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  • Posted on December 5, 2017

    Christmas Gift Guide

    Whether they're a foodie, a gardener, a coffee expert or a star baker, we have a book they'll love this Christmas!

     

    GIFTS FOR FOODIES

    From quick family favourites to indulgent weekend meal ideas or healthy eating motivation for the New Year, you're sure to find the perfect gift for a foodie with our great range of recipe books...

     

    Flavours of the world...

         

     My Modern Indian Kitchen by Nitisha Patel  - over 60 recipes for home-cooked Indian food

    Laura Santtini's Pasta Secrets - over 70 delicious recipes from authentic classics to modern & healthy alternatives.

    Real Mexican Food by Ben Fordham - Authentic recipes for burritos, tacos, salsa and more

    Sushi Made Simple by Atsuko Ikeda - From classic wraps and rolls to modern bowls and burgers

     

    Healthy Eating and Free From...

       

    The New Nourishing by Leah Vanderveldt - delicious plant-based comfort food to feed body and soul

    Super food Slow Cooker by Nicola Graimes - Healthy wholefood meals from your slow cooker

    My Vegan Travels by Jackie Kearney - comfort food inspired by adventue

     

    Recipes for the weekend...

       

    Party Food to Share by Kathy Kordalis - Small bites, platters & boards

    The Lambshank Redemption Cookbook by Lachlan Hayman - 50 blockbuster movie-inspired recipes

    Saturday Pizzas from the Ballymaloe Cookery School - The essential guide to making pizza at home, from perfect classics to inspired gourmet toppings.

     

    GIFTS FOR BAKERS

    They'll be star bakers in the making everywhere this Holiday season with our range of baking books - bring on Bake Off 2018!

         

    LOLA'S: A Cake Journey Around the World by LOLA's Bakers - 70 of the most delicious and iconic cake recipes discovered on our travels

    This is Gluten Free by Victoria Hall - Delicious gluten-free recipes to bake it better

    Fantasy Cakes by Angela Romeo - magical recipes for fanciful bakes

    Japanese Patisserie by James Campbell - Exploring the beautiful and delicious fusion of East meets West.

     

    GIFTS FOR DRINK LOVERS

    Whether it's time for a cup of coffee or a cocktail, we've got your covered!

     

    Winter Warmers...

       

    Easy Leaf Tea by Timothy d'Offay - Tea house recipes to make at home

    Hot Drinks - Over 25 warming recipes for cold days

    Coffee Drinks by Merlin Jobst - An illustrated infographic guide to what's in your cup

     

    Cocktail Time...

         

    The Curious Bartender's Rum Revolution by Tristan Stephenson

    Gin Tonica by David T Smith - 40 recipes for Spanish-style gin and tonic cocktails

    Prosecco Cocktails by Laura Gladwin - 40 tantalizing recipes for everyone's favourite sparkler

    Dr. Adam Elmgirab's Book of Bitters - The bitter and twisted history of one of the cocktail world's most fascinating ingredients

     

    Wine Lovers...

     

    Natural Wine by Isabelle Legeron - An introduction to organic and biodynamic wines made naturally

    Wine and Food by Jane Parksinson - Perfect pairings every time

     

    GIFTS FOR INTERIOR DESIGN

        

    The Scandinavian Home by Nicki Brantmark - Interiors inspired by light

    Rockett St George: Extraordinary Interiors - Show-stopping looks for unique interiors

    New Nordic Colour by Antonia af Petersens - Decorating with a vibrant modern paletteo

    Books Make a Home by Damian Thompson - Elegant ideas for storing and displaying books

     

    GIFTS FOR GARDENERS

    Whatever size your garden, you can get green fingered with our range of gardening books.

         

     My Gardening Journal & Planner

    Tiny Tabletop Gardens by Emma Hardy - 35 projects for super-small spaces - outdoors and in

    The Art of Living with Nature by Willow Crossley - 50 beautiful projects to bring the outside in

    Teeny Tiny Gardening by Emma Hardy - 35 step-by-step projects and inspirational ideas for gardening in tiny spaces

     

    STOCKING FILLERS

    These little books are perfect to pop in a stocking and make someone smile this Christmas!

         

    What Your Dog Breed Says About You by Jo Hoare - A fun look at the peculiarities of pets and their owners

    So You Think You're a Hipster by Kara Simsek - Cautionary case studies from the city streets

    Don't be a Nordic by Jo Hoare - Why embracing the Scandi lifestyle won't change your life

    The History of Insults - Over 100 put-downs, slights and snubs through the ages

     

         

    The Little Pocket Book of Natural Beauty by Karen Gilbert - 35 step-by-step projects for homemade beauty

    ScandiKitchen: The Essence of Hygge by Bronte Aurell

    Easy on the Eyes by Lisa Potter-Dixon - The pocket book of eye make-up looks in 5, 15 and 30 minutes

     

    GIFTS FOR KIDS

    Meet the cute characters in our range of gorgeous and fun kid's books this Christmas.

       

     Talulla Bear Goes Exploring by Heather Roan Robbins - A Mindful Tale of Discovery

    Shady Bay Buddies: Archie Goes to the Doctor by Emma Brown

    Shady Bay Buddies: Archie's First Day at School by Emma Brown


    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with christmas, interiors, drinks, gift, kids, gardening, books, food

  • Posted on March 23, 2017

    Sweet ideas for Mother's Day gifts

    Don’t forget it’s Mother’s Day this weekend!  We know that she deserves something special, so for this week’s blog we’ve picked three fantastic recipes that will make the perfect homemade gifts…

    This peanut butter fudge recipe is so simple to make, it’s perfect if you’re running a bit short on time! Topped with chocolate chips and peanuts, it looks so tempting… just make sure you leave time for it to set!

    Peanut butter fudge from Miracle Mug Cakes

    Cheat's Peanut Butter Fudge

    500 g/2 ¼ cups smooth peanut butter (you want the least oily peanut butter that you can find)

    1 x 397-g/14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

    a pinch of salt

    100 g/2/3 cup icing/ confectioners’ sugar, sifted

    100 g/2/3 cup dark/bittersweet chocolate chips

    100 g/1 cup chopped peanuts

    a 28 x 18 x 4-cm /11 x 7 x 1.5-inch cake pan, lined with overhanging baking parchment

    MAKES 64 PIECES

    In a large saucepan, melt together the peanut butter, condensed milk and salt over a medium heat.

    Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir to loosen the mixture.

    Carefully add in the sifted icing/confectioners’ sugar and stir until fully combined and very thick.

    Empty the mixture into the prepared cake pan, making sure it covers the whole of the base – the weight of the mixture will hold down the baking parchment. It will be quite oily and you will need to use the back of a spoon to smooth the fudge out.

    Sprinkle over the dark chocolate chips, making sure they are spread out and push them in to the fudge slightly. They may melt a little but this is okay.

    Sprinkle over the chopped peanuts, pushing them in to the fudge, too.

    Allow the fudge to cool, then pop it in to the fridge to set for at least 4 hours or overnight.

    Once set, use the overhanging baking parchment to lift the fudge out of the pan.

    Slice the fudge into small squares and enjoy.

    NOTE You can store this fudge for around 2 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge, but it is best eaten at room temperature.

     

    For something a little bit more grown up, why not try these Pina Colada Jellies? These heavenly cubes, flecked with cherry and pineapple are the best part of a cocktail in a mouthful.

    Pina Colada Jellies from Party-Perfect Bites

    Pina Colada Jellies

    700 ml/scant 3 cups pineapple juice (not from concentrate)

    34 sheets of gelatine, softened in cold water for 5–10 minutes

    350 ml/1 ½ cups cherry juice

    400 g /14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

    300 ml/1 ¼  cups Malibu or other coconut-flavoured white rum

    80 ml/ 1/3 cup coconut cream

    25 x 18-cm/10 x 7-inch and 12 x 9-cm/4 ½ x 3 ½ -inch containers, lined with clingfilm/ plastic wrap

    makes about 120 cubes

    Heat 120 ml/ ½ cup pineapple juice to a simmer in a saucepan. Take off the heat, squeeze the water out of 11 sheets of gelatine, add to the juice and whisk. Add this to the remaining pineapple juice and whisk. Pour into the large prepared container and set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

    Heat 60 ml/ ¼ cup of the cherry juice to a simmer in a saucepan. Take off the heat, squeeze the water out of 6 sheets of gelatine, add to the juice and whisk. Add this to the remaining cherry juice and whisk. Pour into the small prepared container and set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

    Once both jellies are set, heat 180 ml/ ¾ cup water to a simmer in a saucepan. Take off the heat. Squeeze the water out of 17 sheets of gelatine, add to the water and whisk. Add this to the condensed milk, along with the rum, 150 ml/generous ó cup water and the coconut cream. Mix, then let cool, but don’t allow it to set.

    Cut the pineapple and cherry jellies into 1.5-cm/ ¾ -inch cubes. Arrange the cubes in a container large enough to hold them all, then cover with the cooled coconut jelly to a depth of 2.5 cm/1 inch. Set in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, cut into 2.5-cm/1-inch cubes to serve.

     

    These mini chocolate cheesecakes are sure to go down a treat with any chocoholic! This recipe uses vanilla and orange flavours, but you could choose any flavour you like to make these the perfect gift.

    Mini chocolate cheesecakes from Cheesecake

    FOR THE CAKE BASES

    55 g/4 tablespoons butter

    55 g/4 ½ tablespoons caster/ white sugar

    1 egg

    55 g/scant 1⁄2 cup self-raising flour

    grated zest of 1 orange

    FOR THE DRIZZLING SYRUP

    freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange

    1 tablespoon icing/confectioners’ sugar

    FOR THE FILLING

    170 g/ ¾ cup mascarpone cheese

    170 ml/ ¾ cup crème fraîche

    1 tablespoon icing/confectioners’ sugar

    1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

    TO ASSEMBLE

    400 g/14 oz. dark spiced chocolate (such as Green & Black’s Maya Gold)

    24 sugar flowers

    a 24-hole square mini brownie pan, greased

    a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle/tip (optional)

    24 paper petit fours cases

    MAKES 24

    Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) Gas 4.

    To make the cake bases, whisk together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, until light and creamy. Beat in the egg and whisk again. Sift in the flour, add half of the orange zest and stir through again. Put a small spoonful of mixture into each of the holes of the prepared brownie pan. (This is easiest done with a piping bag.) You only want a little cake mixture in each hole as when the cakes are baked you still need room to add the cheesecake mixture on top. Bake in the preheated oven for 10–12 minutes until the sponges spring back when you press with a clean finger.

    Simmer the orange juice and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved, then drizzle a little of the syrup over each of the cakes. Leave the cakes to cool, then press the cakes down so that there is room for the filling on top.

    For the cheesecake filling, whisk together the mascarpone, crème fraîche, icing/confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and the remaining orange zest until smooth. Spoon the mixture over the cake bases, spreading in tightly using a pallet knife or spatula so that all the holes of the brownie pan are filled completely. Transfer the pan to the freezer and freeze until the cheesecake is solid, which will take about 30 minutes.

    When the cheesecakes are frozen, melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until the chocolate has melted. Remove the frozen cheesecakes from the freezer and, one at a time, dip them into the warm chocolate. Transfer to a wire rack to set, with a sheet of foil underneath to catch any chocolate drips. Before the chocolate sets, affix a sugar flower to the top of each cheesecake. The chocolate will set quickly given the frozen temperatures of the cheesecakes – if it sets too quickly you can simply attach the flowers using a little extra chocolate. Once set, place each chocolate in a petit fours case and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve, by which time the cheesecake will have defrosted.

     

    In order, these recipes have been taken from,

    Miracle Mug Cakes by Suzy Pelta, available here.

    Miracle Mug Cakes by Suzy Pelta

    Party-Perfect Bites by Milli Taylor, available here.

    Party-perfect bites by Milli Taylor

    Cheesecake by Hannah Miles, available here.

    Cheesecake by Hannah Miles

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    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, Recipes, Recipes, UK, What's new, What's new and was tagged with homemade, baking, Mother's Day, gift, chocolate, quick, sweet, recipe, gift ideas, cheesecake, fudge

  • Posted on December 13, 2016

    5 Homemade Gifts To Make This Christmas

    Next up in our Christmas round-ups, we’re thinking about homemade gifts.  As we mentioned in this post, we’re doing a Homemade Secret Santa this year, but whether you’re after a little stocking filler, or something personal for a friend or loved one, we’ve got you covered.

    Grocery shopping will no longer be a chore, thanks to this gorgeous tote bag from our new book Hygge Knits (this book is published in January, but you can preorder it here). Find the pattern for the bag over on MAKEetc here.

    These home-infused oils make a lovely stocking-filler for your favourite foodie. Click here for the recipes.

    If you know someone celebrating their first Christmas this year, Laura Strutt’s Bunting Baby Blanket would make a lovely gift. Find the knitting pattern here.

    Make these notebooks to kickstart a year of writing for any budding author. You can find a printable PDF project here.

    These lavender bags make sweet little stocking fillers. The project is available here.

    And as a bonus, homemade cards and gift tags can add a personal twist to any gift. We’ve got a video tutorial for these stocking cards here, and the instructions for homemade gift tags on the blog here.

    We hope you’re feeling inspired, but don’t forget to check out our Top 10 Gifts for Crafters blog post on MAKEetc here.

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    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with christmas, homemade, handmade, gift, photos, 2016

  • Posted on June 15, 2016

    Memory Jars for Fathers' Day

    Giving a homemade gift makes the experience extra special (not to mention a homemade card – try this one!) and with Fathers’ Day just around the corner, we’ve got a lovely project for children (of all ages!) to make for their dads. In Hester Van Overbeek’s latest book Crafting With Mason Jars she suggests this sweet way of displaying your favourite holiday snaps and memories, and we think it would be a lovely gift for Dad this weekend. Perhaps you have a little trinket that means something special to both of you? Or a memento of a trip you took together? Alternatively, find a lovely picture of you and your father, and fill the base of the jar with something that reminds you of him, such as the coffee beans Hester suggests. A super simple idea with endless possibilities!

    Memories In A Jar

    Instead of displaying your favorite snaps in photo frames, pop them in a jar! Did you go on a beach vacation? Take some sand, shells, or driftwood back home with you and place these in the bottom of the jar.

    Did you go on a city escape? Why not fill the base of the jar with coffee beans from your favorite espresso bar and pick up some small trinkets or save tickets to decorate the jar with.

    Crafting With Mason Jars by Hester van Overbeek is available here.

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    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, handmade, gift, kids, quick, 2016, mason jars

  • Posted on December 9, 2015

    The Office Christmas Party

    We’re really looking forward to our office Christmas party next week but as we all know, the office Christmas party can be difficult territory to navigate. David Brent dancing anyone? But never fear, The Office by Jo Hoare is on hand with a handy guide to having the best time!

    The Christmas Party

    Doritos, sweaty cheese, and cheap wine in plastic cups served in a hastily cleared conference room, soundtracked by someone’s iPod handily dropped into one of the aforementioned plastic cups. “It makes a good speaker,” according to the IT man. Yes it does... if you happen to be an ant with exquisite aural skills. Having said that, not being able to hear Mariah Carey punctuated with adverts for Anusol (because everyone’s been too tight to fork out for Spotify Premium) isn’t too much of a hardship. So far, so terrible, right? But don’t panic. You can get through it, simply pick a desired outcome and follow these key points:

    AIM: TO PULL THE OFFICE HOTTIE

    DO: Splash a little bit of cash (if you can expense it, even better). Turning up with a snazzy bottle of champers (prosecco will do) under your arm to a party where, gallon for gallon, petrol would cost more than the provided wine (and probably taste better) guarantees attention from the whole room. It’s a trick reminiscent of teenage house parties but guess what—it still works. Use a glass of bubbly to rescue your crush from a night of esophageal torture caused by ingesting vinegary plonk, then hint that there’s plenty more where that came from. They’ll be putty in your hands.

    DON’T: Ply them with too much booze. No one wants a sexual harassment charge on their disciplinary record.

    AIM: TO BEFRIEND THE BOSS

    DO: Research your target. Don’t put your foot in it by asking about the wife and kids when he’s recently left them to shack up with his one-time PA, or has just been dumped in favor of a 25-year-old personal trainer. Proving difficult to find this info? Take a good look at the man. Is he sporting a beard that verges on neglect? Are his shirts suddenly as crumpled as Hugh Hefner’s bedding? She’s left him. Penis-extension Porsche in the office car park and Gucci belt suddenly holding up his paunch? He’s snared himself what your mother would call a dolly bird.

    DON’T: Think eight drinks in is the right time to tell him your thoughts on how to run the company. You’ll only end up petitioning for the right to glory holes in the bathrooms or corporal punishment for stapler thieves.

    AIM: TO DRINK THROUGH THE PAIN

    DO: Pre-game. For total and complete oblivion there’s probably not going to be enough booze at your carefully-budgeted-per-head event. Loosen yourself up with something socially acceptable like Buck’s Fizz from around mid-afternoon. No one needs to know the ratio of orange juice to fizz is akin to your chance of winning the lottery.

    DON’T: Arrive late. The good (i.e. strong) drinks will be served first and will as such run out first. Welcome cocktails are your friend. Take as many as you can and then secret them away in a hiding place (this hiding place may well be your stomach).

    AIM: TO GAIN BLACKMAILABLE MATERIAL

    DO: Fake your boozing. You want to give the impression of being as wasted as everyone else while you remain fully alert to office indiscretions. Helpful hints to this include: a) tying your tie around your head in the manner of a Rambo-esque character, AKA the public schoolboy at a wedding b) untucking one side of your shirt or taking off your high heels and staggering everywhere in your stockinged feet. If you’re combining this aim with befriending the boss and he or she is of the opposite sex you may also introduce a “hilarious” party game at this point. Something with balloons and body contact usually works and will probably be an easy gateway into the kind of hedonism usually seen only at WASP swingers parties.

    DON’T: Let your phone battery die. You know the rules, pictures or it didn’t happen.

    The Officeby Jo Hoare is available here. For more stocking filler gift inspiration, check out our Pinterest gift guide!


    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with christmas, event, gift, quick, humour, 2015

  • Posted on October 28, 2015

    Spiced Pumpkin Cookies

    Here at the RPS and CICO Books towers there are two things that we really love – baking and making – so  you can imagine our excitement for Halloween; the holiday where we can bake a whole range of cute, creepy or even gross looking delights and make all sorts of scary stuff, from outfits to decorations for a party! So today we've got a cookie recipe to excite both our crafty and confectionary sides... these lovely spiced pumpkin cookies are just one of many tasty treats to be found in The Cookie Jar by Liz Franklin. Whether it's a party for kids or grown ups, these are perfect for your Halloween table spread and we think they'll go down a real treat. Or do we mean trick...

    Spiced pumpkin cookies

    100 g/6 ½ tablespoons butter, softened

    60 g/ ¼ cup thick honey

    150 g/ ¾ cup soft brown sugar

    1 egg

    250 g/2 cups plain/all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon mixed spice/apple pie spice

    1 teaspoon ground ginger

    ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda

    To decorate

    250 g/8 oz. ready-to-roll fondant icing

    orange food colouring gel

    1 egg white, beaten

    orange and green writing gels

    a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter

    2 baking sheets lined with baking parchment 

    MAKES ABOUT 20

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

    Put the butter, honey, sugar and egg in a large mixing bowl and beat together until smooth. Add the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda/baking soda and mix until you have a smooth, stiff dough. Leave the dough to rest for 30 minutes.

    On a clean, lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into a large rectangle with a thickness of about 3 mm/1/8 in. Cut out cookies using the cookie cutter. Bring the trimmed dough together and roll out again to cut as many cookies out of the dough as possible. Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, leaving a little space for spreading between each one.

    Bake in the preheated oven for 8–10 minutes, until golden and firm. Leave to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

    In the meantime, work a little orange food colouring gel into the fondant icing until the colour resembles pumpkin orange. Cut the icing out using the cookie cutter to cover the cookies.

    Brush the cookies with the beaten egg white and stick an orange icing pumpkin onto each cookie pumpkin, then use the writing gels to add the detail.

    Leave to set, store between layers of baking parchment in an airtight container or cookie jar and eat within 3 days.

    The Cookie Jar

    For more simple baked biscuits and tasty treats, check out The Cookie Jar by Liz Franklin, available here.


    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with baking, gift, school holidays, kids, halloween, sweet, pumpkin, 2015, The Pantry

  • Posted on July 16, 2015

    The New Rules of Golf

    As the Open Championships begin, young Jordan Spieth, at the tender age of 21, stands on the brink of golfing history. Putting to one side how old/unaccomplished this makes me feel, golf seems to be shaking the old-man image. Happy Gilmore approach to putting? Fine! Tipple after the first hole? Absolutely! In The New Rules of Golf, Dominic Bliss has helpfully collected all of these New Rules together, and if Spieth really does want to shake the Woods comparisons, maybe he should pick up a copy! Here are some of our favourites!

    New Rule Number 6

    DO NOT COMMAND BALLS WHILE THEY’RE IN THE AIR

    Golf balls do not have ears. Shouting ‘Sit down! Sit down!’ while your shot flies sky-high over the green is utterly pointless. It’s about as useful as giving your ball a little kiss before you tee off. As a spectator, addressing the ball while it’s in the air is equally forbidden. Do not become one of those idiots who yells, “In the hole!” at the top of his voice every time Tiger Woods bashes it down the fairway. Shouting “Mash potato!” is even worse.

    New Rule Number 9

    ALCOHOL IS PERMITTED AFTER THE FIRST HOLE

    Even the most liberal of golf-club managers will raise an eyebrow should you crack the booze before you’ve teed off the first hole. Not that there’s anything wrong with drinking and driving. Part of golf’s brilliance is that it’s one of the very few sports where you can imbibe with impunity during competition. In fact, a few swift ones may even help settle your nerves.

    New Rule Number 21

    USE GOLF SLANG AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY

    Our wonderful sport has given rise to some highly inventive slang terms. The New Rules of Golf require you to use these terms liberally and always in a suitably derisive tone. For example:

    Army golf: your first shot goes left, your second shot right, your third shot left; left, right, left, right…

    A Pharaoh: buried in the sand

    A Ryanair: it flew okay, but landed miles from the destination you wanted

    New Rule Number 24

    NOVELTY CLUB-HEAD COVERS ARE NOT PERMITTED

    Yes, we all know Tiger Woods has a fluffy tiger on his driver. But he’s Tiger Woods. You are not. And for that reason you are not permitted a novelty head cover. It is invariably uncool.

    And one that’s very important for playing golf in Scotland…

    New Rule Number 41

    BE PREPARED FOR RAIN

    Pretty self-explanatory…

    The New Rules of Golf by Dominic Bliss is available here.

    Enjoy the Open, and happy putting!


    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with gift, humour, Dominic Bliss, 2015, sport

  • Posted on June 30, 2015

    OMG!

    We love a weird and wonderful fact here at RPS and CICO Books towers. Rarely a day goes by when someone (ok, often me) says “Did you know…?” So, we were thrilled when one of our new Dog’n’Bone books, OMG! Can You Believe It?, landed on our desks last week. Chock-full of facts ranging from the hilarious to the bizarre to the downright grim, this book is very entertaining! Never again will you be stuck for something to say!

    Because it’s Tuesday and it’s sunny and that’s put us in a sharing kind of a mood, we thought we’d let you in on some of our favourite facts from the book…prepare to be amazed!

    • In Alaska, a local law makes it illegal to whisper in someone’s ear while they are hunting moose.
    • Your nose can remember one trillion different smells
    • Weirdly, nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) nearly always give birth to a set of identical quadruplets – of the same sex. Strangely, armadillos are also the only animals apart from humans that can get leprosy.
    • Cats are either right- or left-pawed – just like us!
    • Between 1725 and 1765 a Russian peasant woman gave birth to 69 children – her family included 16 sets of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets. OMG!
    • In 1899, the weather was so cold that the Mississippi River froze over completely – for its entire length.
    • Russia has a larger surface area than Pluto.
    • Unlucky Roy C. Sullivan, a US park ranger, was struck by lightning seven times in his lifetime. The odds of this happening are 22 septillion to 1! Roy even got hit when he was inside a ranger station.
    • Charles VI of France (1368-1422) believed he was made of glass. So, he refused to travel by coach – just in case he shattered into pieces. He wasn’t called “Charles the Mad” for nothing.
    • A Roman method of execution involved the unfortunate victim being sewn into a sack containing a live dog, monkey, cockerel and snake.

    If you enjoyed this Top Ten, there’s plenty more to be discovered in OMG! Can You Believe It? by Caroline West & Mark Latter, available for pre-order here! And if you can't wait for some weird and wonderful facts, Caroline and Mark's last book, Last Suppers is available here, and should keep you going until September!


    This post was posted in Featured, UK, What's new and was tagged with gift, summer holidays, humour, 2015, top ten tuesday

  • Posted on March 11, 2015

    Make a Mother's Day Tea Card!

    With Mother’s Day only a few days away, there’s still time for the kids to hand make a thoughtful card to surprise mum on Sunday morning. So today we have a video tutorial showing them how to make a card that is perfect for tea loving mums. This fun card can be personalised with their favourite colours and stickers, and is really simple to make! Simply click on the video below to watch the tutorial.

    Video Tutorial for Kids: How to make a tea card!

    Polly and I had great fun making several of these tea cards and have sent them around the office to the biggest tea drinkers! So if the kids are enjoying the cutting, sticking, colouring, and stickering, then they can always make a few to send out to their grandparents, teachers, and friends, whenever an occasion arises! Have fun kids and we hope you make it a very happy Mother’s Day!

    Photo of Polly and Jen's tea cup cards

    More fun activities for kids!

    This project was taken from the new book, More Boredom Busters, by Caroline Fernandez, which includes over 50 awesome activities for children aged 7years +. The ideas all use simple materials found around the home or classroom and include great step-by-step instructions so that they are super easy to follow!

    Caroline is officially launching her book with a Twitter chat, including lots of fun ideas to keep the kids entertained over Spring break (or in preparation for the Easter holidays in the UK!) and a chance to win a copy of the book, so make sure you're there to join in. Details:

    Thursday Mar 12

    12-1pm ET (4-5pm GMT)

    #MoreBoredomBusters

    TOPIC: How to keep kids busy during Spring break

    More Boredom Busters by Caroline Fernandez

    For more information about the book and to see what other sorts of crafts and activities there are for kids to get stuck into, then please click here.


    This post was posted in Craft Projects, UK, Videos, What's new and was tagged with handmade, Mother's Day, gift, school holidays, cico kidz, crafts for kids, kids, simple, video, paper crafts, 2015

  • Posted on December 18, 2014

    Make your own Christmas gift tags!

    We had a super time for our office Christmas party last night and exchanged some cracking Secret Santa presents! The gifts themselves were absolutely lovely - with everything from homemade chutney and beautiful scarves to the greatest, oversized pencil sharpener for spiral cutting carrots, courgettes and the like! – though it has to be said that some of the wrapping could have been a little more inspired...

    So today we thought we’d share this great project from Christmas Crafts to encourage some wonderfully wrapped gifts! Whether you're a last-minute wrapper, happy to piece it all together on Christmas Eve, or already have everything wrapped and ready under the tree, these homemade gift tags will make your presents extra special this Christmas!

    Handstitched label

    These cute gift tags for attaching to presents are made from standard parcel labels and decorated with red buttons and rows of embroidered running stitch. 

    Materials

    Ruler and pencil

    Brown parcel label

    Foam board (for piercing and stitching holes)

    Large needle

    Eraser

    Red embroidery thread

    2 red buttons for each label

    Hot glue gun (or all-purpose glue)

    4 3/4in (12cm) narrow red ric rac braid (for the loop)

    1. Use the ruler and pencil to draw a soft line, about 1⁄8in (3mm) from the edge, all around the brown parcel label. Place the label on the foam board and use the large needle to pierce holes along the pencil lines, spaced approximately 1/4in (5mm) apart. These will form the stitching holes for the embroidery. Rub out the pencil lines using the eraser.

    2. Thread the needle with the red embroidery thread and work a row of running stitches around the edges of the parcel label.

    3. Glue two buttons to the center of the label. You may find it easier to use a hot glue gun to do this. It is better to glue the buttons rather than sew them on, as you won’t be able to write on the back of the label if the buttons are sewn on.

    4. Thread the ric rac braid through the hole at the top of the parcel label and tie securely. Thread the ends of the braid to your parcel to finish.

     

    Christmas Crafts by Catherine Woram is available here.

    Have a lovely last week in the run up to Christmas everyone!


    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Craft Projects, Featured, Featured, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with christmas, handmade, gift, 2014

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