Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas holiday wear £150+ giveaway

Well we are into November now, so I believe it is perfectly fine to mention the Xmas word. Perhaps you are thinking about ordering personalised Christmas photo cards. We did some cards of the boys a couple of years ago which everyone loved. But how about taking it a step further with the whole family wearing matching Christmas outfits in the picture. No I’m not just talking about Christmas jumpers. I actually mean the entire ensemble from top to toe.

Christmas family outfits

So what’s your opinion on this fashion statement – cute or cheesy? You would certainly make a grand entrance at the Christmas party.

Christmas family outfits

And here is one just of the kids. The above are just two of the designs sold by https://www.shinesty.com/

Shinesty can kit the whole family out in matching Christmas dresses or suits plus a onesie for the baby. There’s even an outfit for your four-legged friend.

But watch out if you plan to browse their website with your children, as they do sell more risqué items too. Plus there are a few rude words on their website. Shinesty are based in the US, but they ship worldwide.

And I’m hosting a giveaway courtesy of Shinesty to win a set of matching Christmas outfits for all the family – parents and children. This giveaway is open worldwide.

The winning family can choose between three matching sets – Millenial Snowflake, Navy Nordic or Lincoln Log, selecting their preferred style and sizing requirements.

Prize value will vary depending on sizes and styles chosen by the winner, but I estimate it to start from upwards of £150 for a 3-person family. And obviously more for a larger family.comper friendly badge

a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear what you like to wear best for Christmas.

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Disclosure.  Although I am hosting this giveaway, I have not received any products.  All opinions are my own.

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When is a Gingerbread Man, not a Gingerbread Man?

When it is a Reindeer!

Now I can’t take the credit for this idea as I’ve seen multiple images on the internet of a gingerbread man cutter being used upside down to create reindeer biscuits. I thought this was a great idea that my boys would love, so I decided to give it a try. I made my standard gingerbread recipe and then decorated them all as Rudolph.

Reindeer gingerbread biscuits

Reindeer Gingerbread Biscuits

Ingredients (makes about 30 biscuits)

350g plain flour
1 teasp bicarbonate of soda
2 teasp ginger
1/2 teasp cinnamon
125g butter
100g soft brown sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup

Black writing icing
Few drops of red food colouring
50g ready to roll white icing

Method

Preheat fan oven to 180 deg C.
Grease and line baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring.
Add the dry ingredients.
Mix to form a stiff dough.
Roll a ball of dough to 5mm thickness, then use gingerbread man cutter to cut out biscuits.
Place on the lined baking sheets.
Continue to cut out until all dough used. (Number will vary according to size of your cutter).
Bake the biscuits in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Leave to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes and then move to a wire rack.
Once cool, they can be decorated.
Use the writing icing to give each reindeer biscuit 2 eyes.
Place ready to roll icing in a small bowl.
Use your hands to squeeze it to make malleable.
Add enough food colouring to mix to a red ball.
Form into small balls, approx 1cm wide.
Then press an icing ball onto each reindeer for the nose.
Serve and enjoy.

Reindeer gingerbread men

Son2 said that only one should have had a red nose and that I should have made Dasher, Prancer, Dancer, Cupid, Comet, Donner, Vixen and Blitzen too. However we all agreed they were a tasty seasonal Christmas treat.

I’d love to hear what Christmas goodies you enjoy baking or eating?

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Christmastide With My Captain by Tammy Andresen

I have received a free e-copy of the book Christmastide With My Captain by Tammy Andresen to review.

Christmastide With My Captain by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

Love finds each of us in mysterious ways.

Lady Emilia McDougal has watched love find each of her beloved sisters. When will it be her turn? She fears it will be never. Quiet and bookish, she’d be called a bluestocking wallflower if she were English.

Captain Jack Andrews lost his love of the sea long ago and he doesn’t deserve to find the love of his life. Especially not with someone as stunning and kind as Emilia. When she saves his life, he wonders how she could ever think herself plain. If it were his place in life, he’d show her just how fascinatingly beautiful she is. But it isn’t. How long can he resist those tempting lips, soft smile, and heartfelt words? And what will her father, the Earl of Dumfries, do if Jack doesn’t?

This is a Christmas novella that will introduce you to the heartfelt series, A Laird to Love.

Lady Emilia is sitting on the beach in December feeling sad that all her sisters and cousins are in love, whilst she is alone. She is praying for love, when a ship emerges from the mist, clearly in distress. She rushes to the lighthouse and rings the bell and lights the lamp, before rowing out to assist. She rescues several sailors including the very handsome Captain Jack Andrews.

By the time they reach the beach, Emilia is shivering. The captain carries her back to the castle, keeping her talking to make sure she doesn’t lose consciousness. Hours later they meet by chance in the kitchen and Jack is mesmerised by Emilia’s beauty.

Can they resist each other?

Christmastide With My Captain is available on Amazon, currently priced at 99p in Kindle format. This is a nice light short romantic Christmas read. Very quick to read.


About the author

USA Today Bestselling Author, Tammy Andresen lives with her husband and three children just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She grew up on the Seacoast of Maine, where she spent countless days dreaming up stories in blueberry fields and among the scrub pines that line the coast. Her mother loved to spin a yarn and Tammy filled many hours listening to her mother retell the classics. It was inevitable that at the age of 18, she headed off to Simmons College, where she studied English literature and education. She never left Massachusetts but some of her heart still resides in Maine and her family visits often.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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12 Days of Clink Street Christmas Guest Post: Festive Recipes

Guest post by Rick Hay, author of The Anti Ageing Food and Fitness Plan.

The Anti Ageing Food and Fitness Plan by Rick Hay

Here are a few of my favourite fast recipes to help make Christmas Day healthier.

I have provided for some easy breakfasts, desserts and sides which would allow a bit of a blow out at lunch and dinner which we all deserve – it’s Christmas after all.

Berry Superfood Bowl – a healthy start to Christmas day:

Ingredients
a small bowl
a handful of english spinach
a few blueberries and strawberries
a banana
1 teaspoon of Chia seeds
100 mls of almond milk
a dollop of unsweetened greek or coconut yoghurt
half of a sliced peeled kiwi fruit
a few teaspoons of oats and some desiccated coconut.

Method
Blend the almond milk, banana, spinach and pour into a small bowl – you could heat in slowly if desired.
Top with the blueberries, sliced kiwi fruit, strawberries and oats.
Top with a dollop of the yogurt and some desiccated coconut.

Serves 1

This is true nutrient dense fuel.
It is an antioxidant powerhouse that will really help boost immunity and help with recovery and tiredness after exercise.
It’s a mini multi vitamin/multi mineral christmas breakfast bowl.

Christmas Green Smoothie – the perfect festive breakfast or snack

Ingredients:
one small avocado
a handful of spinach
250 mls of rice, oat or coconut milk
two dates
cinnamon, nutmeg or all spice
Serve of plant based protein and or a handful of nuts if desired
Two or three teaspoons of a plant based protein powder can be added as could a handful of nuts for extra protein.

Method:
Blend the avocado, spinach, dates and the rice, oat or coconut milk for thirty seconds and serve.

Serves one.

This sweet green smoothie is packed full of magnesium to help sooth and nourish.
The avocado is a great source of protein and fibre which will help to satisfy you if you’re feeing hungry .
The deep green colour is due to the high chlorophyll levels and will help with detox and energy too.
This smoothie will keep you full and will also help you to control the portion size of your next meal.
Add a sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg or all spice to give this a festive feeling.

Kale, Bean, Spinach and Cranberry Bowl – a healthy Christmas Side Dish

Cook a portion of brown rice – around a third of a cup.
Lightly steam a handful of kale, a handful of spinach together with a few cauliflower florets.
When ready place the brown rice in your bowl, add the spinach, kale and cauliflower – season with turmeric and add a drizzle of coconut or olive oil.
Add a couple of tablespoons white beans and some coconut flakes or nutritional yeast.
Top with a few dried cranberries to make this dish a little more festive.

Festive Raspberry and Chia Energy Burst: a healthy Christmas dessert

Ingredients:
1 cup of Raspberries
1 cup of Blueberries
1 Banana
1 teaspoon of Chia or Linseeds
1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
2 Dates
2 tablespoons of coconut or unsweetened organic greek style yogurt
1 serving of plant based protein if desired
Rice or Almond Milk 200 ml

Method:
Blend in a mixer or blender and then place in the freezer for15 minutes.
This delicious berry based festive dessert contains cinnamon to help reduce cravings.
The blue and red pigments in the berries are great to boost immunity and they also provide energy to help you get through the rest of the day.
Increase protein levels further by adding the linseed or chia seeds and yogurt and add a serving of plant based protein to help with satiety, lean muscle mass, fat burning and toning after exercise.
The dates add vitamins and minerals and provide extra fibre to help keep you full and to help keep blood sugar levels steady.

More lighter dessert options:
Sweet Peach and Sultana with Agave

Steam one large peach and serve with a few sultanas.
Top with a teaspoon of agave and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Spiralised Cinnamon Apple
Spiralise one small apple – add raisons and mixed seeds a teaspoon of cinnamon.
This is tastier if you also add 20 to 30mls of rice milk or a dollop of unsweetened yoghurt.
Baked Honey Pear
Bake one pear for ten minutes on a low heat.
When ready serve with a teaspoon of honey and two teaspoons of coconut yogurt.
Finish off with a handful of goji berries.
Cacao Yoghurt
Fold a teaspoon or two of cacao into 100g of natural greek style yoghurt.
Top with passionfruit or half of a kiwi fruit and add some sultanas, prunes, dates or raisins.


About Rick Hay

Rick Hay is a renowned fitness and food expert with over twenty years experience as a nutritionist. Since relocating to the UK from his native Australia in 2010, Rick has successfully made a name for himself on television where he is currently the resident Health and Fitness Expert for Ideal World TV. He has previously written for Natural Health and Your Fitness magazines and is the author of Nutritional Blast (published February 2016 by Ideal World TV).

Website – http://rickhay.co.uk/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Futrients

Twitter – https://twitter.com/rickhayuk

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/antiageingfoodandfitness/


This post is part of the 12 Days of Clink Street Christmas blogival. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts, which cover a wide range of festive reading tastes.

12 Days of Clink Street Christmas

Heart Note by Cassandra O’Leary

I have received a free e-copy of the book “Heart Note” by Cassandra O’Leary to review.

Heart Note by Cassandra O'Leary

Here is the book blurb.

Love is like a fine perfume. The top note draws you in, an instant attraction, but the Heart Note is the true essence. Like true love – a great perfume should be a woman’s perfect match.

At least, that’s what perfume counter manager, Lily Lucas, tells her customers in one of Australia’s largest department stores.

It’s almost Christmas, the store is bedecked with baubles and Lily has about eleventy billion gifts to wrap and sell. She and her team of spritzer chicks are glamorous, professional and hoping they don’t have to wear the hideous red onesies and reindeer antlers the store manager has in mind.

The high point of Lily’s work life is Christos Cyriakos, ex-cop, security guard, possible Greek god. He’s a mystery box she’d love to unwrap. But can she trust him?

All Lily wants for Christmas is to kiss Christos (and more), catch a band of thieves running amok in the store, and live happily ever after. Is that too much to wish for?

This is a short Christmas romcom novella and is the first book in the Spritzer Chicks series, although written as a stand-alone read.

The story starts with Lily on a training course for her new job as perfume counter manager, where in an exercise, handsome Christos catches her as she falls. It turns out that he is the new security guard at the same department store. Unfortunately Lily hates the smell of the Christmas promotional Heart-mas scent that she has to spray on unsuspecting customers and is fed up hearing the Heart-mas ad played over and over again, even though it is only early November. As she redoes a gift box display, she steps on a ribbon and slips over. Once again, it is Christos to the rescue, who Lily is already fantasising about. But in contrast, she prays she won’t have to wear one of the hideous red onesie, gold antler outfits that the casual staff have been kitted out with. And she isn’t quite so impressed when Christos asks her if she can observe the shop floor for anything odd. He believes there may be an inside theft job going on under their noses.

Plenty of humour and will Lily get her man?

Heart Note is available on Amazon, currently priced at 99p in Kindle format or from any of these stores. A nice light funny romantic Christmas read, easily read in one day.

And the author is hosting a rafflecopter competition in conjunction with Rachel’s Random Resources to giveaway 5 e-copies of Heart Note. Open worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.


About the author

**Winner of the We Heart New Talent contest, HarperCollins UK. Nominated for BEST NEW AUTHOR in the 2016 AusRom Today Reader’s Choice Awards for excellence in Australian romance fiction.**

Cassandra O’Leary is a romance and women’s fiction author, communications specialist, avid reader, film and TV fangirl and admirer of pretty, shiny things.

In 2015, Cassandra won the We Heart New Talent contest run by Avon Books/HarperCollins UK. Her debut romantic comedy novel, Girl on a Plane, was published in July 2016. Cassandra was also a 2015 finalist in the Lone Star writing contest, Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America, and a 2014 finalist in the First Kiss contest, Romance Writers of Australia.

Cassandra is a mother of two gorgeous, high-energy mini ninjas and wife to a spunky superhero. Living in Melbourne, Australia, she’s also travelled the world. If you want to send her to Italy or Spain on any food or wine tasting ‘research’ trips, that would be splendiferous. You’ll find Cassandra online, drinking coffee and possibly buying shoes. Oh, yes. And writing.

Social Media Links

Facebook – www.facebook.com/cassandraolearyauthor

Twitter – @cass_oleary

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.co.uk/cassandissima/heart-note/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/cassandissima/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15272644.Cassandra_O_Leary

Website – http://cassandraolearyauthor.com/


I’m participating in the blog blitz and you may like to check out some of the other blogs on the blitz.

Heart Note by Cassandra O'Leary

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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Christmas gifts for under £5 – the SDfiverChallenge

Hope it is not too early to mention the Christmas word. Britmums have challenged bloggers to take the Christmas #sdfiverchallenge to find some great gifts for £5. And as one of the first 100 to sign upto the challenge, I received a free £30 SportsDirect voucher to purchase my gifts.

Now I regularly pop into our local branch of SportsDirect to buy football boots for the boys and my running gear. So I have noticed other items like kids’ wellingtons but had no idea that they stocked toys and other gifts.

Sportsdirect.com is not just football boots and inexpensive trainers. It features fashion brands, leisurewear and more! Because of its buying power, Sportsdirect.com is able to get products you’d expect to pay more for elsewhere. Their range of £5 gifts for Christmas means you can shop for family, friends, teachers and even your book-club buddies for less!

I think I am trying to do my Christmas shopping too early, as this gift link wasn’t visible from the homepage menu. But that didn’t put me off and I chose the following gifts from their £5 and under range.

SportsDirect gifts

A Manchester City Fidget Spinner for £5

and a 4 piece Minions wash set for £2. I think I must have got the last one of these, as I couldn’t find it subsequently to add the link. Hopefully they will restock this. I did notice that most of the items in the gift range were aimed at children.

However sticking with the £5 price, I bought some other items, not from the Christmas range, but just as good for gifts in my opinion. These were
Star Wars mens underwear
I chose to buy 2 pairs of these as they were priced at £5 each or 2 for £8.

Marvel Civil War t-shirt
Minions trunks
The trunks are a tried and tested product as we already have a similar pair in a different design, which need replacing due to fading.

These all came to a total of £25 as I had saved the remaining £5 for shipping.

I then completed the checkout process easily but do have one complaint. When I added my voucher code, it automatically repriced my multi-buy on the men’s underwear back to the original price with no prior warning. This was disappointing, as I ended up paying £2 more than anticipated.

Standard shipping is a flat rate of £4.99, but I did notice that they do offer an alternative collect in store service, where they reimburse the shipping with a £5 voucher. Seems a rather cheeky way of enticing you to make another purchase. Why not just offer a free collect in store service.

SportsDirect gifts

I was pleased with the dispatch service as the items were delivered very quickly and the clothes were all individually wrapped in polythene. However a total failure when I tried to remove price labels from the fidget spinner and the wash set. When I buy something from a gift range, I expect to be able to easily remove the price, not end up with the result in this photo below.

SportsDirect gifts - Fidget Spinner

Also if I pay £5 for an item like the Minions swimming trunks, I’m not particularly impressed to receive them with a price label of £2.50, half the price I actually paid. At least son2 was happy.

SportsDirect gifts

Son1 wasn’t quite so convinced though as I had decided to get him a t-shirt in the next size up to ensure he didn’t grow out of it too quickly. But it was huge. Never mind, he will grow into it. So full marks to SportsDirect on sizing, as it looks like it would have been roomy enough if I had got it his actual age.

SportsDirect gifts

And I’ve already mentioned how I was disappointed to end up paying £10 rather than £8 for 2 pairs of men’s underwear. To rub salt into the wound, they arrived complete with “2 for £8” labels still.

SportsDirect gifts

So in summary, yes I succeeded with the #sdfiverchallenge of buying plenty of gifts for £5 or less, but I did have a few issues along the way.

I’d love to hear what you would buy from the SportsDirect Christmas range?

And subsequent to the delivery, I’m very pleased to say that SportsDirect refunded the additional £2 that I had paid.

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Disclosure. This post mentions products I purchased using a voucher I was sent for free. All opinions are my own. This post is an entry for BritMums #sdfiverchallenge Christmas Challenge, sponsored by Sportsdirect.com.

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12 Days of Clink Street Christmas – Red Scarf by John Hickling

I have received an exclusive special Christmas short story Red Scarf written by John Hickling, to share with you. Earlier this year, I read Champagne & Lemonade, a collection of his short stories, which I enjoyed, so I was looking forward to this. And I have to say, it certainly lived up to expectation. So I hope you like it too.

12 Days of Clink Street Christmas

Red Scarf

The snow was thick and blissful on 23rd of December. The beautiful white streets of this normally dirty City were bursting with life, people of all ages and race shopped for xmas presents for their loved ones. Christmas trees, decorations and lights were strewn all over, making the streets look like a delightfully pretty xmas scene painting. Unfortunately, not everything was perfect, as beggar’s, the unfortunates were dotted around the City. Shivering, wrapped up in anything they could get their hands on, to try and keep warm.

A couple of streets away were a married couple, both in their late forties, they were wrapped up in thick long coats and wore matching red scarves. They battled their way through the deep snow with bags full of xmas presents. Turning into a dark alleyway back to their parked car, there were a couple of beggars tucked up in old sleeping bags.

“Spare any change? Please” Croaked an elderly scruffy looking man. The man in the red scarf rummaged through his pockets and passed the beggar a couple of quid.

“Bless ya” mumbled the beggar. The couple smiled and carried on their walk. Further on, from nowhere, two men jumped out on the couple knocking the woman to the snow covered ground. Her husband fought back but was overpowered, one of the attackers pulled out a knife, the red scarfed man looked death in the eye, when a scruffy boy, hit the attacker with a traffic cone. The other assailant pushed the boy to the ground and grabbing what they could they ran away. The red scarfed man gingerly got to his feet. The boy jumped up and fled.

“Wait” yelled the man, then rushed to his aid his semi-conscious Wife.

The couple, whose names were Alan and Mandy, were drinking coffee in the police station. Mandy still had a groggy head which was not helped by ‘I wish It could be Christmas every day’ blaring out the radio. Alan who suffers from OCD was getting very irritated by the scruffy, leaning to the left Xmas tree.

The investigating officer read over the statement. Two men, both dark hair, one with a scruffy beard, 35 to 45 in age, both in black clothing. A boy in jeans, black ripped jacket, blue peaked woolly hat, 16 to 17 in age. Some bottles of wine, a games console and perfumes were taken. It was established that the couple had never seen the boy before or noticed where he came from.

“Transport has arrived to take you both home Sir. We will be in touch with any information”

“Thank you officer, will you please promise to search for the boy? He shouldn’t be on the streets, not just at Christmas, but at all” said the weak smiling woman, squeezing Alans hand.

“We will madam. Please go home and get some rest. The couple bid farewell and merry Christmas and left.

At the couple’s home, Mandy was in tears clutching a photograph of her, her husband and their daughter who had been swept of a pier on a daytrip to the coast over a year ago. They were all wearing matching red scarves, gloves and hats, that were Christmas presents, she was 13 at the time. Her body was never recovered.

“I do hope the boy is alright Alan” murmured Mandy. Alan held her tight.

The snow was now swirling down, it was very dark and cold. The boy, who was below a brick archway under a bridge, had managed to get a fire going and was munching on a sandwich he had bought from his begging takings. He bedded down in his smelly sleeping bag.

In an old abandoned warehouse, the two robbers were sat around an old oil drum that housed a fire. The robber with the beard was rubbing his head.

“I tell ya, that boy, he could blow on us if the coppers find him, we must find him first” The other robber nodded has he looked through the stolen bags.

Christmas Eve and Alan had just got off the phone from the police who had informed him that so far they had neither found the robbers or the boy. It was 630pm. Alan and Mandy were concerned for the boy’s safety. Alan felt it was his duty to at least look for him, after all he had saved his life. Alan wrapped his red scarf around his neck, donned his thick coat, hat and gloves.

“I must at least try Mandy I just hope to god those two scumbags are not after him” His wife hugged him. But that is what was happening, the two robbers had been searching for the boy.

Later, Alan asked a beggar, who he had given a fiver and a sandwich, if he knew of a young boy of his description. The beggar had told him to try the bridge brick archways, there are a few young uns that go there.

The boy was really feeling the cold, he hadn’t eaten since the sandwich and shivering he desperately tried to light a fire, when he thought he heard a noise. He looked around but couldn’t see anything, so attempted to light his fire.

“Well, well” yelled the bearded robber who was stood a few metres in front of the boy, the boy started to run but the other robber jumped on him. Both robbers had clubs and dragged the boy into the archway, the robber without the beard was about to whack the boy when he himself groaned and fell to the floor. Alan had hit him over the head with a stick, the bearded robber grabbed the boy, facing Alan

“Let the boy go” Alan shouted. The bearded robber laughed then pulled out a gun, the boy kicked the robbers leg and Alan threw the stick at his face, the gun dropped.

“Run” roared Alan, grabbing the boy. The robber grabbed his gun and gave chase. Alan and the boy struggled up a snow covered banking. The boy slipped and banged his head. Alan dragged the dazed boy to the top but the robber was right behind and fired a shot in the air. Alan and the boy stood with hands raised. The robber grinned

“Who’s first” he pressed the trigger but it jammed. Alan lunged at him pushing him down the bank, he and the boy ran.

At the police station, which was full of the usual xmas drunks, the two robbers were in custody, Alan and the scared boy were in a room, Mandy was also there. The police had constantly tried to quiz the boy who was looking more frightened by the second.

“Stop it” Said Mandy passing the boy a sandwich, the boy whose face was so dirty and bruised tucked in.

“We would like to thank you for helping us yesterday. We only want to help you. What is your name honey?” smiled Mandy, her husband and the police nodded. The confused looking boy, shrugged and mumbled.

“I am not sure; I can’t remember” tears welled up his eyes.

“Are you hurt? You did get a bang on the head when we slid down the banking” Prompted Alan. The boy held his dirty face in his hands and shrugged.

The officer was just about to go into another volley full of questioning, when Mandy pulled them all aside.

“Look the boy is hurt, confused and very scared, you will only frighten him more with the constant questions. Let me and Alan take him home, give him a nice meal, a bath and a bed, then I am sure he will come around” Alan smiled as he and his wife held hands. The police whispered among themselves for a couple of minutes, before agreeing with Mandy. Everyone was happy, even Mandy smiled at ‘I wish it could be Christmas every day’ on the radio.

Back at the couple’s house Alan had hung up their coats, red scarfs and hats, while Mandy put on the kettle. The boy stood near the fire looking confused.

“Please don’t be scared, I will make you something nice to eat. First I will run the bath” smiled Mandy. The boy smiled back.

“Let me hang up your coat” Alan said, gesturing for the boy to take of his dirty ripped jacket. The boy looked around at all the decorations then back at Alan and Mandy, smiling he proceeded to take of his woolly peaked hat and coat. The couple stood opened mouthed at the scruffy, thin looking blonde haired girl, with a red scarf around her neck.


About John Hickling

Proud father and grandfather, and jack of all trades John A.D. Hickling currently lives with his family in Nottingham. A lover of music, especially 60’s rock, John has previously recorded two independent albums, appeared in comedy band Space Cadets on Britain’s Got Talent and is an active member of Masque Productions amateur theatre group. His debut book, Champagne & Lemonade (published by Clink Street Publishing July 5th 2016 RRP £6.99 paperback, RRP £3.99 ebook) is available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores. For more information please visit www.johnchewyhickling.com or find John on Facebook or Twitter.

Champagne & Lemonade by John Hickling


I’m participating in the 12 Days of Clink Street Christmas blogival. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts, which cover a wide range of festive reading tastes.

12 days of Clink Street Christmas blogtour

Visit Yet Another Blogging Mummy on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram

MamaMummyMum

Disclosure. This post contains an exclusive short story I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

Personalised Christmas cards and voucher giveaway

We’ve been creative and made our own personalised Christmas photo cards this year. Firstly I took some festive photographs of the boys and then chose the following two shots to use for our Christmas cards.

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas

I uploaded these to Snapfish who have given me a free £25 voucher for the purpose of this review. I already have an account with Snapfish, as I have reviewed their products previously for both Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

But I recall that it was very simple to set up an account with Snapfish and it is also easy to upload photos.

Then comes the more time-consuming part, namely choosing your Christmas card designs as there is a huge range, over 1200 of them. Of course, you can do this quickly by limiting your selection to what you see on the first page, but I wanted to browse around a bit. There are plenty of filters to narrow your choice such as how many images you want on your card, orientation and colour. You can also narrow down by size and flat or folded card, but bizarrely I couldn’t find a way of combining this with the other filter.

I had already decided that I wanted folded cards using one image per card. I also wanted minimal text on the inside, as I intended to write my own greetings inside. So this is what I chose, both in size 7×5″.

Snapfish personalised photo Christmas cards

The cards cost £1.25 each because I bulk-ordered 20 cards. The pricing is on a sliding scale, which currently ranges from £1.99 for an individual card down to 75p for 100+ cards.Snapfish personalised photo Christmas cards

Snapfish personalised photo Christmas cards

The cards arrived quickly, well before the estimated delivery date and were well packed. They looked great, nice and glossy.  Also 15p of the purchase price of each card goes to Macmillan Cancer Support.

I am very happy with my Snapfish personalised photo Christmas cards and recommend that you take a look. They also do a wide range of other personalised products including Christmas baubles. Please note that the last order date for Christmas is 20th December.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a £25 Snapfish voucher to one lucky winner. What a great prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear what you would choose from Snapfish?

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Disclosure.  I received a voucher to purchase items from Snapfish.  All opinions are my own.

Twenty Four Days to Christmas by Fred Arthur

As we approach the Advent season, we are waiting for our free paperback copy of children’s Christmas book “Twenty Four Days to Christmas” by Fred Arthur to arrive. In the meantime, we have been looking at the kindle version. Just like how you can have Advent candles as an alternative to an Advent calendar, here is a book with a tale for each day of Advent.

Twenty Four Days to Christmas by Fred Arthur

Here is the book blurb.

Poppy is in agony – it is the First of December and she has twenty-four days to wait until Christmas and she is convinced that she will not be able to contain her excitement and impatience: How can she possibly wait so long for Santa to arrive? Poppy’s parents put their heads together and come up with a cunning plan that has Poppy completing a different, Christmas themed activity every day, to keep Her busy until Christmas (and Santa) finally arrives. Twenty-Four Days To Christmas is an Advent Calendar of a book, which can be read one day at a time, or as a complete story, and centres on Christmas, family and the magic of the Christmas season.

This book is truly delightful and beautifully illustrated. It can be read each day throughout Advent or alternatively all in one go. Think of it as an Advent calendar but as a book. It is packed full of 24 Christmas activities for Poppy to participate in, all thought up by her parents to keep her busy so she forgets her impatience at waiting for the big day itself.

It is one of those timeless Christmas books that we shall enjoy year after year, just like The Night Before Christmas.

Twenty Four Days To Christmas by Fred Arthur

Twenty Four Days to Christmas is available on Amazon, currently priced at £5.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. and is published by Clink Street Publishing. Written by Fred Arthur and illustrated by Paul Winward. I highly recommend this gorgeous children’s Advent book. I’ve read the story in one go and we are looking forward to reading it together on a day by day basis throughout Advent. Son1 has also already enjoyed dipping into it.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free. I will shortly also be receiving it in paperback format.  All opinions are my own.

The tasty alternative to a greetings card plus giveaway

I’ve reached the reminder in my list that says to buy Christmas cards. I have to say I buy much fewer of these now than I used to, mostly just for the boys to send to their school friends. Beyond that I tend to mainly send charity e-cards or I prefer to do something a little bit more memorable for close family and friends.

So I was interested to hear about Morse Toad Messaging which is a tasty alternative to a greetings card. They specialise in putting a smile on someone’s face with a surprise personalised chocolate delivery. And they gave me a free £10 voucher to spend on their website.

I showed the website to the boys and they wanted to surprise their dad with one. We decided to  stick with the seasonal theme, but as it is far too early to have a Christmassy house, we just dug out their Christmas hats for a photo, ready to personalise their gift.

Christmas hats

They chose the “Best Dad in the World” wording which currently retails at £12.50. We wrote a personalised message to be printed on the reverse of the card insert. And I uploaded their photo for the front of the card which cost an additional £1. Or there were a few free images of Morse Toad in his top hat that you can choose from instead of uploading your own image. All told, the ordering process was very quick and simple. And shipping is free for all UK orders over £5.

Alternatively you can personalise the wording for your chocolate. There are 11 character spaces per row and you may have up to 4 rows.

Morse Toad Messaging Chocolate

The service was very quick. I placed the order in the evening and had an email the next afternoon to say it had been dispatched. Two days later it arrived. It was well packed and is letterbox size.

Morse Toad Messaging Chocolate

Morse Toad Messaging Chocolate

Doesn’t that look fantastic, full of tasty Belgian chocolate? Wouldn’t you just love to give or receive one of these?

Plus I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a £15 voucher to spend at Morse Toad Messaging. So the lucky winner gets to choose how to spend their prize. Open worldwide.

And I have an offer to pass on to my readers – 10% off your order at Morse Toad Messaging with discount code: “YABMummy” (expires Christmas Day).
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear who you would like to give a Morse Toad chocolate message to and for what occasion?

Visit Yet Another Blogging Mummy on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram

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Disclosure. I received a £10 voucher towards purchasing goods from Morse Toad. All opinions are my own.