Wednesday, 25 May 2016

What to buy for Father's Day when men are SO hard to buy for?!

It's Father's Day on June 19th this year... so what do you get the
man who pretty much has everything he could ever want? 

Why are men so impossibly hard to buy a gift for? Unless they are the type who has a specific hobby or interest (or unless you have an unlimited income!), it can be difficult to find the right present. Which can make the looming Father's Day (June 19th) a bit tricky...


Take my own husband (please! - ha ha, only joking, ahem), he is a prime example. Come birthday or Christmas or Father’s Day for example, and it’s usually the same scenario: me stumped for ideas. If I ask him what he wants his usual reply is: “nothing really”. I think perhaps one of these days I’ll call his bluff - I know for sure that if he was really given “nothing” he’d feel pretty fed up!

I think this is one of the main differences between men and women. Ask me what I want for my birthday and I usually have a list for you - a rolling one - which gets carried over from Christmas to birthday! It’s not that I’m greedy, but there’s always something you’d love to own, right?

I’m assuming your man is not a millionaire and therefore already has everything in the world, so when you put aside the unrealistic sports-car-type gifts, is there anything left out there that you can buy for him that would really, really delight him? Something with a “wow” factor?

The tacky gadgets that get left in a cupboard - the golf ball polisher and the remote control fart machine - understandably have a short life. So what can you buy the man in your life who either has everything, or more likely, no idea what he wants?

The right personalised gift can prove to be an ideal solution. Something that raises a smile, or laughter even. Get it right and you could just be finding the perfect gift that ticks all the boxes. Ideally it would be something truly thoughtful that will be treasured for many years, or perhaps something both fun and practical. If you can do all that you can relax - you’ve done it, you’ve found the perfect gift. Now all you need to worry about is the next gift time…!

Find fun, touching, thoughtful and practical personalised gifts for him at www.PhotoFairytales.co.uk. Bespoke gifts and keepsakes created to order and truly original. Gifts for him: for birthday, Christmas, Father’s Day, anniversary.

Sarah x

Friday, 20 May 2016

New range of personalised mugs - and a FREE one up for grabs!

Have you seen the new PhotoFairytales personalised mugs yet? 

I'm rather pleased with my new range of personalised mugs! With gorgeous graphics and colours, I think there are designs that will appeal to all ages...


Each mug can be personalised with your chosen name or message, and they're completely dishwasher proof too so they can be used every day.

At just £12.75 and with free UK delivery, they make a great little present that they'll enjoy using for their daily cuppa. These personalised mug designs are all exclusive to PhotoFairytales - see the full range by clicking here!


A fun and practical personalised gift, for so many different occasions:

Father's Day
Teacher 'Thank You' Gift
Birthday
Anniversary
Christmas
Gift for a Work Colleague
Mother's Day
Valentine's Day

Would you like a FREE mug?

Head on over to the PhotoFairytales Facebook page before midday on Friday 27th May and see the post pinned to the top of the page for details!

Sarah :)

Monday, 16 May 2016

Handpicked Gift Collection from Gift Wrapped & Gorgeous

I'm very proud to say that I have a PhotoFairytales boutique on the Gift Wrapped & Gorgeous site. If you haven't discovered the site yet, I'm sure it will become a firm favourite with you.

Full of carefully curated and chosen gifts, fashion, jewellery, home decor items and more, the site picks a wide range of items from small and independent British creators and designers like me.

Their slogan is 'a gift less ordinary' - and a well chosen slogan it is too!


Here are just a few picks I've personally made from the site - it's a hard job, because there are so many gorgeous things to choose from!

1: A Star is Born New Baby Personalised Keepsake, by Little Things by E - £18.00

2: Personalised Wedding Dress Label, by Extra Special Touch - £18.50

3: Love from Lola 'Bloom' Felt Flower Dog Collar Accessory in Fuchsia and Lime, by Love from Lola - £14.50

4: Delicate Lace Design Fused Glass Coasters, by Claire Demetri Glass Design - £27.50

5: Crystal Bulb Atomiser Guinevere Fragrance 70ml, by Les Romantiques - £80.00

6: A Metal Chicken Garden Ornament Called Henny, by Down To Earth Metalwork - £19.75

7: Personalised Solid Oak Wooden Benches, by Make Me Something Special - £395.00

Sarah x

Friday, 13 May 2016

The joy of bread...

Trust me, if I could find a way of turning this into a Scratch 'n Sniff Blog I would - because if you were here right now with me you'd be breathing in one of the MOST delicious smells on the planet... the smell of bread baking. Ahhhhhhhhh.... heaven!


Let me give you a little glimpse into life at PhotoFairytales HQ: every Friday morning I bake bread. I do it during the week too, but on varying days. Whereas Friday morning has become a pattern because the whole bread eating thing becomes more frequent when everyone's home all day.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not elbow deep in flour, kneading and proving, and being all uber-houswifeish! Nope, I cheat, I've got a bread maker - in 5 minutes flat I have all the ingredients chucked in the pan and the machine is doing it all for me. It's on just shy of a 3 hour programme, which means that about this time on a Friday morning I'm getting both barrels of that gorgeous bread smell. It's almost ready!!

I started baking bread not long ago, so I'm just starting out. My mum kindly let me borrow her bread machine for a few months to see how I got on before making the commitment and buying my own machine. Within a month I was online and scouring the many different brands available having quickly made my mind up that there was no going back!

So what have I learnt in the 3 or 4 months since I started baking my own bread? Well, I know that mixing white and wholemeal flour works when I want to do my own version of that 50/50 type bread. I know that adding as much sugar as it states in the recipe is too much - I've cut down from 2tbsp to 1tbsp. I found 2tbsp made the bread far too sweet, but bread seems to need some sugar to help the yeast do its thing. I use just less than half of the recommended salt too - and I've used Low Salt and normal salt, and both work just as well. I've experimented with yeast amounts too - and found that cutting that back a tiny bit actually makes for a nicer loaf.

But my biggest tip of all? How to get a soft crust...


Don't get me wrong, we all like a nice crunchy loaf - but when you're using the bread for sandwiches, etc too you don't always necessarily want the loaf to be crunchy all the time. So, to get a nice soft crust that still has a bit of good 'chew factor' to it, and to stop the bread being a bit on the crumbly side, I've basically upped the fat content. The recipe told me to use water - but I now use roughly 2/3 milk to 1/3 water. And instead of using 2tbsp of butter I now use 2tbsp of oil. And it works every time :) When I get the bread out of the machine I wrap it in a clean tea towel which also seems to help it keep its softness as it cools.

Sorry, this has turned into a bit of a cooking and baking type blog this week, hasn't it? Ooh, the bread machine's just beeped - got to go!

Sarah x

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Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Sugar-Free Chocolate Truffles Recipe

Fruit packed sugar free chocolate truffles
It was good news today when Public Health England announced that tooth decay in five year olds has dropped to its lowest level in almost a decade.

As a mum, I’m aware of how much we have to keep an eye on sugar consumption, especially as so much of it isn’t always easy to spot. But it’s important to strike a middle balance I think in the battle to keep sugar at bay - some would say swinging too far in the other direction makes sugar even more tempting!


I know we’re supposed to stop thinking of certain foods as ‘treats’ - or if we must, to term healthy options as ‘treats’ too. But it’s hard to persuade your child (especially as they get older) that some carrot sticks or an apple are a treat in quite the same way as a biscuit! Unless you start with that ethos from the moment your baby is born - and get everyone they’re ever likely to meet out of the home on board too - you might be setting the bar too high!

So, to maybe help a little bit, I thought I’d share my sugar-free chocolate truffle recipe with you - my daughter loves these, and certainly looks on them as a treat! I think part of the reason why they work so well is because they tick all the sweet treat boxes:

  1. They’re sweet
  2. They look and taste chocolatey
  3. They’re ‘picky’ sized - so you can get that “ooh a treat”/finger food type feeling you’d get from chocolates or sweets!

Now, I’ll be honest here: they’re not 100% sugar free - but they’re as near as dammit! And if you wanted to make them completely free of sugar it wouldn’t be too tricky. They take about 10-15 minutes to make, there’s no baking, they are more filling and satisfying than sweets, and they’ll keep for a good few days (in theory, although the ones I make never seem to last much longer than about 24 hours!). Here’s the recipe:

Sugar Free Chocolate Truffles


200g stoned dates (chopped or whole, doesn’t matter)
1 dessert spoon cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g rolled oats
1.5 tbsp peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1 tbsp chocolate chips (optional)
1 dessert spoon water

A note about ingredients:

  • Cacao: I use cacao powder in my recipe rather than cocoa powder. The reason being cacao is a purer version of chocolate - there’s no added sugar and it hasn’t been highly processed. It’s basically chocolate in its pure form. It is more expensive than cocoa powder, and harder to find in the supermarket - but a little goes a long way as it has a more powerful chocolate punch. If you can’t find cacao you could use sugar free cocoa powder instead.
  • Vanilla Extract: The vanilla extract I use (Tesco Madagascan Vanilla Extract) does have sugar in it - the ingredients are listed as: Water, Ethanol, Sugar, Vanilla Extract. But as I’m only using a teaspoon I kind of figure that it won’t really break the sugar bank (if you see what I mean)!
  • Peanut Butter: The peanut butter I use is whole peanut butter - ie, it’s 100% peanuts and nothing else. I buy mine from Tesco and use either the Meridian or Whole Earth (whichever is cheaper at the time I buy it).  If you don’t want to use peanut butter you could probably substitute it with perhaps some ground almonds, although you might need to add more water and maybe a small dash of honey to the mix as the peanut butter acts as a kind of ‘glue’ to the mixture.
  • Chocolate Chips: Again, I have to admit that these do have sugar in them, but I'm only adding in a tablespoon of them so... - but you could substitute them with a sugar-free chocolate if you wanted to, or you could leave them out entirely if you prefer.

  1. Add all the ingredients, except the water, into a food processor and whizz it up until it’s crumbly. This will probably take 1-2 minutes. 
  2. Add in the water and blend for a few more seconds. 
  3. Transfer the crumbly mixture to a food bag and squish it up into one big ball. Then simply break off pieces, roll them into balls, and you’re done!
  4. The mixture should make about 15/16, depending on the size of your balls [insert own joke here]. The mixture will feel a little bit crumbly when you’re rolling the balls, but it does firm up - I put mine in the fridge for half an hour and they go firm with a nice non-fall-apart consistency!

I hope you enjoy them - if you have a go at making these I’d love you to come back and let me know what you think! And if you have any recipes or healthy sweet treat ideas, please leave a comment and share :)

Sarah x

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