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Friday, 23 December 2016

Crunchy Chocolate Biscuit Truffles: Christmas Countdown

Christmas Post: final post     Christmas Countdown: 2 days

This is the last of my Christmas Countdown posts and my final post for this year! And what better way to end it than with a crunchy and delicious Chocolate Biscuit Truffles recipe. A fun, festive snack or a perfect, party treat - so simple and they barely create any washing up!

Ingredients for Chocolate Biscuit Truffles
I can't believe 2016 is almost coming to an end! I am pleased that this year I acheived my ambition of starting and maintaining a blog and I've been blogging for almost 3 months! As much as I enjoy it I do need a break to enjoy the festivities.

2016 has presented really good moments as well as low moments but I am excited to see what 2017 will bring; hopefully, lots more creativity so keep watching for my new posts about all things creative!

I am so grateful to everyone who has read and supported my blog this year and I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

1. Melt the butter in a pan.
2. Whilst the butter is melting crush the biscuits in a bag.
3. Once the pan has cooled mix all of the ingredients together in the pan.
4. Pour the mixture into a tray, divide it into squares using a knife and place in the fridge for a few hours.
5. Roll the squares into balls.
6. Coat the balls in your desired toppings (suggestions: coconut, grated chocolate, pistachio nuts) or leave plain and place each ball into truffle paper cases.


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Magical Lantern Festival Review: Christmas Countdown

Christmas Post: 7      Christmas Countdown: 4 days
On Sunday evening myself and my Mom visited The Birmingham Botanical Gardens but not to look at plants! Instead to view something so much more magical - the Magical Lantern Festival (MLF).

MLF, "a spectacular fusion of art, heritage and culture", takes you on a journey of illuminations through the trees and bushes. They aren't ordinary Christmas illuminations; lantern scenes of all colours, shapes and sizes, lit up amongst the trees, create a visual feast for your eyes.

Scenes include the Iconic Birmingham Bull statue formed out of lanterns.

There are even stalls selling yummy food to indulge in along the way such as The Marshmallowist. Offering intriguing flavours, such as raspberry & champagne, this stall makes the magical experience 'toasty' by allowing you to warm your marshmallow over a firepit.

And to finish The Little Camion awaits with Ferrero Rocher, Terry's Chocolate Orange or Bailey's hot chocolates, crêpes and Nutella galore on offer - food and drink creations to make your mouth water.

Fact File
Location: The Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Opening times: 25/11/16 - 02/01/16
Ticket prices: Starts at £12.50 for Adults & £8.50 for Children (Wowcher/Groupon deals available)
Duration: Takes approx 1 hour to walk around.
History: Established in October 2015 MLF made its UK debut at Chiswick House Gardens in January 2016 and attracted 110,000 visitors. Following this success it launched in Birmingham this year.
Heritage: The giant lanterns, which visitors will explore, represent Christmas, traditional Chinese culture and the astonishing 2000-year heritage of Lantern Festivals.

It is the first year the MLF has illuminated Birmingham so I had no idea what to expect but I was amazed. It's just the escape you sometimes need from all the crazy Christmas hustle and bustle.

It's called the Magical Lantern Festival because it really is magical!

But don't just take my word for it, go and see for yourself. It is a lovely trip out to entertain young children or a festive activity to do with friends or perhaps even a romantic evening for you and someone special. Whatever the occasion prepare to be amazed by a magical land of Christmas lights.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

DIY Creative Christmas Cards: Christmas Countdown

Christmas Post: 6      Christmas Countdown: 7 days
You can get such a varied range of crafty Christmas cards in the shops these days but we all know receiving handmade cards makes us feel just that bit more special because they are personal.

I know you're thinking it's only a week until Christmas but it isn't too late to create some personalised Christmas cards. By following my quick & easy guide to DIY creative Christmas cards you can still make sure everyone on your list has their own unique, arty, festive card design...

You Will Need
  • Plain cards & envelopes in your desired colour (Hobbycraft have a good selection)
  • A festive stencil or image from the internet (to create your own stencil)
  • Spray paint(s) of your desired colour(s)
  • Christmas stickers
  • Blue tac
  • Scissors
  • Plain, thin white card (suitable for printing)

Get Creating

Choose your festive stencil or choose an image of any festive shape you like from the internet. If you already have a stencil skip step two.
2 If you have chosen an image from the internet print it onto your plain, thin card. Then cut out your image, starting from the centre, to leave your stencil outline.
3 Place your stencil in position, on top of your plain Christmas card, and use Blu Tack to secure it.
4 Follow the instructions on your spray paint and spray into the stencil - ensure the remainder of the card is covered with scrap paper so that no spray paint will reach it.
5 Allow it to completely dry before gently peeling the stencil away from the card. This will reveal your festive spray paint shape; if it smudges slightly don't worry because it all adds to the arty effect.
6 Add your desired Christmas stickers and they're ready to send!

Keep the design simple or add some sequins, add a colourful star or just go completely multi-coloured. The decision is yours but creating personal Christmas cards will definitely have you feeling festive too! Give it a try and share your designs :)

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Personal Festive Traditions: Christmas Countdown

Christmas Post: 5     Christmas Countdown: 11 days

Do you have any creative or unusual festive traditions?

We all have personal festive traditions that signify Christmas to us. It might be watching a certain Christmas film, going to a specific carol concert, visiting certain family...Whatever it is, because we repeat them every year, it's almost as if they become the 'norm' at Christmas.

It's always nice to hear about people's unique traditions so I want to share some of mine with you.

Real Christmas Tree
Each year, during the first weekend of December, we turn on the Christmas tunes, decorate the house and pop out to buy a real Christmas tree. This to me signals the 'real' beginning of Christmas. Unfortunately, I'm allergic to real Christmas trees; luckily this is only if I touch them so I can still enjoy the experience of getting the tree and admire it.

Family Christmas Meal
Every year myself, my mom, dad and brother all get together (which is quite rare these days) and we go out to basically stuff our faces with delicious food.The location and date changes each year but the celebration doesn't. This year we went to Akram's (a Kashmiri restaurant) and did just that! We were so full we could barely move. This definitely signifies Christmas and I always look forward to it.

Dr Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
How the Grinch Stole Christmas has to be one of my favourite Christmas films. Without realising it watching this film has become a festive tradition for me. Every year I watch this film and I even have a specific occassion now. I save it to watch until the week before Christmas - the wait even makes it a little more exciting (sad I know). If I didn't watch it, it wouldn't feel like Christmas.

These aren't the most creative traditions but they are traditions that we created ourselves at least! What are yours?

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Christmas Countdown: Inspirational Christmas Creativity

Christmas Post: 4   Christmas Countdown: 14 days

As part of my Christmas countdown, with just two weeks to go, I am focussing on all the inspiring Christmas creativity around us.

Whilst I was Christmas shopping, on Friday, I only had to pop into Paperchase and my eyes were met with loads of colourful, unique and beautiful Christmas Creations. I want to share my inspiring finds...

Floral gift wrap - wrapping sheet prices vary.

A bold floral gift wrap which really makes any gift a striking statement.

8 Inky snowflake charity Christmas cards - £3.50

Their arty design print is very unique. See them online.

2ft Rainbow Christmas Tree - £8.50

These Christmas trees which are all the colours of the rainbow truly are eyecatching and have been flying off the shelves. They only have a limited amount of 2ft trees left in store but they are also available in an original 4ft skinny style. View it online.

I hope these Christmas creations have inspired you as much as they've inspired my Christmas card designs. I won't give anything away because I'll be featuring a 'how to: creative Christmas card making' post soon. They really will be innovative designs so watch out for the post!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Christmas Countdown: Have Yourself a Merry Mindful Christmas

Christmas Post: 3     Christmas Countdown: 18 days
As you probably noticed this post's title is a famous festive song... with a difference. We all want Christmas to be Merry but we musn't forget about being Mindful as well.

As part of my Christmas Countdown this also leads us to December's Mindfulness of the Month post.

All that rushing around wondering "have I got gifts for everyone?", "do I need a new outfit for that Christmas party?", the preparations for that annual epic dinner, all the partying and travelling to meet with loved ones.

Whilst this is all fun sometimes the hectic nature of Christmas and the pressure to make it 'perfect' means this is when we need to be mindful the most.

We take a lot of things for granted at Christmas because we are so focussed on the 'big day'. We forget to enjoy the whole experience - we just need to take a step back and reconnect with our senses.

12 Days of Mindful Christmas
Here is a list of 12 activities, recommended by experts, to make sure you have 12 Mindful days of Christmas.

(Of course you can choose when to do which or repeat certain activities if you find one which works well for you. Plus they aren't just for the 12 days of Christmas - use them in the lead up too!)

1. Each morning think of something you are grateful for - it will help to begin the day positively.
2. Listen to Christmas tunes - really listen to the song lyrics and sing along.
3. Treat yourself not just your friends/family e.g. eat chocolate - don't forget yourself at Christmas.
4. Sit in a room with Christmas lights on - really notice the wonderful colours and relax.
5. Give plenty of hugs - experts say this reduces stress and even helps fight infections.
6. Bake a tasty festive treat - don't rush, take your time and enjoy it.
7. Go for a walk in the winter air - sometimes the cold can calm you.
8. Watch Christmas films - really get in the Christmas spirit with a festive film.
9. Do something spontaneous e.g. unplanned shopping - apparently we enjoy the unexpected more.
10. Add a Christmas diffuser - fill a room with seasonal smells and really notice them.
11. Meet a friend for a festive drink - not to 'tick something off your list' but because you want to.
12. And, if it snows, build a snowman!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Christmas Countdown: Need Christmas Decorating Inspiration?

Christmas Post: 2     Christmas Countdown: 21 days

The first weekend in December is when the majority of us really start to get in the Christmas spirit by decorating our homes.

But do you want to create something different with your decorating this Christmas? Perhaps out do your neighbours? Or are you simply stuck with what image to go for this year?

Well do not fear - here is 5 Christmas theme ideas which may help inspire your creativity this Christmas...

1 The Traditionalist
If you are short on time this year one option is keeping it simple and sticking with the traditional red and gold colours of Christmas. There is something about these two colours which just clicks - the red without the gold would be like the turkey without the stuffing.

2 Modern Makeover
Create some modern magic by making over your house, right down to the cracking accessories, with white and silver this Christmas. These subtle colours add extra sparkle to Christmas when the lights glisten on them.

3 Calming Christmas
Christmas is called the holidays for a reason - it is about chilling and taking it easy even if it is just on the day itself. So turn your Christmas purple or blue for a relaxing festive season.

4 Rustic/Shabby Chic
A rustic approach will create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Snuggling up in style inside is the best thing for a frosty Christmas outside and this theme will accompany those cosy Christmas treats.

5 Bold Statement
Go all out and turn your whole house into a winter wonderland with one specific theme. Be daring with Disney to create a Christmas to remember for both kids and adults.

Which festive theme is your favourite? What have you done with your decorations this Christmas?

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Christmas Countdown: My Creative Trip to Cardiff

Christmas Post: 1     Christmas Countdown: 24 days

It's December 1st so that means many of us have started opening our advent doors or burning our advent candles to countdown to Christmas! Whatever type of advent you have I have created another one for you to open on my blog. In my new series Christmas Countdown every week, from now until Christmas, I will be posting at least one creative, Christmas themed post. Expect festive food and drink (because ditching the diet is what Christmas is all about), Christmas crafts and lots more... it's going to be exciting!

As a newbie blogger I decided not to completely dive into Blogmas this year - a term I have just discovered and, for those of you wondering, it's when you post every single day up until Christmas - but I hope you enjoy my festive countdown all the same. Please let me know your favourite features and what you want to see more of.

It would only be right to begin this series on December 1st. This was not actually intentional but I have just returned from a trip to Cardiff, where I was attending a postgraduate open day, and there was so much creativity which had me feeling festive I want to share my experience with you all.

I hadn't realised how much I had been missing out on so I would say check out my festive favourites because Cardiff at Christmas is definitely not to be missed!

The The Frozen Express in Cardiff - the 'coolest' train ever
The Frozen Express 
As I was walking through the city I came across this amazing discovery - a Frozen themed train! And no matter how old you are you can't deny being a Frozen fan. Although I'm small I'm unsure I would've been able to sneak on this train so a photo had to do.

Santa may get a bit cold in front of that windmill
- Cardiff Christmas Market

Cardiff Christmas Market
Like many cities Cardiff has its own Christmas Market but this cute, little set of wooden stalls sells a variety of creative and crafty items. Unfortunately, I didn't have much time to look around but I would defintely return and I recommend visiting. Check out the Cardiff Christmas Market website for more details.

A rather big wheel at Cardiff's Winter Wonderland

Cardiff Winter Wonderland
If you have been to London at Christmas then you will know all about Winter Wonderland and you'll be excited to hear that Cardiff has one too! Whilst it is on a smaller scale it  includes festive food stands and funfair rides. It is set in beautiful surroundings, and great news for me as a prospective student, it is right by Cardiff University. Imagine finishing a lecture and just popping over the road for some warm roasted chestnuts and a go on the Giant Wheel. Find out more about their Winter Wonderland.

Have you ever experienced Cardiff at Christmas? Share your experience.