for you which debts to overpay to, and in which order to make sure you pay as little interest as possible!
                              It puts it into a calendar type form and if you save the account you can use it to track your progress, by adding your payment amounts to the creditors each month.
                              Seeing the progress can really spur you on!

                              Secondly and I cannot recommend this site without literally wetting myself, is moneysavingexpert. This site has so much information regarding credit cards, loans, debt payment plans.

                              Thirdly budgets......
                              Not the type that come in a battered little brief case carried once by the Fat Brown himself. Instead I mean literally what goes in and what comes out.
                              Look through your bank statements, as hard as it is and be honest with yourself. If you are spending £20 a week on takeaways write it down. Identify areas of weakness and aim for improvement. Dont try to live in beans for a week because you'll only crash and burn and end up going crazy!
                              Try once a fortnight instead... and then once a month.

                              Earn extra income.
                              There are lots of sites out there just begging to give you money for very little. Moneyback websites for general shopping are great, try moneybackmadness or quidco, writing reviews on all those things you bought on your credit card can earn you something back try ciao.co.uk.... and of course dooyoo!

                              Grocery spends.
                              Put simply spend less, make more.
                              Whats the point in buying a shepards pie when you can make either a double size portion for the same as you spend on one ready made, or spend less making your own single size.
                              Eat more vegetables, they are cheaper, more filling and better for you.
                              Lunches at work, are you a victim of M&S food hall, or the Boots Meal Deal? No more I tell you, make your own sandwich, buy tins of soup to take it, make pasta at home. My husband used to spend £5+ a day on food, and now spends less than £10 for an entire week!

                              Savings are everywhere.
                              Make sure you have the best deal on everything, dont be afraid to phone your providers and ask for better deals. They want to make sure your money stays with them, rather than taking it somewhere else!
                              Phones, broadband, cable tv, insurance are all there for you to make savings on.

                              And when you've made those savings, even if its £1 a month, is extra you can use to pay your debt.....

                              Debt itself is not nice. Ive had sleepless nights, had to miss out on social events, been through an emotional rollercoaster, but you know what? I would not change it for the world.

                              The lessons I have learnt will stand me in good stead for the rest of my life, and will mean that once this albatross is released from the chain around my neck, all those beautiful pounds that I work hard to earn, will be mine, all mine.....

                              Whatever will I spend it on!?

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                              • Matalan / Highstreet Shopping / 44 Readings / 39 Ratings
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                                22.12.2008 18:20
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                                Based on my experience of the Canterbury store 22/12/2008

                                Matalan in Canterbury have today earned themselves 1 hour of mine and my mums time, and £50 of our cash too.

                                Good god I hear you say, what were they buying!?
                                Well a bit of background first and foremost.
                                I can only comment on the Canterbury,Kent store as its the only one I've ever been to.
                                I went there at 12pm today, 22nd December and to be perfectly honest I expected absolute carnage!
                                Thankfully there was no such thing.
                                Located in an out of town retail park on the Sturry Road, it houses a large selections of ladies wear, childrens clothing is the probably the second largest section, followed by menswear and homewares.
                                Having recently undergone a refit, it now also offers a large section dedicated to party wares, so invitations, paper plates, streamers, fancy dress, items for hen and stag parties, helium balloons, and plenty more besides, I was quite shocked to see it there in fact, and I just walked through it because I wasnt in the marker for a barbie polystrene cup, but when I am, I'll know where to go!!!!

                                Womenswear is obviously the big money maker for them and so occupies the largest section of the store.
                                Over te past 4 or 5 years that I've been visiting Matalan I've seen the ranges improve drastically but at the same time I have also seen the prices creep up ever so slightly. Its still a lot cheaper than Next, H&M, Zara, Debenhams and the such like, but its more expensive than Primark and Peacocks.

                                The range has also got a lot more fashion-savy over the years but still generally focuses on the 30+ market. There are some more fashion-wear ranges, but you can always rely on certain constants in there like the more business range suiting, and the granny knits and longer skirts.
                                As a lucky person who has never grown since being about 14, I find the sizing to be very generous and as such I do have to be careful with some things, as their 8 is more like a 10, but then there 12 is a tight 14, but then after that they stay quite true to size as my mum and nan inform me.

                                I have bought some clothes from there especially for work, as I begrudge spending money on black trousers for work, so £6 a pair suits me fine!
                                The accessories range is also very reasonable with complentary colour ranges in their jewellery. Dont expect it to last forever, after all it is only fashion jewellery!
                                The underwear range has in my opinion dwindled in the past few years which is a shame, and I much prefer visiting Primark for these kind of things now.

                                Homewares however today is where it redeemed itself for me.
                                They have a 1/2 Price Sale on today with homewares and their seasonal product and I did really well on stocking up on items for next Christmas, wrapping paper and cards.

                                I'll shortly be moving home as well and so needed to pick up some new items such as tupperware, and am pleased with the quality of these items.
                                I have before now also bought duvet covers, but these seemed to be fewer in range perhaps to make way for their festive offering.

                                There are also lots of little things to pick up such as scented candles, lamps, rugs and cushions. Which I deemed as good buys now, as they were half price but I would have been annoyed paying the full price for these, as they arent in my opinion that competitive with the offerings from Debenhams etc.

                                Queues can be through the roof one minute and then practically noone there the next. Staffing is also very erractic, and you'll be hard pushed to find anyone in the aisles or shopfloor and generally end up either asking the staff in the fitting rooms or on the till.

                                You do have to hold a matalan card to shop there. Years ago Im sure this was to reap back on the discounts you were given as signing up used to cost £1. I signed up to my own card about 2 years ago (normally just used my mums), and it didnt cost me a penny.

                                From what I can gather now, the swiping on your card simply means they can keep tabs on your spending habits and therefore send you promotional material in the post which is normally just a small seasonal catalogue.

                                I havent checked recently (in the last month), but you can't shop online but you can browse a small selection of their ranges on their website.

                                Not really a lot else I can say really. Quality of goods is the general high street standard, stores can get a bit messy after big trading weekends, but so can everywhere, you can sign up for a card there and then, so you dont have to wait for it to come in the post, sales are generally pretty good discounts, so perfect to use for stocking up ahead, as I have done today.
                                Clothing doesnt really do a lot for me as I struggle with the sizing but I do enjoy rooting through their homewares.
                                Price wise, I'd try Primark first, and then to Matalan....

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                                • More +
                                  22.12.2008 17:53
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                                  Be prepared!

                                  Its tough isnt it?
                                  Christmas at the moment, feels like it hurts.
                                  My head hurts, my feet hurt, and my actual spiritual being hurts.

                                  The constant barrage of Christmas adverts, the feeling that consumer Christmas is being shoved down your throat, I've currently hit the point where I want to stick two fingers up at Christmas and say no more!

                                  So I'm a bit too late for Christmas2008, and so 2009 is my new aim (I know its only Dec 08 but bear with me please!)

                                  The people I choose to give gifts to are now all at the point in their lives where they dont really want anything, they definitely dont need anything, nor can they find space or the general effort to seem vaguely pleased about the general cr&p I've been giving them for the past three or four years.

                                  So homemade gifts, what do I plan on giving next year.
                                  Well I'll confess not 100% of this will be made at home, but I'm going to try as much as I can.

                                  Nans and older female relatives :
                                  I went into my local Matalan today and bought 2 large gold charger plates, one round and one square.
                                  My plan with these are to make pot pourri gift sets.
                                  These plates only cost me £1 each and I also got a bag decorative twiggy ball type things, costing my £1 for the bag which I can split between two.
                                  My plan is to then slice some oranges, and dry these out slowly, and add to the mix, with some cinnammon sticks, and some dried out fire cones which I can get foraging in the local *free* greenery.
                                  I've got some my hands on some refresher oil which I can spritz over these, over a few occassions to make sure that the fragrance holds.
                                  Using some cellophane (which you can buy online/stationers), wrap these over all together and cross some ribbon over, with a lovely gift tag.
                                  All in all I predict that these will cost me less than £4 each but made with love and care (and theres no price tag on that).

                                  Grandads/Older Chaps
                                  They all love making something (generally a mess!), so I've found online a step by step guide to making your own birdhouse/bat boxes.
                                  So my local B&Q sell wood, and will cut it for you, so I'm going to buy some wood and have it all cut to measurements from the instructions.
                                  If you have got it to hand though, you can cut these all yourself with an electric saw. The pieces wont be too large either so not too much mess to be made!
                                  Then buying some wood paint (a nice forest green I think) from somewhere like Wilkinson for about £2, a small paintbrush (less than £1), and put tie it all together with raffia/twine, with a print out of the instructions in an envelope together.
                                  Total cost probably £10 or under dependant on how cheap you can get the wood!

                                  One for the ladies
                                  If the ladies in your life like cooking/baking, get a kilner jar or jam jar, weigh out all the dry ingredients needed for shortcake/fairy cakes/muffins etc, sieve and mix together, put together in the jar, seal and write on some natural card the rest of the instructions i.e mix in 1 egg, 200ml of milk etc. Hole punch through the corner and tie the instruction card round the lid.
                                  If you can as well, get hold of a small wooden spoon (wilkinsons about 35p!), and tie this on as well.
                                  If you can picture a shaker style gift, thats what Im aiming for.
                                  Total cost (excluding the ingredients because of course we all home bake so we've got those in already!), so jar,spoon,tag £3 or less.

                                  I'm also trying my hand at knitting this year, and so am going to try my hand at knitting a tea cosy. Making it my sole aim in 2009 to bring back the knitted tea cosy into popular culture. If you search long and hard enough, you'll find a free pattern online on how to make these.
                                  You could either find some wool/needles in a charity shop, print the instructions and give as a hobby style gift, or knit it yourself, and give it as well as a teapot and a box of teabags.

                                  Or (now I've stolen this from M&S as I was absolutely shocked!)
                                  Search online for a pattern for a mug cosy. If you cant find one simply knit a rectangle about 7cm wide and long enough to fit round a mug, attach a single button and create a button hole on the other end. This will then fit round a mug, and the button will attach it together inbetween the handles.
                                  Cheap pastel shade mug (99p stores/wilkinson), small sample box of teabags, and even knit a square in same wool as your mug cosy, to use as a coaster.
                                  I couldnt believer the M&S were charging £7 for this when I saw them!!!
                                  I predict total cost on this will be around less than £4...

                                  Whatever you do dont throw any tins out this xmas, or in the sales buy tins that have been reduced, and a few days before xmas, bake your own gingerbread cookies/biscuits, place in tin and seal, total cost for this would be less than £2.

                                  There is a hidden photographer within all of us.
                                  Go out for a day in the winter, spring, summer or autumn, to a beach, woods, even your garden and just snap away with a digital camera.
                                  Plants, Forest scenes, waves, puddles, beautiful buildings etc, when you get home, upload onto your pc, and play about with colour effects, black and white, sepia etc.
                                  On Ebay are plenty of companys who will put your photo onto a canvas, for not too bad a price, and its perfectly original that way as well!
                                  Costs, depedant on the size of canvas you go for say £20 upward.
                                  I'll be doing one of musical instruments, so close up of guitar stringer, drum kits etc, rolled up leads on microphones for my music mad uncle.

                                  Now I'll admit not all of them are totally homemade, but then I dont have the greatest creative ability, so I cant paint for people, or create pieces of furniture, or beautiful cross stitches etc.

                                  But it sure beats paying £20 plus for a plastic wrapped piece of crap!

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