Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Have an Organic Baby Shower – Best Organic New Born Baby Gifts

Why Not Throw an Organic Baby Shower?

Are you thinking of throwing a baby shower for a friend or family member who is expecting?  If so, you may be trying to think of a theme that will make this baby shower extra special and memorable for the mom-to-be.  As there can be nothing that is more precious than a new born baby, why not choose to make your baby shower an organic baby shower? Choosing to have an organic baby shower will have the double bonus of helping to protect the new arrival from the effects of exposure to nasty chemicals and it will also be helping to preserve the environment and promote sustainable farming practices and fairer deals for local farmers.  These days you will find that you can buy an organic equivalent of all your favourite new born baby gifts, so that you can choose from soft and cosy organic baby blankets, extra cute organic baby bedding, adorable organic cotton bodysuits and baby clothes, organic stuffed toys and even organic diapers and organic baby bath products.

What Are The Benefits of Organic Baby Products?

It is very important that every baby enjoys the best possible start in life, so by ensuring that many of their new born baby gifts are organic, you are helping them avoid exposure to certain strong chemicals and pollutants that can damage their skin, penetrate their lungs and possibly set them up for long term health problems.  Some of the most popular gifts for newborns are baby clothes and baby bedding. Nowadays, you can buy some really beautiful baby clothes and baby bed linen but there are huge benefits for baby if these are made from 100% organic cotton. Cotton that has been commercially grown has usually been heavily sprayed with chemical pesticides and fertilisers.  Indeed, it is estimated that with commercially grown cotton around 500 grams of chemical pesticides and fertilisers are used in order to produce just one cotton bed sheet. These harsh chemicals do become absorbed into the cotton fibres and can stick in the cotton even after it has been washed lots of times.  Very young babies do not have the strong immune systems that adults have and their lungs are also more delicate, so being exposed to the toxins in commercially grown cotton means that potentially the baby could develop breathing conditions such as asthma or suffer from a weakened immune system.  Babies spend as much as 70% of their day sleeping, so they also spend a lot more time wrapped in cotton bed linen and blankets than the average adult, so again it really makes sense for all new born baby bedding to be organic.

Baby Feet

Organic Baby Bedding and Organic Baby Clothes

There are some things that you need to remember if you are buying baby bedding as a baby shower gift.  All babies should be given a new mattress to sleep on, preferably an organic baby mattress, as it will be free of any dirt, germs or general grime that may have built up in a second hand mattress. So an organic baby mattress or organic cotton mattress pad would make a wonderful and thoughtful gift for a newborn.  It is also advised that babies do not sleep under duvets or with pillows until they are at least 12 months old, so hold back on the organic duvet cover sets and matching organic cotton pillowcases gifts until the baby has gone past their first birthday.  A soft, luxurious organic cotton receiving blanket makes a perfect baby shower gifts, and you can also buy personalized receiving blankets that have had the name of the baby or a short message embroidered on.  Organic cotton towelsfor infants are also great gifts, and a fluffy, organic towel with a hood will rally help to keep a newborn snug while they are being dried after bath time. With baby clothes you can really splash out on some adorable organic baby stuff.  There are organic sleep suits, organic infant snowsuits, cute organic baby bibs, organic cotton baby vests and even organic cotton baby socks in a wide range of designs and colours. You can have a green baby from head to toe, protecting the child and protecting the planet.

Organic Stuffed Toys and Organic Baby Products

Soft toys and teddy bears are also popular gifts for new born babies and are often brought as gifts to baby showers.  Luckily you can also now buy some great organic and natural soft toys and teddy bears that have been especially designed for newborns.  Some of the manufacturers of organic toys and organic baby products also put together some fantastic organic gift sets for newborns, which make great baby shower gifts.  If you like being creative and making your own gifts, you could buy an organic baby hamper or baby bag and choose your own organic baby things to put in it, topping it off with a big bow or even some balloons with a welcome to the new baby on them.  Preparing for a new baby can be very expensive these days, so most expectant moms would really welcome practical and useful new baby gifts at their baby shower.  These days you can buy organic diapers, organic baby lotion, organic baby shampoo, organic diaper bags and organic baby wipes, so you could put together a really practical and attractive organic gift basket that will help to get the new parents through those all important first few weeks by gifting them all the baby essentials.

Finding Organic Baby Shower Gifts Online

One of the very best places to buy organic new born baby gifts is online.  So if you have been invited to a baby shower in the near future, have a look at the great range of organic baby products that are available on Amazon today.  Whatever your budget, you will find that perfect organic baby shower gift, as you could choose to buy an organic rattle or an organic cotton cot sheet, or splash out on a complete organic layette if the new baby is being born to someone very close to you. Gifts for new born babies should be as gentle and pure as possible, so choose an organic baby shower gift as you know that it will be a gift that will be treasured, will be useful and will help to safeguard both the precious new infant and our beautiful world.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Choose Beatrix Potter Books, Toys and Home Accessories

Who Was Beatrix Potter?

Beatrix Potter is the English author of beautifully illustrated children’s books featuring animals and birds as the main characters. Probably her most famous character is the cute and cuddly Peter Rabbit, but she also created many other memorable characters such as Jemima Puddleduck, Jeremy Fisher, Tom Kitten and the Flopsy Bunnies. Beatrix Potter was born in 1866 into a wealthy Victorian family, and had an isolated childhood where she was taught at home by governesses. The family would take their holidays in Scotland or the Lake District in the north of England, and this is where the young Beatrix first started showing an interest in the natural world and she started keeping lots of small animals and painting the landscapes around her.  As she grew up Beatrix Potter longed to be able to lead an independent life and have her own career, but this was not regarded as a suitable aspiration for a young lady in the Victorian era.  Beatrix Potter had a great interest in fungi and gained a lot of knowledge due to her research and observations, but could not pursue higher education in mycology because she was a woman. Eventually because of her hard work and dedication she came to be regarded as a respected mycologist in England and she also painted many detailed watercolours of fungi.

The Tales of Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter’s literary career began in 1893 when she was 27, when she wrote ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ in the form of a picture story for a small boy who had been ill for some months called Noel Moore.  She reclaimed the letter in 1901 and after further developing the story, Beatrix Potter sent it off to six publishers under the title ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Mr McGregor’s Garden’. Much to her disappointment her book was rejected, because there were no colour illustrations. After amending the title, she privately published 250 copies of her book in time for Christmas, which sold so rapidly that she had to publish another 200 copies a fortnight later.  In 1902 her book was accepted by the publisher Frederick Warne & Co, as the colour illustrations were ready, and 28,000 copies were sold by the end of the year and The Tale of Peter Rabbit has never been out of print since that time. Peter Rabbit was followed by The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin in 1903 and then 21 other small format children’s tales all based on the adventures of charming animal characters dressed as humans. The success of The Tale of Peter Rabbit gave Beatrix Potter the financial independence that she craved, and in 1905 she secretly became engaged to her publisher Norman Warne. Her parents, however, were very much against this union because of what they regarded as his lowly profession, which caused a huge rift between Beatrix and her parents.  Unfortunately, Norman Warne died of pernicious anaemia shortly afterwards and Beatrix Potter went on to purchase Hill Top Farm in the Lake District in July of 1905. Beatrix began to spend a lot of time at the farm, as she loved the Lake District landscapes, and married a local solicitor called William Heelis who worked on some of her land purchases at the age of 47 in 1913. Beatrix Potter gave up working on her tales and illustrations around 1920 as her eyesight began to fail, and then concentrated on sheep farming and breeding in her later years. She died in December 1943 and left much of her property to the National Trust, with her manuscripts and original illustrations also passing to the National Trust on the death of her husband.

Beatrix Potter - Benjamin Bunny

Beatrix Potter Books

For a lot of us the enchanting animal tales of Beatrix Potter are a treasured memory of our childhood. I certainly had a collection of these beautifully illustrated small format children’s books on my book shelf that were very well thumbed and several had torn covers! Luckily all of Beatrix Potter’s books are still in print, so they can still be loved and enjoyed by the children of today. Beatrix Potter’s children’s books make great gifts, and if you are buying a special birthday or Christmas gift the hardcover ‘Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales’ or a presentation box of all her tales could be just what you are looking for.  Beatrix Potter’s books are available in most good bookshops, but one of the very best places to look for them is online.  Amazon has a great range of Beatrix Potter books, so why not go online and make your choice today? You can also collect each of these charming animal tales individually, so why not start off with ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ and then buy the books one by one for your children or grandchildren?

Beatrix Potter Toys

As the animal characters in Beatrix Potter’s books are all so cute, it is not perhaps surprising that you can also buy some adorable soft toys representing these characters.  There are plush Peter Rabbit toys, Jemima Puddleduck toys dressed in her signature blue bonnet and pink shawl, cuddly Mrs Rabbits and even Jeremy Fisher toys.  You can also buy other Beatrix Potter nursery toys such as bunny mural wall stickers, board games and puzzles. Beatrix Potter character stuffed toys make great new born baby gifts, so pick out your favourite Peter Rabbit plush toy to take to that baby shower today! If you are looking for a great christening present, why not choose a Wedgwood Peter Rabbit china set containing a mug, plate and bowl all decorated with cute Peter Rabbit illustrations and quotes from the story?

Beatrix Potter Home Accessories

Just because you have grown up, it does not mean that you have to give up your Beatrix Potter characters.  There are some great art print posters available to buy online of the original illustrations from the books. And if you love collecting figurines, then you can buy amazing Beatrix Potter china figurines of all your favourite animals, including Mrs Tittlemouse, Tom Kitten, and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. Or cute china individual letters with Beatrix Potter characters on them?  There are Peter Rabbit china photo frames, water globes and Beatrix Potter character cross-stitch kits, so you can find the perfect Beatrix Potter gift for all occasions.
So you really can bring the wonderful world of Beatrix Potter into your nursery or your home.  Just shop online at Amazon today and choose that perfect gift.

Benjamin Bunny Image Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Why Choose Organizer Handbags and Purse Insert Organizers

Do You Need an Organizer Handbag?

Do you look into the depths of your handbag only to find yourself confronted with a tangled mess of keys, wallet, used tissues, make up and old bus tickets? Have you ever had to literally empty out the contents of your handbag onto a counter in order to find something you need? Do you clean out your purse once a year and vow that from now on you will keep your bag tidy and only carry around with you only what you really need? Then you are not alone, and if you want to become super organised with your handbag then maybe you should think about buying yourself an organizer handbag or maybe a purse insert organizer? There are many situations in life when we need to immediately be able to find our keys or our credit cards, and an organizer handbag can really help you with this. An organizer handbag differs from an ordinary purse in that is contains a lot of different compartments and pockets in which you can organize all your personal items. In an organizer purse separate pockets for your mobile phone, credit cards, make up, wallet, car keys, drivers licence and other important documents.  One of the best places to look for a great organizer handbag is online and Amazon has a great range of organizer purses to choose from.

Organizer Handbags

Some people are put off from getting an organizer handbag because they think that they have no style and are purely utilitarian.  Well they could not be more wrong, as there is a huge selection of attractive, stylish organizer purses to choose from. If you need an organizer purse for work or for formal occasions, you need look no further than a leather organizer purse.  You can choose from elegant, classic black leather handbags, supple soft leather organizer purses in tan or beige leather, or even funky organizer handbags in pink or red leather.  What they all have in common is that they contain all of the pockets and compartments that you may need to store and organise your every day important items. Leather organizer purses also come in lots of different sizes and with varying strap lengths and are the ideal accessory for any occasion. If you need to carry a laptop around with you, you can also buy some excellent large leather organizer totes especially designed to fit a laptop in, which are perfect to take to meetings or if you travel a lot for work.

If you are looking for a more casual look, you can also choose from a great range of canvas or even backpack organizer bags online.  The benefit of these more casual organiser bags is that they can be a lot bigger, so if you need to carry a lot of stuff around with you, they are ideal. You can also get canvas organizer bags that have a big pocket which is perfect to slip a laptop into, and they come in wonderfully bright and vibrant colours such as orange, lime green, red and yellow. Backpack organizers are great for students or anyone who has to carry around a lot of books or paperwork, and have several separate compartments and some come with a removable organizer.

Purse Insert Organizers

If you already have an amazing range of designer handbags or an old but trusty purse that you don’t want to part with and you do not want to buy a new organizer purse, you may want to consider buying a purse insert organizer instead. Purse insert organizers slide into your own handbag and are equipped with various different pockets which you can use to store your car keys, wallet, credit cards, mobile phone, sunglasses, lipstick , drivers licence or anything else that you regularly carry with you and that you need to know exactly where it is in your bag.  One of the major benefits of a purse insert organizer is that if you like changing your handbags frequently and have several different purses that match with different outfits, you can organize all your personal items into your purse insert organiser and then just slip it into whichever purse you are planning to use that day. You can buy purse insert organizers in a wide variety of colours and patterns and they come in many different sizes to fit any handbag that you already own. Purse insert organizers are also very affordable, and you can buy them for under $10.  However, if you feel like splashing out a bit, then you can spend a fair bit more and get a very stylish, quality purse insert organizer.

So if you want to go from being completely disorganised into being the most organized lady in town, then why not start by buying an organizer handbag or purse insert organizer online today?  Don’t forget that having your handbag neatly organized is not just efficient and convenient; there are also times when it might be important for your security and personal safety.  Do you really want to be fumbling for your car keys in a dark car park or trying to find your purse and worrying that it has dropped out of your bag or been pick pocketed? So buy that organizer handbag today and gain the peace of mind of always knowing exactly where you have put things and that you have them with you.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

What to Look For When Shopping For Socks

How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Have?

What type of socks do you wear? Do you ever have a matching pair of socks in your drawer or are you the tidy kind who matches your socks up in pairs before you put them away?  Do you choose 100% cotton or synthetic fibres for your socks?  Do you like plain socks or fancy coloured novelty socks?  Is Father Christmas or Bart Simpson peeping out from your ankle region even as we speak? Chances are that you own lots of different pairs of socks and in this modern world it can be surprising how many kinds of socks that you need to have in your drawer for the different occasions and activities in your life.  Who would have thought that so many decisions need to be made before buying a simple pair of socks?

Ancient Socks

So how did all this sock  wearing thing start?  Who first started wearing socks?  Some type of hosiery has been worn by the human race since the times of our prehistoric ancestors.  Winters would have been incredibly harsh during the last Ice Age, so animal skins were wrapped around their feet and tied at the ankles to keep their feet warm and protect them from the trauma of walking and running on bare earth and rock. The Ancient Greeks took things one step further by making socks from matted animal hairs to keep their toes cosy.  The Ancient Romans followed suit by wrapping their feet in woven fabric or leather,  and the word sock actually derives from the Latin word ‘soccus’ which was a loose sock-like shoe worn by Roman comic actors that could easily be slipped off.

Medieval Socks

By the Dark Ages in Europe socks called ‘puttees’ were being used by religious folks to symbolise their purity. Things really kicked off for socks in mediaeval times, when the wearing of socks became a serious status symbol and sign of wealth among the nobility and most of these early socks were made of wool, silk or cotton.  By the 16th century these ‘must have’ socks were being ornamented with a design on the ankle or side of the sock, called a ‘clock’.  A knitting machine was invented in 1589 that greatly speeded up the process of producing socks, but there were many hand knitters of hosiery right up until the early 1800’s.  The next big development for socks was the introduction of synthetic nylon yarns in 1938 and this started the blending of two or more yarns in sock production which still goes on today.

Modern Socks

So why do we still wear socks today?  Well the main reason that we don our socks in the morning is to keep our feet warm.  Socks also prevent chafing from our shoes and boots, and can add some support for our feet during physical activities such as running.  Socks can also absorb perspiration and help to prevent blisters from forming.  Socks now come in a variety of different materials such as cotton, silk, wool, polyester, spandex, acrylic, and, if you are feeling particularly posh, cashmere! If you are buying cotton socks, look for ones that are 100% organic cotton if you can, as the cotton will have been grown without any dangerous pesticides or herbicides that can harm people and the environment, and has been grown in a sustainable manner that helps the farmers and communities  who grow the cotton. Modern hosiery comes in various lengths and styles from the foot-covering trainer socks, through ankle socks to knee high socks.  What length and style of sock you wear will be determined by your outfit and what you are going to do, so let’s have a look at some of the different types of sock that you can shop for today.

Men's Socks

The staple of men’s socks is the dress sock.  Dress socks are usually ankle length or calf length and can be either a plain colour such as black, grey or navy or patterned in some way.  Originally intended for formal wear with evening dress, dress socks for men are now worn with business suits and even under casual wear like jeans.  As women increasingly wear trousers, they too buy ankle socks to wear and even the dreaded ‘pop’ socks, which are those socks made from fine nylon like tights or stocking that are so unattractive if a skirt or trousers ride up!

Novelty Socks

Recent times have seen the advent of the novelty sock.  These are particularly popular to buy as Christmas or Birthday gifts and can be rainbow striped, with toes, with cartoon characters, with bells, bobbles and anything else that you can think of appliquéd on to them.  Bed socks are also a popular gift purchase and come in many cosy materials and gorgeous colours.  If you are feeling particularly generous buy some cashmere bed socks to really keep your feet warm in luxury!

Different Socks For Different Activities

When it comes to buying socks for outdoor activities, the matter of which socks you choose becomes a lot more serious.  The sock must be appropriate for what you are doing or your performance and comfort can be severely impaired.  For example, if you are selecting running socks you will need socks that will provide stability as you are running as well as wicking any moisture away to keep your feet feeling dry and comfortable.  It is not advisable to wear 100% cotton socks while you are running as these just absorb the moisture and this can cause blisters.  This is particularly important for long-distance runners, and good running socks are made from two lightweight moisture wicking fabrics that also absorb any friction between the layers to prevent blistering.  The feet of the runner will stay dry as the inner layer takes away any dampness from the foot into the outer layer where it can evaporate.  The weight of the sock fabric is also important as a sprint runner will need lighter-weight socks than a cross-country runner who will need a sock that is more durable and heavyweight.

There are a myriad of different activities and sports that you need to buy special socks for, and you can buy walking socks, skiing socks, climbing socks, football sock, rugby socks and hockey socks.  The list of different socks is endless.  There are also socks that you can purchase for health reasons.  Many people buy special supports socks to wear when they are on a long distance flight as they can help to prevent the formation of blood clots in the veins of your legs.  You can also now buy diabetic socks.  People who suffer from diabetes are prone to developing leg ulcers and other foot infections.  Diabetic socks are specially made without seams or wrinkle-prone material to help reduce pressure on the feet and blistering.  They also have a loose, non-binding top so that they do not constrict the blood-flow in the leg and are made to control moisture.

So there are many socks out there to choose from.  When you are shopping think about when you are going to wear your socks and what sports you may be playing in them.  Keep those feet warm, dry and comfortable, as you need them to take you a long way in life!

Image Zara J Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Why Do We Wear Gloves? – Choose The Best Gloves For You

Why Do We Wear Gloves?

How much thought do you give to your gloves?  How long do you manage to hang onto a pair of gloves?  Do you have lots of odd gloves at home, where you have lost the other one somewhere?  Do you remember the days when you were a child when you had a pair of mittens attached to a long piece of elastic that your mother would thread through the arms of your coat? Gloves are a garment designed to cover our hands and nowadays we mainly wear gloves to keep our hands warm during cold weather or to protect them when we are doing heavy work or are playing sport.  However, there have been times in history when gloves were far more important as a fashion item and when it would have been a grave social solecism to go out in public without having the correct pair of gloves on.

Types of Gloves

So what are gloves? The name comes from the Old English word ‘glof’ and they are basically swathes of fabric or fur  designed to protect your hands from the elements and keep them warm with tubes of the same material to cover the fingers and thumb.  Gloves that do not have separate finger are known as mittens, and mittens actually keep your hands warmer than gloves because your fingers keep each other warm when they are bunched together.  However, wearing mittens is useless if you are working or trying to do things outdoors as you cannot get a good grip or be very dextrous, so they tend to be worn mainly by small children.  You can get fingerless gloves nowadays, which give you an even greater level of dexterity, but can leave you with very cold fingers!  With typical human ingenuity, there is now a hybrid available of the mitten and fingerless glove that is basically a pair of fingerless gloves with the added fabric to cover the whole hand like a mitten that can be folded back off the fingers and secured with a button or Velcro.  They are called ‘convertible mittens’ or ‘glittens’.

Gloves From Kathmandu

History of Gloves

The history of gloves goes back to prehistoric times when our ancestors would make a primitive type of mitten from animal skins.  Gloves became very important in mediaeval England, when the wearing of elaborate gauntlets was a status symbol.  If you wished to question a man’s integrity and challenge him to a duel, it was customary to fling your gauntlet at his feet.  If your adversary picked up the gauntlet it indicated that he had accepted your challenge.  This was enshrined in English law and was a right that any free man could claim.  We still use the phrases ‘throwing down the gauntlet’ or ‘taking up the gauntlet’ today in reference to giving out or taking up a challenge or a dare.  In suits of armour, metal gauntlets were an important form of protection, and protected a knight’s hands from being injured and leather gauntlets were used when hunting with birds of prey.

Evening Gloves For Formal Wear

By the 17th century gloves were becoming more elaborate and embellished and were jewelled, embroidered, perfumed and fur lined.  By the 18th and 19th centuries they had developed so that there were styles for day wear and styles for formal evening wear.  Ladies would wear long evening gloves with their ball gowns and there was a whole etiquette that revolved around the way that they were worn.  Long gloves would be put on before the lady left the house or came down to the dining room, and were generally white or shades of beige, ivory or taupe.  They would be kept on in receiving lines and during receptions, but removed for dinner and then replaced when dinner was over.  Generally speaking the length of the glove would be determined by the length of the sleeve worn, so a short sleeve would mean a longer glove.  Just as there was a language of flirtation developed with fans, there were also signals developed for gloves.  For example, dropping both of them meant ‘I love you’.

Modern Gloves

In these modern times, they are made from lots of different fabrics and styles.  Many people still choose to get fine leather or suede gloves, which can come in many different colours and be lined with silk or fur.  Woollen gloves are also still very popular and come in plain colours such as black, red and grey or knitted in patterns such as Fair Isle or in colourful stripes.  With the advent of synthetic materials you can now also buy gloves that are waterproof and breathable and use a variety of advanced technologies to keep the hands warm and dry.

Sports Gloves

There are now also a wide range of gloves that have been developed for protecting the hands while playing sports and taking part in physical activities.  There are specialist ski gloves that have been designed especially to keep the hands warm and dry in snowy, cold conditions whilst still enabling the skier to grip their ski poles efficiently.  You a can even get heated ski gloves that run on batteries that heat them up at a touch of a button.  Extra warmth can also be obtained from wearing silk liner gloves under the outer ones. There are special gloves for use when cycling, riding, golfing, goalkeeping, climbing and a host of other sports, including boxing gloves.  The bones of the fingers and hand are very fragile, so boxing gloves are especially padded to protect the boxer as he is punching as well to prevent injury to the boxer being punched.

Gardening Gloves

Activities such as gardening also require sturdy gardening gloves made of leather or strong nylon.  Beekeepers wear special long gloves that cover the lower parts of their arms over their protective beekeeping suits.  Beekeeping gloves have to retain an excellent sense of feel for the beekeeper, as they have to be able to handle their bees gently and be able to remove the honey from the hive with care.  Many healthcare workers, including doctors and dentists, now wear special protective latex gloves and you can now these in packs for use in the home.  Of course, women everywhere (and even some men!) are familiar with a sturdy pair of rubber gloves for washing up and dirty jobs around the house!
So shopping for gloves may not be as straightforward as you once believed!  You have to decide when you are going to wear them, what activities you will be undertaking while wearing your gloves, and even whether you want a natural fabric or a synthetic fabric.  Personally, I would like to be shopping for a luxurious, cosy pair of cashmere gloves or butter-soft leather ones, but probably will be choosing more practical woollen gloves!

Image Lavenderstreak Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Pick a Perfect Party Bag - Great Party Bags and Goodie Bags Online

Do You Love Party Bags?

Do you love party bags? Are you one of those people who just loves to organize parties; choose a party theme, buy the party bags, and choose what to put in them? Or are you one of those Moms who just hates party bags, and shudders every time your kid brings home another brightly coloured goodie bag that is full of plastic toys that get lost under the furniture and candy full of E numbers? Well if you have kids, it’s likely that party bags are one of the facts of your life and that you will have to  spend some of your precious time choosing party bags and party bag fillers for your little one’s party. The good news is that there is a great selection of party bags and party bag fillers to choose from, and whatever the theme of the party you will easily be able to get party bags that match it.  One of the very best places to buy your party bags is online, and you can find great packs of party bags in loads of different designs, sizes and colours. You can also find fun party fillers in packs, so that you do not have to buy the items separately and you can make great savings.  So if you are planning a party and need to buy party bags and party bag fillers, have a look on Amazon today and see what an amazing choice they have.  So get in touch with your fun creative side and check out all of the great goodie bags online today. And if you really cannot face buying party bags and then having to pick out all of the different party bag fillers, you can happily cheat a bit and get some really great filled party bags!

Kids Party Bags

Kids just love going to a party and coming home with a goodie bag brimming full of candy, trinkets and small toys. Have you ever been to a kid’s birthday party and seen a small child getting upset because they think that there is not a party bag left for them and that they would be leaving empty handed without any party loot? Well you won’t want that to happen, so party bags need careful planning.  You need to think of how many children will be coming to the party, whether there are going to be a mixture of boys and girls, and what theme you are going to have for the party.  Always make sure that you have a couple of extra party bags filled and ready, as you never know exactly how many kids will arrive. If you are throwing a party principally for little girls, you can really go to town with the pink, glitter, fairies and flowers.  If they have a favourite character from a cartoon or TV show, it is more than likely that you can find party loot bags with these characters on them and some matching party fillers.  Hello Kitty, Barbie and Disney Princesses are all really popular with little girls, and there are really cute party supplies with these characters on them.  Blue is for boys, and there are also great Toy Story, Mickey Mouse, space ship and jungle animal party bags that are great for boy’s parties.

Kids Party Bag Fillers

But what can you put in party bags for kids that they will really like?  Probably one of the most important things to do before you start your shopping online is to set your budget, as it is all too easy to get carried away with all the great party favors that see and end up spending way too much. But, as we have already said, you can either purchase items separately or buy them in a pack, which is much more convenient and tends to work out cheaper. Some great ideas for party bag fillers are things like packs of stampers, mini bouncing balls, jelly bracelets, novelty pens, toy cars or balloons. And of course there is candy and chocolate. You can buy huge packs of assorted candy online, which will both work out to be very cost effective and ensure that there is enough sweets and chocolate to go in every goody bag – even if you didn’t manage to stop yourself eating some!

Adult Party Bags

It’s not only kids who enjoy taking loot home from parties! Adult really enjoy party bags and party favors too.  Adult party bags can be really elegant and add style to your function, and you can really be creative with the colour schemes and designs that you put together.  So will you choose black, silver, pink, blue or green as your main colour or maybe stripes, spots, floral designs, glitter or even feathers?  You can also choose from a wide range of materials for you party bags. If you are giving out wedding party favors, for instance, you can buy some really pretty little organza bags with drawstring fastenings to put the sugared almonds or little trinkets in. Or you can buy satin finish party bags, animal print, shiny brightly coloured, whimsical patterns or clear treat bags. You can also have great fun choosing what you are going to put inside your party bags.  You could maybe choose just one item, like a small box of elegant Belgian truffles, or a piece of jewelry like a pendant, bangle or cufflinks for the men.  Or maybe you could theme your party and put together a few items to create something like a spa set of toiletries or even a spa robe and slippers.  Of course, adults do not have to behave like grownups and you could just fill your goody bags with crazy stuff like party poppers, novelty glasses, balloons and practical jokes!

So whether you are a party goddess who really loves shopping for parties and creating the perfect party bags or whether you would rather just enjoy the convenience of grabbing some already filled goodie bags, you are bound to find the very best party bags online and really enjoy your celebration.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

All About Chocolate and Gourmet Chocolate Gifts

What is Chocolate?

Are you a chocolate lover?  I have come across very few people in my life who do not like chocolate (unnatural in my opinion!) and most of us associate this sweet treat with love, comfort,  and special celebrations. So what is this chocolate stuff that most of us adore and probably eat far too much of?  Both chocolate and cocoa powder is produced from the dried seeds that come from inside the pods found on the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. In their natural state the seeds of the cacao tree have a very harsh taste and they need to be fermented in order to bring out the rich flavour. These days a large proportion of the world’s cocoa bean crop is produced in West Africa, and after they have been fermented the seeds are dried, cleaned and then roasted. After this the seeds then have their shells removed to extract the cacao nibs. These cacao nibs are then crushed to create cocoa mass which is pure chocolate in an unrefined state. This coca mass is called chocolate liquor and it usually goes on to be liquefied. Some extra ingredients may be added to the liquefied chocolate liquor and then it is moulded into the desired shape.  If it is not moulded, then the chocolate liquor can also be converted into either cocoa butter or cocoa solids.

Types of Chocolate

There are several different types of chocolate on the market today, and each type of them has its own devoted fans. The most basic type is probably the unsweetened cooking chocolate, which is also known as bitter chocolate. Baking or cooking chocolate consists mainly of cocoa solids and cocoa butter in differing proportions. Dark chocolate is the most elegant and classiest of the chocolate types and is definitely the choice for grownups. Dark chocolate is also known as sweet chocolate and is made from cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other vegetable fat and sugar. In Europe the regulations are that it has to contain at least 35% cocoa solids and in the US a 15% concentration of the chocolate liquor. The most popular variety and the one that most branded chocolate bars are made from is milk chocolate, which is made from cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other vegetable fat and sugar with the addition of milk powder or condensed milk.  My personal favourite, white chocolate, contains the cocoa butter, sugar and milk, but not the cocoa solids. Top quality gourmet chocolate is characterised by having a high cocoa content and be made with real cocoa butter, and not a cheap substitute like vegetable oil. A premium dark chocolate should contain at least 60% cocoa solids and an excellent milk chocolate should contain at least 30% cocoa solids or more.

Chocolate as a Worldwide Business

Chocolate is now a steadily growing worldwide business with several huge confectionery manufacturers dominating the chocolate market. In the US Hershey is a huge player in the chocolate market and makes the iconic Hershey Bar, Hershey’s Kisses and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Mars is another vast confectionery manufacturer, with brands like Mars Bar, Milky Way and Snickers.  In the UK, the most famous chocolate manufacturers first started production in Victorian times, with companies like Cadbury, Rowntree and Terry’s of York becoming household names.  However, unfortunately, most of these traditional confectionery manufacturers have now been bought out by international conglomerates, with Nestlé swallowing up Rowntree in 1988, and Kraft controversially acquiring Cadbury in 2010. The Swiss giant Nestlé also acquired Jacobs Suchard and this huge company also produces its own branded chocolate bars. Lindt is also another big Swiss chocolate manufacturer and is perhaps best known for producing its cute Lindt kittens, bunnies, puppies and chicks. However, if you enjoy eating luxury gourmet chocolate, you are probably going to want to sample some of the delicacies produced by the smaller and more exclusive chocolate manufacturers.  You can certainly buy some very expensive goodies, and chocolatiers such as Godiva, Noka Chocolate, Dolfin, Charbonnel et Walker, and Gudrun produce mouth-watering, luxury chocolates.. Both Switzerland and Belgium are rightly famous for their gourmet chocolates, and I have to say that I have never seen so much chocolate in my life as when I visited Brussels, where there so many shops piled high with bars, boxes and gift baskets.

Why Does Chocolate Make Us Feel So Good?

Chocolate is a treat that a lot of us turn to when we are feeling down, but why does eating it make us feel better? Well the cocoa solids in the confectionery contain alkaloids such as theobromine and phenethylamine which have physiological effects on the body and it also contains the mood elevator serotonin.  There has also been research done that shows that eating a moderate amount, such as a couple of squares, daily can help to lower blood pressure and dark chocolate is also a rich source of epicatechin and gallic acid which are thought to help protect the heart.  However, chocolate is not safe for our canine friends to munch on as a treat, as the theobromine that it contains is toxic for dogs and can kill them.

History of Chocolate

Chocolate has been around since ancient times, with the earliest documented consumption being around 1100 BC in the Maya and Aztec civilisations of Central America. They called the cocoa beans ‘food of the gods’ and the Mayans made the roasted cocoa beans into a spicy drink called ‘chocolatl’ which they drank at religious ceremonies and special celebrations.  The Spanish Conquistadors learned the secret of chocolate from the Aztecs when they swept through Central America and introduced the delicious sweet to the royal courts of Europe in the 16th century. Chocolate was a very expensive commodity back then and was a luxury that could only be enjoyed by the very rich, who used to drink it as a hot beverage. We had to wait until the 19th century before we could eat solid chocolate, with a technique for making it for eating being invented in 1847 by the company Joseph Fry & Son, who found a method of mixing some of the cocoa butter back into the dutched chocolate, adding sugar, and creating a paste that could then be moulded.
Chocolate as a Gift and Chocolate Gift Baskets

Giving chocolate as a gift is strongly associated with certain holidays and celebrations. It is a very popular gift for your loved one on St Valentine’s Day as chocolate is considered to be an aphrodisiac, with big red velvet heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and moulded chocolate hearts being some of the favourite offerings to show your love.  Easter is another big holiday and religious festival that is celebrated by giving gifts of chocolate.  The traditional Easter eggs are moulded from chocolate, wrapped in bright, shiny foil and packaged in colourful boxes.  Many of these Easter eggs also have extra chocolates or sweets placed inside of them, and if you want to really splash your cash you can find large personalized Easter eggs in luxury packaging, complete, of course, with delicious gourmet chocolates, and with your name or an Easter greeting iced on the surface of the egg.  At Easter time, you can also generally find a great range of moulded chocolate gifts like Easter bunnies, Easter chicks and other cute chocolate animals. Christmas is also a holiday that is now very much associated with chocolate, with chocolate decorations being hung on the Christmas tree, chocolate gold coins being placed in children’s Christmas stockings, and gifts being given of Christmas selection boxes,  boxes of chocolates or gourmet chocolate gift baskets. In fact gourmet chocolate gift baskets are great gifts to send your friends and loved ones throughout the year, either as birthday gifts, get well soon gifts, thank you gifts – in fact chocolate is a wonderful gift for any occasion!

Chocolate Gifts Online

There is chocolate all around us in the supermarkets, malls and fine chocolate shops, but one of the very best places to find a perfect chocolate gift basket or box of gourmet chocolates is online.  Amazon has a huge selection to choose from, ranging from chocolate bars, boxes of chocolates, chocolate gift baskets and even chocolate gift towers to suit all budgets. So whether you need to find the perfect love offering for Valentine’s Day or a thank you present for your best friend, have a look online today and buy that perfect gift. Or maybe even a treat for yourself?

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