Over-Coming the Challenges of Civilian Life

An article from Hire A Hero blog –

Joining the civilian world is never easy and you will face obstacles that you need to overcome but as a service leaver this isn’t anything you haven’t had to do before. You just need to work out how best to do it in a new environment…..

Read more at http://ow.ly/kJ9nD


Naked Bakes Cupcake Masterclass

What could be more tempting on a sunny, Sunday afternoon than a delicious cupcake…or 4? Nothing as far as I’m concerned and these are even no guilt cupcakes as the diet always starts first thing Monday morning.

My sister and I always have difficulty in choosing birthday gifts for mum. She is one of those difficult people to buy for who never has any idea what they want or doesn’t really need anything. Any random items we do buy are pretty much forgotten about a few weeks later. Where’s the sentiment in that? My mum does however always say she would like to spend more time with her favourite daughters, ‘just the three of us’.

While desperately browsing online for a birthday gift idea I came across Blytheswood Square Hotel’s Cupcake Masterclass. The perfect gift! combining the three B’s: Baking, Bonding and Butter Icing.  What more could three ladies want?

As you will know from one of my previous blog entries; A Stay At The Blytheswood  I have had an amazing experience at the Blytheswood once before so to say my expectations of events promoted and held within the hotel would be an understatement. They have a standard which is impeccable. I expected a lot.

The event host Pauline runs her own business Naked Bakes. They use only the finest ingredients with no colouring, additives or flavour enhancing chemicals. The purest of pure cupcakes! That is what makes them so guilt free (please ignore calorie content) or as Naked Bakes put it ;

No Gunk! No Junk! Just Love!

And once again I have to give a great review to the Blytheswood and most of all to Naked Bakes.

The class, which lasted about an hour and a half, started with a glass of Prosecco on arrival and we were all invited to take our seats. With just enough people in the class to feel like you were not being constantly under observation by cupcake decorating pro Pauline, though not too many that you felt like you couldn’t have one on one time and ask questions, the balance was just right.

Being unusual as always I seemed to find the simplest decorations the most difficult and the most difficult the easiest. I must say I managed a pretty impressive rose cupcake as my final masterpiece. Too good to eat and what’s even better is that you didn’t have to (well not till later that day anyway once you cave into the butter icing temptation) as after the class a delicious afternoon tea was served along with Pauline’s very own cupcakes. Absolutely delicious and without a doubt some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted! (and I’ve eaten a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery in New York!).

So, be it to spend time with the girls, bond with family or to curb the ultimate sweet tooth, I would really recommend the Naked Bakes Cupcake Masterclass.

The Daily Deal Phenomenon – How These Websites Can Work For You and Your Company

It’s happened. I have become a daily deal addict.
Groupon, Living Social and Wowcher tempt me to part with my money on a daily basis for things that I may not necessarily need but at such hugely discounted prices, who can say no?!
It’s only January and I’ve already purchased my Mother’s Day present as well as treating myself and one other lucky individual to a massage and facial deal with a price that was just too good to be true.
To be honest I am amazed that many companies make money from the daily deals they offer through promotion websites. A full Swedish massage, Indian head massage and facial for two cost me £38. A saving of 76% on the usual price though surprisingly companies really do benefit. Between 55% and 61% of businesses running daily deals do make money on their promotions despite the huge discount (Rice University study 25/06/2012).
At my time of purchase 98 other coupons had been purchased from Groupon for this particular deal which had only been online for 48 hours (you do the math). I also know that particularly with beauty parlors and hairdressers you are very likely to return or even become a regular client if you are happy with the service. Even if next time round you have to fork out the extra 76%.
This has also happened to me. A great daily deal appeared in my inbox for a cut and blow dry (which I was desperately in need of I told myself) and saving me 60%. After my visit to the hairdressers I was impressed and have since returned to pay the full price. Of course companies could not always offer such hugely discounted rates, they rely on good service and word of mouth the promote them after their daily deal has expired. So, if you are running a good, honest service then it’s win win.
It really is a great promotional tool particularly for smaller companies to get their name out there and to get people in the door.
One particular start up company I have spoken to and done promotion work for listed themselves on Groupon towards the end of last year. As a gift wrapping company it was a great way for them to pull in business when they were going through a quiet spell before Christmas. It allowed them to raise their profile as well as bring in some all important revenue.
23 million Groupon subscribers worldwide purchased at least one deal in 2011. A customer getting those daily emails and paying for those hugely discounted deals really turns into a once you start you just can’t stop. Everyone loves a bargain, particularly a very high quality one and I say this from first hand experience.

Feeling Like A Puppy Mum

If anyone hasn’t already heard me continually going on about my Christmas then you either;

A. Don’t have me as a friend on Facebook

B. Don’t follow me on Twitter

C. Don’t follow me on Instagram

or D. You don’t know me whatsoever

If you have been lucky enough to be noticing me on my favourite social media sites then you will surely know by now that I had the best Christmas ever as I got the best present ever..

A Puppy! 

Say hello to Dexter

Say hello to Dexter

I am now officially a puppy mum.

I’ve always wanted a dog. Never realising , until now just how much work they are. But Dexter is just far too cute for words so I can’t complain. I even still think he’s cute when he wakes me up at 5 o’clock every morning wanting to play. There goes my long lies!

A Cardiff Life For Me …

A wee diary entry I wrote after my first few weeks in Wales. It’s nice to read these things back and see where you are now….

So today marks three weeks since I first arrived in South Wales and so far so good! My transition has been fairly simple to be honest, beside missing my amazing friends and family I have been so busy learning the ropes in work and getting settled that I haven’t had much time to think. Though here are some of the things my travels have made apparent:

What Cardiff needs from Glasgow:

  • square sausages. Breakfast isn’t the same without them.
  • tips on dressing for the weather. Ok, it is no where near as cold here as it is in Glasgow but the number of people I have seen wearing Crocs in the last few weeks is concerning. Particularly in the rain. In October.
  • all of my friends and family. Here. NOW!
  • A bank holiday on the 1st of January. Those in Scotland celebrate Hogmanay in style and working on the first day of a new year should be illegal everywhere.
  • some of those amazing twinkly lights across the top of the streets (Royal Exchange Square).

What Glasgow needs from Cardiff:

  • Krispy Kreme. Those north of the border are having their taste buds robbed!
  • A double the size ah-maz-ing Vivienne Westwood shop. I love the store in Glasgow but I walk past the Cardiff store daily and stare in with love heart shaped pupils.
  • A Cardiff Bay for shopping, eating, drinking and relaxing. I love it.
Source: DaveButcher.co.uk

Source: DaveButcher.co.uk

Eclipse Christmas Event Promotion

I had the following article published on the Morgan Quarter website to promote Eclipse Gift Wrappings up and coming Christmas event;


Eclipse Gift Wrapping for Christmas in the Royal Arcade – December 14, 2012

Be extra prepared this Christmas and maintain your festive cheer by visiting the Eclipse Gift Wrapping team in the Morgan Quarter from Saturday 15th December till Christmas Eve.

Situated in units 9 to 11 of the Royal Arcade, Alison Westwood and Louise Wensley take gift wrapping to a whole new level and you can bet that your perfect Christmas gifts will be even more perfectly wrapped from as little as £1.95

The professional gift wrapping duo can help with any wrapping woes at the walk in service as well as adding your own personal touch through a choice of papers, cellophanes and tissues, all beautifully finished off with a handmade bow. Be it wrapping a simple box, a more unusually shaped item or creating a hamper, Alison and Louise can offer simple, professional and creative techniques, help and advice.

And for those who become inspired by the professional tips and tricks items such as gift boxes, wrapping paper, cellophane and a large selection of ribbon will be available to purchase to give you the chance to give it a try yourself. All you need to finish off your Christmas shopping by topping it all off with a bow at the Morgan Quarter with Eclipse Gift Wrapping.


View it in the flesh: http://www.royalarcadecardiff.com/blog/eclipse-gift-wrapping-for-christmas-in-the-royal-arcade

How to Wrap the Perfect Present

Eclipse gift wrapping service, based in Porthcawl, are professionals  with a roll of sticky tape. Jennifer Lilley went along for a lesson…

Measure the paper properly

Over or under cutting leads to so much wasted gift wrapping paper – working  with just the right amount of material makes the process much easier.

For a rectangular ended box, start by measuring the entire circumference with  ribbon and add an inch extra on the end to allow a seam to be made. Then cut to  size.

Measure the width and place the box onto the wrapping paper with the width  measurement free on each side.

This applies to wrapping all rectangular ended boxes including DVDs, though  in this case, with the end being so small it can be a little fiddly.

To help, cut a long semi-circle in one side of the end covering, though be  careful to leave enough to still cover the gift.

This means that when folding the end of the paper into the gift there is no  unnecessary bulk sticking out of the end.

For square ended boxes, the same tips apply, but when first measuring the  width, only measure to half way up the box with your ribbon.

Presentation is key

In professional gift wrapping, the sight of sticky tape is a big no-no.

Double sided tape is the key to perfectly-wrapped presents.

Bad presentation also shows in raw edges of paper on the end of a gift.

So the simplest solution, say Alison and Louise, is to always create a seam  fold at the edge so any ragged ended paper is concealed.

Bored? Make a night of it. Invite friends over and wrap your Christmas gifts  together.

Be creative

“As people become more aware of environmental issues, they also become  increasingly aware of what they use as gift wrapping materials”, says Alison.  Reusing and recycled materials have become a big trend, with people opting for  brown paper and string over the usual colourful paper and multiple ribbons.

“There are lots of things around the house you can use to gift wrap,” adds  Alison. “Spare buttons can be used as decoration, newspaper can be moulded into  gift bags and even crisp packets which have been washed and turned inside out  can be lovely silver wrapping for small gifts.”

Japanese wrapping technique, Furoshiki has also become popular recently, the  method being that materials and fabrics are used to wrap instead of paper.

“This method allows the wrapping material to become part of the gift.”

Use appropriate materials

Wrapping a bottle or triangular shaped gift in wrapping paper will never be  simple.

“It’s easier and much more presentable to wrap a bottle in tissue followed by  cellophane,” says Louise.

“Then add ribbon, a bow or other decoration.”

If the wrapping materials are flexible then it’s much simpler to wrap  difficult shaped items – the wrapping should mould to the gift and not the other  way around.

If all else fails – cover it with a bow

Beautiful bows are easier to make than you may think.

Take a roll of ribbon, make a loop on the end (which can vary depending on  how big you want the final bow to be) and begin to repeatedly loop the ribbon  around the original loop up to 12 times.

Then, cut the ribbon, keeping your finger on the end to maintain the loop and  secure with sticky tape on the inside (where the loop began) and the outside  (where the loop finished).

With the ribbon secure in a full circle shape, pinch it in the middle and tie  a thin piece of ribbon tightly around the centre in a knot.

Once this is secure, the tape can be removed from the inner and outer and you  can begin to pull out the individual ribbon strands from either side with a  twisting motion as you do so.

When doing this, you’re able to mould and shape the ribbon so it looks  exactly how you want it to.


Read my official article at: Wales Online http://www.walesonline.co.uk/useful-information/christmas/survival-guide/2012/12/11/how-to-wrap-the-perfect-christmas-present-91466-32400656/#ixzz2IW4NNux4