Christmas Crafts with Grandchildren

December 28, 2011 at 11:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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After watching SuperScrimpers: Waste not want not, I realised that Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive. So in the time between Christmas and New Year why not enjoy time with grandchildren by digging out the craft box.

My inexpensive ideas offer the perfect chance to spend quality time with each other whilst also creating items which you will treasure forever. Clear the dining room table and get crafty!

Post-Christmas Crafts with Grandchildren

  • Homemade Thank You cards

Get the children to make a Thank You card which they can send to Santa Claus. There are plenty of design ideas on the internet but I’d suggest keeping hold of any nice wrapping papers from Christmas day. This will come in really handy and give the card a Christmassy feel, plus it’s a great way to reuse and recycle.

christmas craft cards

Once they’ve made a card why not scan it into the computer and e-mail it to relatives and friends who gave the children a Christmas gift. These adorable tokens are very much appreciated and great mementos which you can keep for years.

  • Make New Year decorations

Christmas Day maybe over but that doesn’t mean that you have nothing to look forward too. Why not give grandchildren a rest from new toys and festive films by getting them to make New Year’s decorations.

Simply use Christmas cards or gift wrap to make a variety of different decorations which will transform the house into a New Year party. Make colourful paper chains with cards or fashion a ‘Happy New Year’ banner out of used Christmas cards and ribbon.

These simple suggestions are really easy to make and look wonderful- plus they are a great way for everyone to get involved. This tutorial includes a few ideas which I’m particularly fond of.

  • Scrapbook of the Year- Organiser for 2012

I think scrapbooks are a great way to encourage children to document memorable events, and something which they can look back on. My approach is to be as creative as possible. Go digital or use more traditional method with paper scissors and glue. It really doesn’t matter. Simply use your skills to help your grandchildren document their highlights of the year.

Similarly it’s a wonderful idea to talk about upcoming event especially with children. If they’ve got a big year ahead at school make a fun list/calendar of things which they are hoping to achieve (exam results, sporting achievements, hobbies etc).

scrapbook

Much like making a scrapbook be creative and have fun with their hopes and expectation. Use their favourite colours to highlight specific achievements or activities. Once the list is finished put it on the fridge so that they see it every day. This is a great way to interact with each other and an affordable actively, which you will both benefit from enormously.

Merry Christmas from the Bath-Knight team

December 23, 2011 at 10:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Merry Christmas

I’d like to wish all of my blog readers and Bath-Knight customers a very merry Christmas and send my best wishes for the festive period.

I think that this is a wonderful chance to also thank you for reading and contributing to my blog over the last 12 months. I’ve had a brilliant response, which makes the blog so worthwhile and a great alternative outlet for Bath-Knight as a company.

The Bath-Knight office is closed during the festive period (the team and I will be back in the office from 3rd January 2012). However, I have prepared some Christmas posts which you might find handy- keep an eye out for these next week.

Everything from recycling Christmas waste including cards and wrapping paper to wonderful leftover recipes which I am sure you will all love. Additionally I’ve shared a couple of Christmas time activities which I like to do with my grandchildren.

And finally I’d like to say good luck to anyone who is planning on making their Christmas dinner with the help of Gordon Ramsay and his Christmas cookalong live on Channel 4 on Christmas Day.

All the best from me and once again Merry Christmas!

Christmas Day Cookalong Live with Gordon Ramsay

December 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Gordon Ramsay Cookalong live

At the end of November I blogged about Gordon Ramsay hosting a Christmas Day Cookalong live on Channel 4. I was a little bewildered by the concept myself but I’m sure that many of you will be tuning in to seek Gordon’s help.

I promised that I’d keep you updated on any further information but up until now I’ve been unable to find too many details. However, this morning I sourced the official ingredients list and further information about the show including times, preparation lists and equipment which you might need.

Hopefully this will be handy for anyone planning on making Christmas dinner live with Gordon.

Bath-Knight’s favourite Christmas Mince Pies!

December 22, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Getting into the Christmas spirit the Bath-Knight Sales team have been trying and testing a variety of mince pies in a quest to find the best one available in time for Christmas festivities this weekend.

After weeks of searching supermarket shelves and talking family and friends into baking homemade masterpieces, I think it’s fair to say that they are all minced pied out!

Homemade mince pies

Brilliantly a homemade creation topped the charts scoring 36 out of 40. A close second came from Greggs the bakers who totalled 34 points. Supermarket made treats including mince pies from Sainbury’s (29 points), Asda (26) and Tesco (24) all placed middle in the line-up.

The biggest talking point was caused by McDonald’s ‘Festive Pie’. The calorific creation includes both mincemeat and custard fried until golden and crispy. Although this was the only pie which strayed a little from the traditional recipe it didn’t scored very well with the team. Making a disappointing 14 out of 40 placing McDonald’s bottom of the line-up.

Mince Pie

It would seem that homemade is definitely the best way to enjoy mince pies. But if you’ve not got time to start baking yourself visit your local bakery or Greggs. As their pies are second to none or so I’m told. If you’re feeling a little flush try Heston’s Pine Sugar Dusted Mince Pies from Waitrose– my personal favourite this year!

Enjoy Christmas and don’t forget to leave Father Christmas a mince pie and drop of brandy.

Bath-Knight’s top Christmas tips!

December 21, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Have a merry Christmas with our top Christmas tips…

christmas_pud_

Prepare- If you’re making Christmas dinner this year remember that preparation is key. I’d recommend writing a list of what you’re planning to make then highlight anything which can be prepared or made in advance. Get started on these dishes early so that they are ready for Christmas day. Finally don’t forget to volunteer your children or grandchildren as veggie peelers on Christmas Eve- more hands make light work!

Contribute- Not cooking this year? Why not help lighten the load of your host by offering to take something along. A simple desert, starter or canapés are all things which can be made at home and transported elsewhere. Remember to run your recipe past your host to double check that they aren’t already making the same.

Decorate-Save yourself time by setting your table prior to Christmas Day. Lay out table runners, place mats and decorative finishing touches this week. Then add plates, glasses and cutlery the night before. It’s a great way to save time on the day and gives you chance to set everything up nicely.

Essentials-We all have a cupboard of essentials but it’s worth checking that it’s fully stocked for the festive period. Remember that essentials like stock, canned ingredients and preserves can come in really hand when turning left overs into a feast.

Be creative-We all have traditional Christmas favourites but don’t get stuck in a rut. Search the internet for new Christmas ideas. Easy to make cocktails can be great fun and add a little extra sparkle to the day. Alternatively, prepare family games which everyone will enjoy so that there is no arguing over what to watch on the television.

Handy Websites-

BBC Food- Get Christmas recipe ideas

House to Home- Festive decorating ideas

Guardian- Cocktails for Christmas

Jamie’s Christmas with Bells On

December 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A real foodie at heart I adore cooking programmes especially around Christmas time. Last night I was treated to the delightful Jamie Oliver, whose latest series is a Christmas special cheekily titled ‘Jamie’s Christmas with Bells On’.

Jamie's Christmas with bells on helpers

Although I’m sure many of you already have your Christmas lunch set, the show had some wonderful new ideas along with old favourites which are guaranteed to go down a treat. Perfect if you’re looking for something a little different to liven up Sunday’s feast.

Jamie’s seafood platter looked divine, a brilliant alternative to the classic prawn cocktail, and a dish which I am definitely planning on making in the New Year. However, the Turkey Chowder featured on last night’s show looked amazing and was possibly my favourite (if only we had smelly-vision). Brilliantly easy to make this could well be the perfect recipe for Boxing Day lunch.

turkey-chowder_A0

Jamie is his usual chirpy self and is joined by a host of great little helpers making the show a bundle of festive fun. If you missed it get inspired to make all of Jamie’s recipes including party favourites, which everyone will enjoy by checking out the recipes online now or watching Jamie’s Christmas with Bells On via 4OD.

Animals in Care over Christmas- Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

December 20, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As an animal lover its heart breaking to read that some pets won’t be celebrating Christmas at home this year. Even more heart breaking when you read that some haven’t had a home or family for numerous years.

Earlier today I read an article in The Lady magazine ‘Nut meg-scented kennels? You must be barking’. The article sights the work of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home during the Christmas period as journalist Laura Topham spent the day visiting the centres current residents.

The truth is Laura’s account at Battersea is a little ‘catch 22’. The animals are looked after incredibly well and over Christmas time Battersea Dogs and Cats Home pull out all the stops with special Christmas dinners, nutmeg scented kennels and catteries and even hand knitted jumpers to wear on a Christmas day walk. All topped off with a present or two for the animals to celebrate the festivities like everybody else.

Battersea Dogs and Cats

But behind this image of a happy Christmas is the sad reality that the future is uncertain for many of Battersea’s residents, which is incredibly sad to think about especially considering that many animal shelters see an increase of unwanted pets after Christmas.

As heart breaking as it may be to think of such wonderful animals living in limbo, it’s important to reflect on the positives. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home are able to make Christmas extra special thanks to the hard work of their staff and volunteers, many of whom will be working during the Christmas period.

Supporting animal care facilities is something which we can all do and most impressively it’s much easier than you may think. If you can’t committee yourself to a set timetable of work then why not make a donation.

Battersea Cleo

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has a brilliant online shop which allows you to purchase Christmas lunches –bargain at only £2.50- pet toys, snacks and grooming sets.

Alternatively find a centre close to your community. City Dogs Home is local to Staffordshire and accepts donations, all of which help to create Christmas joy for animals that don’t have a home or family to spend the festive period with.

Annette’s Websites of the Week 12th-16th December 2011

December 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Annette's websites of the week

www.radiotimes.com – Around Christmas time I always buy a Radio Times magazine to check the television listings. This way I can look forward to Christmas films and TV specials which make for extra special festive entertainment.

Radio-Times-2011-ChristmasIn addition to the magazine I’ve also been using the Radio Times website, which is very convenient when the magazine isn’t to hand. Featuring TV listings, recommendations and entertainment news it’s the perfect place to find out what’s on the box, if there wasn’t a better expression.

Seeing as Christmas is getting so closer I’m sure the ‘Christmas’ section will be a huge hit. Here you can find out about those TV Christmas specials- I can’t wait for Downtown Abbey but I know Doctor Who is a big one for many- look at exclusive photo gallery specials and watch behind the scenes footage from your favourite shows including Strictly Come Dancing, which sees its series finale this weekend.

Visit The Radio Times online – here.

www.mysupermarket.co.uk – After watching SuperScrimpers I wanted to investigate how supermarket comparison sites worked and if they prove to be successful when purchasing food which is often priced according to season, weight and brand.

mysupermarketUpon logging onto MySupermarket I was greeted with a short tutorial which I would recommend watching as it simply guides you around the site explaining all of the features and how to make the most out of such.

Working in conjunction with leading supermarkets including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose the site has good credentials. What I like most is that the site is designed to help you save money, there is not false motive.

It’s important to use the tool featured such as Saving Centre to view offers and the Basket tool to see you’re shopping bill total. Additionally, and most importantly, you can see how much your shopping would be if you’d have shopped at another supermarket.

Best of all if another supermarket is cheaper you can simply transfer you’re shopping to the most cost effective retailer in one click without having to redo your shopping.

Overall the site offers a savvy way to shop without having to sacrifice the product which they want to buy. Definitely worth checking out- even to see the offers which supermarkets are currently offering to customers online.

Douglas MacMillan– This weekend local charity Douglas McMillan is holding a Christmas Sing-a-longa at Trentham Gardens.

christmas sing a longThe open air concert featuring local choirs, Audley Male Voice Choir and Keele Bach Choir, along a local brass brand, is set to be a brilliant event which will really set the mood for festive fun in the lead up to Christmas.

I can honestly say I don’t think that you’ll find a better or more worthwhile carol concert this year and if today’s wintery scatters of snow continue the garden will look beautifully picturesque for the event. Tickets are only £2.50 making it’s a day out which the whole family can enjoy- buy tickets here

Online Christmas shopping deadlines

December 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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christmas presentsIf you’re anything like me online shopping will be your saviour this Christmas time. Hitting the World Wide Web in search of the perfect gifts saves the hassle of the busy high street. However, there is one hitch- delivery deadlines!

Handy for us The Guardian have drawn up a ‘Christmas delivery dates 2011’ documents. Listing all of our favourites stores which sell online complete with their delivery deadlines for Christmas.

The list is definitely worth printing and keeping safe in case of any list minute emergencies. My top tip would be, where possible add an extra day to the estimated delivery date as the Christmas rush really can create havoc at post office and storing houses.

Annette’s Websites of the Week 5th- 9th December 2011

December 9, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Annette's websites of the week

The X Factor– This weekend is The X Factor final and after months of auditions, boot camp and live shows the winner will finally be announced and crowned The X Factor 2011 champion.

In the running to win this weekend’s big finale is girl band (and Bath-Knight office favourites) Little Mix, Marcus Collins and Amelia Lily who was voted back into the show after the impromptu exit of Frankie Cocozza.

x factor finalists

If like me you’ve missed a couple of episode from this year’s The X Factor the official website is packed with the latest news, previous performances and exclusive looks at the finalist which you won’t find elsewhere.

Additionally the site includes beauty and fashion tips with the help of The X Factor’s new partnerships including brands such as Rimmel London and Marks and Spencer. Overall the site is a real success and gives a great insight to the show- a must view site if you’re planning on watching this weekend’s final.

mands logoMarks and SpencerFor me and many of my friends Marks and Spencer is a safe haven, especially around Christmas time. With a real push to keep up with the times- hence their recent partnership with The X Factor- M&S is a store which can fulfil everyone’s needs.

From spectacular foods and drinks, home furnishing and clothing for all- they now have on trend fashion collections which sit alongside more traditional ranges. M&S is living up to its iconic reputation.

M&S website

Even better Marks and Spencer has a fantastic website, which I frequently use, selling everything which you will find in store plus online exclusives. Undoubtedly I’ll be visiting the site before Christmas… a forgotten gift, replenishing wrapping paper or delicious Christmas nibbles which will go down a treat.

Not yet shopped at Marks and Spencer online? Take a look around here www.marksandspencer.com

Royal Mail- With Christmas fast approaching it’s a good idea to log onto the Royal Mail’s website to find out when you’re post deadline is for cards and parcels. It might be handy to note that many overseas deadlines are this week, which means that you really do need to get your Christmas wishes in the post soon if you’ve not already.

Royal Mail’s online Christmas tool is really efficient and easy to use. Simply select where you would like to send your post too and the service type (First Class, Second Class etc…) then click ‘find posting date’ and the site will calculate your deadline date.

royal mail

Alternatively the Royal Mail has produced a ‘last posting date’ table which lists all dates and services accordingly.  I’ve printed this out and kept it in my organiser in case of any last minute emergency mail outs.

Remember ‘Post Early for Christmas’ as Royal Mail’s vintage poster campaign so famously said.

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