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Friday, 24 March 2017

5 FREE, Innovative Ways to Say Thank You Mom

Our Mothers do so much for us on a daily basis which we often take for granted. So it is great that we have a whole day each year dedicated to thanking them. That day is of course Mother's Day and this year it is just around the corner.

Sunday 26 March is the perfect opportunity to say "thank you Mom" but just how to we say it? Do we fight with the rest of the country to book a table at a busy restaurant, stick to the standard chocolates and flowers or worry about whether we have spent enough?

If you're still looking for something different to do, but on a budget, then there's still time; check out these 5 FREE & creative ways to make Mother's Day 2017 special in Birmingham and beyond.

Curds and Whey - a cheese stall at mac's Food Market
1 Visit mac birmingham's Food Market
Featuring a range of street foods and freshly made treats from a selection of cheeses to Tex-Mex and gluten-free/vegan bakes this free market fills mac with its mouthwatering aromas every month. It always falls on the final Sunday of every month and this month so does Mother's Day making it the ideal, tasty and alternative way to spend the day. Visit mac birmingham's website for information about stall holders and opening times.

A view of the bridge over the lake at Cannon Hill Park
2 Go for a walk in Cannon Hill Park
Tie in a leisurely walk at Birmingham's most popular park with your visit to mac's Food Market. Located in south Birmingham the 250 acre space, which includes woodland and a lake, is perfect for wondering around, picnicking or recreational activities. Visit Birmingham City Council's website for more details. Alternatively, if you don't live near Birmingham find a green space local to you and enjoy a family walk there.

3 Write a letter to your Mom
Words cost nothing and yet sometimes they can mean the most. So why not write a thank you letter to your Mom to let her know just how much she means to you. Avid bloggers this is particularly a great idea for you; you are used to writing regularly so why not use your skills to create something amazing. It is exactly what I did and trust me this is sure to be the most special gift she will receive.

4 Bring the spa to your home 
You know those face masks and foot creams you have been meaning to use? Well now is the time. There's no need to travel miles for a spa day; simply re-create a relaxing sanctuary at home. Fetch the robes, slippers and smellies and stay in with your Mom for a pamper day - a peaceful retreat without having to move a muscle.

5 Bake without buying a thing
You may be wondering how it is possible to cook without buying anything. Easy! - use up leftovers or ingredients you already have in your home. If you're stuck for ideas take a look at BBC Good Food's list of recipes which use only the contents of your cupboards. There's enough ideas to cook a three course meal or even create your own afternoon tea. Who needs the hassle of cramped dining spaces and trying to book a table anyway?

Friday, 17 March 2017

Simple Salmon & Leek Parcel in 5 minutes

After a nutritious and enjoyable meal but pushed for time or don't want to faff? Look no further than this superb, simple salmon recipe which takes only a short time to prepare and just 5 minutes to cook.

This was my go to quick and healthy meal when I was a student and didn't have much time or didn't want to spend ages cooking - and let's face it what student does?!

This nifty parcel is the perfect student supper or great for when you step in after a long day at work. You can even prepare it in the morning, leave it in the fridge and just pop it in the microwave when you want it for a super quick supper!

And it is super tasty too! Super, simple and satisfyingly good.

1. Season the salmon fillet and thinly slice the leek. Cut approximately a 40cm-square sheet of greaseproof paper and place the salmon fillet in the centre of it. Top it with the sliced leek, the peas and the creme fraiche. Sprinkle the tarragon on top and add some salt and pepper to taste.
2. Seal the paper parcel and stand it on a microwave-proof plate. Microwave on full power for 5 minutes. Transfer the contents of the parcel onto a plate and top with the extra spoonful of creme fraiche. Serve straight away.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

5 Spring Styles which will Transform your Walls

The sun is starting to shine more, the weather is getting (slightly) warmer and new life is 'springing' up all over the place. That can only mean one thing - Spring is almost here! During the season known for 'newness' re-decorating rises as a lot of us like to create a new look in our homes. Here are 5 Spring wallpaper trends guaranteed to transform a wall, a room or your entire home. Popular retail outlets are offering something to suit everyone and every budget.

Floral wallpaper prints tend to be available all year round but they are especially relevant for Spring. New flowers are sprouting outside and with it come new floral wallpaper designs which definitely reflect the bright colours of Spring inside. Whether you want to opt for subtle by covering an entire room with delicate botanical prints or are feeling flamboyant and want to let the seasons popular plum colour take pride of place, on a feature wall, there is something for all floral fans.

1. Marissa Plum: Homebase, £8.88, pattern no: 267085. 2. Teal Botanical WallpaperNext, £18, pattern no: 829-432. 3. Plum, Cream & Black Genoa MotifB&Q, £15, pattern no: 859358. 4. Dark Floral Bloom: Next, £18, pattern no: 753-434. 

Whilst this 14th century weave has been covering walls for a while it is still a popular decor choice, it seems, with plenty of modernised designs to choose from. These include dramatic designs for a grand entrance or metallic and glittery finished motif prints to add sparkle to any room. 

5. Cream & Red Damask Glitter Effect: B&Q, £18, pattern no: 1530011. 6. Drama Purple Damask Metallic: B&Q, £18, pattern no: 1278891. 7. Montague Blue Damask: B&Q, £25, pattern no: 307401.

An increase in patterns of tree branches on wallpapers are again attempting to bring the nature of Spring indoors. However, some of these unique designs, such as colour injected feathers and bold beetles amongst bright butterflies, add a bold twist to the word natural.

8. Birch Tree Natural: Homebase, £12.99, pattern no: 209731. 9. Delamere Copper Grey: Homebase, £14.99, pattern no: 208577. 10. Butterflies: Next, £30, pattern no: 839-688. 11. K2 Feather: B&Q, £15, pattern no: 1484887.

Taking us somewhere a little more exotic is the noticable rise in innovative, tropical wallpaper designs. Featuring an array of tropical wildlife from flamingos and parrots to palm trees they allow us to transform our homes into a tropical paradise this Spring.

12. Cocktail Floral: B&Q, £14, pattern no: 173929. 13. SFE Tropical Bloom Green: Homebase, £17.99, pattern no: 521475. 14. Charcoal & Pink Flamingo Mica: B&Q, £14, pattern no: 1274356. 15. Tropical Parrot Metallic Effect: B&Q, £16, pattern no: 1521431.

If the city life is more for you, in complete contrast to the tropical theme, there are a variety of famous city wallpaper prints on offer. The latest innovations of this trend, which has been around for a while, make text a prominent feature amongst images of the Big Apple and in the form of London street signs; perfect for adding a lively vibe to any room.

16. New York Photographic: B&Q, £14, pattern no: 1528284. 17. Black & Gold London Street Names: B&Q, £15, pattern no: 307313.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Typewriting: The Old Fashioned Form of Blogging

Me, testing out my typewriting skills
For the majority of aspiring journalists and writers there are many things we dream of doing, perhaps it's interviewing someone famous, having our own weekly column or even travelling to exotic locations to review them. Typewriting isn't one of the first things which comes to mind but it should be and I want to tell you why.

It was a cold February day when I visited Upton House and Gardens, near Banbury, and got to try my hand at typewriting. They had it staged to reflect a country house at war. As I stepped into what was known as the Long Gallery it was like stepping back in time; I came across something I wasn't really expecting - a room full of typewriters.

During the Second World War country houses were taken over to protect bank staff and assets from the London air raids and so Upton House became the Country House Bank. In the 1940's typewriters and office desks would have been used in the house to deal with war matters.

Currently they are allowing visitors to sit at the desks and use the typewriters just like the staff would have done. I am a fairly fast typist on a normal keyboard so when it was my turn to take to the typewriter I expected to be a whiz. But how wrong was I?! It was like learning to type all over again. It only took me a whole five minutes to produce two sentences which included two minor errors. Okay, so what I produced is not going to win any writing contests but I’m proud of my piece (below).

My amazing writing piece showcasing my typewriting skills
I'm proud of it because an activity I hadn't previously thought much about has actually taught me one of my most valuable lessons.

Using typewriters, or 'the old fashioned form of blogging' as I like to call it, meant there was no delete button if you made a mistake, no auto correct or spell check- one mistake and you had to start again. Imagine finishing those crucial first 500 words of your 5,000 word essay, noticing a mistake and having to type the whole thing again!

Keep creating & keep innovating
In the 21st century we give our thumbs a good daily work out by replying to countless messages and sending emails on the go and we use tablets in place of computers.

The tools we have make it so easy to constantly be writing. Typewriting teaches us to be grateful for creativity and innovation because, whilst writing is a powerful tool, the methods we have to express it are even more so. Without typewriters and innovation 'us bloggers' couldn't be bloggers.

Keep innovating and keep creating everyone.

Have you ever tried typewriting?

Visit Upton House and Gardens' website for more information and to try typewriting yourself. To try typewriting closer to home you can also do it at the Pen Museum in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Quick & Delicious Millionaire's Shortbread Pancakes

The day for flipping pancakes and challenging ourselves to make different yummy pancake
creations is just around the corner! It's tomorrow and it's Pancake Day of course!

And here's the ultimate pancake recipe which you do not want to miss out on...Millionaire's Shortbread Pancakes! You heard right - all of the yummy toppings and flavours of Millionare's Shortbread but on a pancake! What could be better?! They are super simple to make and sure to have you flippin' with excitement.

The topping amount is not specific, simply use as much as you desire.

1. Make a batch of basic pancakes and allow to cool slightly on a flat plate.

I know the majority of us 'pancakers' all have our favourite recipes which we stick to but here is Delia Smith's basic pancake recipe; we always use this recipe in my house and my mother swears by it because "adding butter to the pancake mix makes all the difference". The only thing you need to adjust is step 5 and instead add the amazing, scrumptious toppings (below) to turn ordinary pancakes into Millionaire's Shortbread pancakes.

2. Crumble the shortbread over the pancake and spoon the caramel sauce over the top.

3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, in short bursts, stirring in between.

4. Drizzle the chocolate over the pancake with a spoon.

Enjoy the mouthwatering taste of Millionaire's Shortbread pancakes!

Will you be making Millionaire's Shortbread pancakes? What is your favourite pancake creation?

Saturday, 25 February 2017

6 Creative Blogs You Need to Read

We all have our favourite blogs safely pinned to our reading list and whilst settling down to read our favourites is great, we can either seem to get stuck in a rut or too wrapped up in our own blogs; it's easy to forget about all the alternative, innovative blogs in the blogosphere.

So to break free from my reading habits I spent some time exploring other inspiring and creative blogs. After all, we need other blogs for inspiration for our own. From vintage DIY and paper love to crazy cupcake creations and the food blogger we all recognise as Deliciously Ella these are 6 blogs you need to add to your reading list.

CakeSpy Follow CakeSpy on Bloglovin'
The clue is in the clever name of this blog - Started by writer, illustrator and baker Jessie Oleson in 2007 CakeSpy claims to be a 'dessert detective agency' with a mission to 'seek sweetness in everyday life' by writing about bakeries, conducting baking experiments and picking the brains of bakers and food artists. It features some original and sweet ideas which are definitely worth checking out.

Design*Sponge Follow Design*Sponge on Bloglovin'
You may have already heard of Design*Sponge because it attracts over 1 million readers per day. And I can see why - Brooklyn based writer, Grace Bonney, began Design*Sponge in 2004 as a space to share her energy and excitement for design. Updated 3-5 times daily it continues this featuring everything design from interior and food & drink designs to design DIY's and tips for the business environment. But covering the story behind the designs is the blogs secret to success.

Deliciously Ella Follow Deliciously Ella on Bloglovin' 
The majority of us have heard of food blogger Deliciously Ella and even made some of her recipes but how many of us have actually read her blog? Deliciously Ella (real name Ella Woodward) has taken on a plant based diet following being diagnosed with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome and she formed her blog which celebrates what you can do with plant based ingredients. However, her blog is not just for sufferers of the illness and, many of her recipes can be adapted to suit each individual. Her raspberry & banana breakfast bars regularly get me through a long shift at work so check it out.

Pikaland: The Illustrated Life Follow Pikaland on Bloglovin'
One for aspiring artists and illustrators, Pikaland combines creativity, illustration and entrepreneurship. Pikaland, founded by Amy NG in 2008, advocates living the illustrated life and features a regularly updated collection of inspirations and creations produced by illustrators and artists. Follow Paper Crave on Bloglovin' 
Another blog which 'does what it says on the tin'. Author of PaperCrave, Kristen Magee, literally has a craving for all things paper; she declares "if it's made out of paper, then I'm interested" and she shares her paper obsession by featuring stationery, greetings cards, posters and art prints, paper crafts, papercuts, paper sculptures and paper art on her blog. Who knew a whole blog could be made around paper?! Fascinating.

RecipeGirl Follow RecipeGirl on Bloglovin' 
Lori Lange has been the go to girl for recipe trends and tasty food creations since 2006. Previously a school teacher she swapped the classroom for the kitchen and food fanatics all over the internet are glad she did. RecipeGirl is home to over 3,000 original and adapted recipes which cater for a variety of tastes, diets and occassions including seasonal snacks, party picks and vegan & gluten free ideas.

What are your favourite blogs? Have any of these made your reading list?