Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Choose The Best Crystal Decanters and Glass Decanters

What is a Decanter?

Do you enjoy having people over to dinner and serving them a great bottle of red wine or port? Or keeping some of your favourite scotch whiskey or cognac on the sideboard or wet bar in case friends decide to pop over for a drink or you fancy a snifter after dinner? If so, then you should definitely look at buying a great wine decanter or a whiskey decanter.  You will find that there is a huge selection of decanters to choose from, ranging from very expensive cut lead crystal decanters to contemporary glass decanters that are very affordable. Decanters vary immensely in shape and design, and are usually big enough to contain at least one standard sized bottle of wine. So what actually is a decanter and when would you use one? In basic terms, a decanter is a receptacle for wine or spirits that are then used to serve them. It has to be said that having a beautiful lead crystal decanter on your dinner table or sideboard is far more visually appealing than having to look at the average wine bottle, so there is a strong aesthetic reason for decanting wine, as well as the more practical considerations.

Why Decant Wine?

Decanting wine is a subject that causes wide discussions and varied opinions among the top wine experts. The main reasons why red wine and port is decanted are to remove any sediment that may have formed in a bottle of red wine that would not be too pleasant to drink, and also to aerate the wine or allow it to ‘breathe’. The opinions on which red wines are improved by being decanted and how long before serving you should decant wine differ widely, as decanting too early can damage a fine red wine and decanting  too late does not allow the wine the chance to fully develop its richest taste and aromas. It is most commonly believed that robust young reds such as Barolos, Bordeaux, Syrahs and Cabernet Sauvignons that benefit the most from being decanted, but more delicate wines such as most of the white wines and red wines like Pinot Noir or Chianti could be damaged from decanting.

The reason why wine is allowed to ‘breathe’ is that by exposing it to the air causes oxidation and evaporation, which is thought to help to release to full aroma of the wine and soften tannins present in the wine, making it feel smoother to drink. However, too much oxidation will just make the wine taste stale and flat, and some wine experts argue that the small amount of time that a wine is generally decanted for does little to soften the tannins present in the wine. The best time for tannins to soften is when the red wine is actually being made or aged in wooden barrels, and one of the reason some wines are aged in wood barrels is that air can seep through the wood into the wine creating a chemical reaction to polymerise the tannins giving the wine a much smoother taste in the mouth. So decanting wines may not alter the tannins present, but it can help to dissipate other undesirable compounds and intensify the fruit characteristics.

History of Decanters

The history of wine and spirits is a long one and wine has been drunk since ancient times. In antiquity wine was stored in large clay pots and clay pots that once have been excavated from Ancient Egyptian tombs that once contained wine that was destined to be drunk at royal banquets. However, it was the mighty Romans who first extensively used glass vessels, and wine would be poured from the large amphora where it had been stored into these Roman glass decanters for use at the table. After the fall of the Roman Empire, production of glass fell away, so during the Dark Ages and early medieval periods wine decanters were generally made from metals such as gold, silver and bronze or from clay pottery.  It was the Venetians who reintroduced glass-making to Europe during the Renaissance and they designed elegant glass decanters with a wide body and a long, slender neck that allowed for a larger surface area of wine to react with the air.  In the 1670’s a man called George Ravenscroft created a new way of making glass that utilised lead oxide. This new lead crystal that was produced was stronger, heavier and more lustrous than earlier glass, and allowed further expansion of the crystal making industry. Another development for decanters came in the 1730’s when British glassmakers invented the decanter stopper that limited too much exposure to the air.

Wine Decanter

Wine Decanting Tips

So if you have bought yourself a sparkling new crystal decanter, what do you need to think of when you are decanting wine?  If you are having friends around or holding a dinner party, you will need to think about decanting your bottle of red wine between twenty and forty minutes before you intend serving it.  Make sure that there is a good light source when you decant the wine, so that you can see that you only pour clean wine into the decanter and leave all of the sediment in the bottom of the bottle.  How much you spend on a wine decanter is a matter of budget and personal taste, but consider before you buy whether or not you want to be able to wash it in the dishwasher or by hand, if you want to match your decanter with the rest of your crystal and tableware, and whether you prefer old-fashioned vintage decanters or sleeker, more modern designs.

Whiskey Decanters

Some spirits such as scotch whiskey, cognac and brandy are also stored in decanters with stoppers and you can even buy whiskies bottled in fancy decanters with stoppers. If you are looking to buy a whiskey decanter, you will find that they are usually square shaped glass or crystal flasks designed to hold the decanted spirit and then used to serve. Square bottomed decanters were popularly preferred for whiskies as they can contain the greatest volume of liquid in the smallest space.  Square spirit decanters are often fitted with faceted ball stoppers, and come in many different designs and patterns of lead crystal.

Choosing Crystal or Glass Decanters Online

You can buy crystal and glass decanters in top stores, but one of the best places to look for a great crystal decanter is online.  Amazon has a huge selection for you to browse through today, and you can choose from decanters in all sizes and shapes.  If you fancy a really traditional decanter why not consider a ships or captains decanter?  These crystal decanters have very heavy, wide bases that were designed to stop them from sliding around or tipping over when the ship entered rough waters. If you like modern, clean glassware, there are some really beautiful glass decanters that are clean and contemporary looking and will really add some modern elegance to your dining room.  Amazon also offers crystal and glass decanters from the top crystal manufacturers such as Waterford, Riedel, and Ravenscroft, so if you are looking for a very special addition to your home, you know where to look.  You can also buy decanter sets that include matching decanters or matching glasses, and may come with accessories such as a tray or a wooden box to store your decanters in.  Crystal decanters also make wonderful wedding gifts or get a decanter engraved for that special wedding anniversary or retirement present?

Image Tomas ER Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Why Are Disney Princess Baby Dolls and Disney Princess Toddler Dolls So Popular?

The Disney Princess Phenomenon

As all Moms who have little girls know, the world of Disney Princess has become a worldwide phenomenon and these days practically every little girl in the world eats, breathes and sleeps Disney Princess. Little girls watch the Disney films and dream of dressing up as their favourite Disney Princess, wearing the tiaras, slippers and jewels, enjoying the adventures and meeting a handsome prince.  They want to have Disney Princess themed bedrooms, school equipment, lunch boxes and clothes. So what is Disney Princess? Disney Princess is a Walt Disney franchise based on the animated princess characters who have starred in famous Disney films.  The franchise was set up in 2000 and the Disney Princess toys and merchandise rapidly became very popular and now enjoy sales of over $3 billion a year. This distinguished group of celebrated princesses includes Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Aurora, Pocahontas, Tiana, Jasmine, Ariel, Rapunzel and Mulan. So which of the Disney Princesses is the favourite of your little girl?  There is now a bewildering range of Disney Princess merchandise on the market that includes Disney Princess costumes, toys, dolls, games, clothes, jewelry and accessories, so you can collect everything relating to your favourite Disney Princess.  One of the most popular Disney Princess toys to collect is the dolls, and there is an amazing selection of Disney Princess dolls to choose from.  But if you are looking for that perfect Disney Princess doll as a gift, then why not go and have a look at the cute and cuddly Disney Princess Baby Dolls and the Disney Princess Toddler Dolls?

Disney Princess Baby Dolls

The Disney Princess animated adventures on film usually show your favourite princess characters as young adults who are learning to make their way in the world and finding love.  Most of the Disney Princess dolls on the market today are based on this exciting phase of their lives and these dolls come dressed in gorgeous gowns and jewels.  However, have you ever wondered what your favourite Disney Princess was like as a baby? If your little girl collects Disney Princess dolls then she will be delighted to find that she can have a baby Disney Princess doll that she can rock, care for and cherish. The Disney Princess baby dolls have soft bodies that are just made for cuddling with plastic arms and legs.  Your favourite baby princess doll comes dressed in a really cute costume in her signature colour and of course has her very own tiara that straps around her head with an elastic strap. Because some of the small parts of the doll can pose a choking hazard, these baby dolls are not suitable for children under three years old and on many of the dolls the onesies that they are wearing cannot be taken off.  So how exciting that your little girl can cuddle her very own favourite Disney Princess baby or maybe collect them all?  Disney Princess baby dolls make great gifts for Christmas or birthdays, so if you are looking for a gift for a little girl in the near future, then find out which is her very own special Disney Princess and delight her by adding to her collection of dolls.

Disney Princess Toddler Dolls

Of course all babies grow up, so luckily you can also buy Disney Princess Toddler dolls so that your little girl can enjoy the next phase of her Disney Princess’s life.  Disney Princess Toddler dolls show your favourite Disney princess as they were when they were starting to walk, learning to talk and having a lot of fun. The Disney Princess toddler dolls are between 14” and 16” tall, have fully poseable bodies, come dressed in their signature colour costumes and of course many of them are wearing the tiara that shows the world that they are a princess! As these toddler dolls are a little older than the baby dolls, they also have gorgeous rooted hair. Again they have some small parts that could be a choking hazard, so are not suitable for children under three years of age.

Choosing Disney Princess Dolls Online

There are Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Aurora, Pocahontas, Tiana, Jasmine, Ariel, Rapunzel and Mulan baby dolls and toddler dolls, so that is a pretty big collection of Disney Princess dolls if your little girl decides that she wants to collect them all!  You can find Disney Princess Baby dolls and Disney Princess Toddler dolls in all the major stores but one of the very best places to find your Disney Princess infant doll to love and cherish is online. Amazon has a great selection of Disney Princess dolls to choose from, so go online today to add to your collection of Disney dolls.  Shopping online is one of the simplest ways to secure the Disney Princess baby or toddler doll that your little girl has set her heart on, so go and have a look and lose yourself in the enchanting world of Disney Princess.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Best Baby Blankets – Blankies, Security Blankets and Receiving Blankets

Baby’s First Blanket - Receiving Blankets

Are you looking to buy a baby blanket for your own baby or as a gift for a family member or friend who is expecting? If you are expecting a baby, you will know how many things that you need to buy for your new arrival, and good quality baby blankets are some of the most important things that you can invest in. The first ever blanket that a baby is swaddled in is known as a receiving blanket. As a baby grows in the womb during pregnancy, it is cocooned in a warm, dark secure little world. When they are born they are suddenly thrust out into a much wider world of noise, bright lights and confusion, so hospitals snuggle the newborn infant in a cosy receiving blanket to make them feel more safe and secure.  Parents can also use receiving blankets when they take their baby home to swaddle the baby to make it feel warm and secure, and it can also be draped over a parent’s shoulder when the infant is being burped or spread on the floor to change the baby. Your baby will also sleep more peacefully if they are cosily snuggled in their familiar receiving blanket. Receiving blankets make great gifts for new parents, and you can even order personalized receiving blankets that have the baby’s name or a short message embroidered on them. So go online today and choose a warm, cuddly receiving blanket to take to the baby shower.

Security Blankets, Blankies and Comfort Blankets

As your baby grows they will have baby blankets for their cribs, buggies and car seats, and over time they may become particularly attached to their favourite blanket and begin to use it as a security blanket. These security blankets are also known as blankies or comfort blankets, and there is some controversy among experts and parents as to whether it is a good thing or not for your infant or toddler to have a security blanket. In the first few months of its life it is believed by experts that an infant is not aware that it is a separate person from their mother, and so is very dependent on being physically very close to her, being cuddled and soothed, and having all of its needs met.  Gradually the baby begins to understand that it is a separate being from its mother, and so when mother leaves the infant, it will become upset and anxious that mother may not return. Having a comfort blanket, or blankie, helps to comfort your baby when you cannot be physically close to them, as the baby will associate the blanket with the same feeling of comfort and security that they receive when they are close to you. Teething is often a difficult time for babies, as they are in discomfort, may develop a high temperature and have trouble in settling for the night and sleeping through. Luckily, you can now buy blankies that have multiple textured corners for soothing sore gums and also give your child the soothing comfort of being wrapped up in their favourite comfort blanket.  You can also buy really cute blanket friends, which are blankies with a soft toy animal’s head attached, such as cuddly rabbits and adorable sheep. When a child grows into a toddler they seem to need their comfort blanket the most when they are going to sleep, visiting a new place, and being exposed to new experiences. The big question is how long should a toddler be allowed to depend on their blankie and at what age should their security blanket be taken away?

Choosing a Baby Blanket

When choosing a baby blanket, there are certain things that you will need to check for. What the baby blanket is made from is very important. You want to buy a baby blanket from the very best quality fabric that you can afford.  A baby’s skin is very sensitive, so fabric that is rough may chafe or rub their skin and also look to see that there are no rough edges or uneven hems that may also rub. You want the material of your baby blanket to feel soft, cosy and snugly as these blankets will help to soothe your infant and make them feel comfortable and secure. An infant’s blankie is very important to them and they become very attached, so if you buy a poor quality baby blanket that may get destroyed by frequent washing or daily wear and tear, then your toddler may become inconsolable. The very best fabric for receiving blankets and blankies is organic. Organic baby blankets are great for a baby’s sensitive skin, because they have been produced without using any nasty chemical fertilisers to grow the cotton or harsh chemicals to treat the fabric.  Organic cotton is great for soft, cosy baby blankets and if you are looking to spend a little more, why not splash out on a luxurious cashmere baby blanket? It is also important that you check the size of your baby blanket when you buy it.  Some of the cheaper baby blankets, especially if they are in multi-packs, might not be as big as you want to them to be, and you need your baby blanket to be able to swaddle your baby snugly and cover it warmly at night. A baby blanket needs to be the exact size to fit your baby’s crib, as if it is too large or bulky it may have trouble turning over and moving around, and could even impede their breathing.

Finding a Baby Blanket Online

There are many great baby blankets in the baby stores and department stores, but to get the biggest choice you need to have a good look online.  Amazon has a wonderful selection of baby blankets to browse through including some of the most popular brands such as Little Giraffe, Munchkin, and Under the Nile. If you are going to a baby shower then baby blankets make great gifts, or you can buy one as part of a baby layette if you are purchasing a bigger gift. Remember though, that pink is for girls and blue is for boys, and if you do not yet know the sex of the baby opt for a baby blankest in pale lemon, neutrals or softest green.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Go Back In Time With Retro Candy and Retro Candy Gift Baskets

What Is Retro Candy?

I have to admit that when it comes to sweets and candy that I am still a total child.  I would still rather have a bag full of lollipops, white chocolate mice, fizzy jelly snakes, fruit salad chews and sherbet than a fancy, expensive box of chocolates.  Some of my best memories of childhood are of clutching a few pence in my little, sticky hand in the local corner shop and pointing at penny sweets for the lady to pop into a white paper bag.  Or of enjoying a very special treat of choosing a quarter of candy from one of the hundreds of jars high up on the shelves in the sweet shop.  That is why I am especially happy that retro candy is becoming popular once again, and I can once more revel in sherbet lemons, kola cubes, space dust, Parma violets, jelly beans and love hearts. And I can also see whether or not I have lost the knack of blowing the biggest bubble with my bubble gum!  One of the best places to buy retro candy and old fashioned sweets is online, so why not indulge in some nostalgia this Halloween and Christmas by buying retro candy instead of modern candy and chocolate brands? There are also some great retro candy gift baskets and gift boxes available, that make great gifts for family and friends.  So if you want the kids to get to know and really enjoy the candy that you spent your precious pocket money on, have a browse through Amazon’s fantastic range of retro candy today.

Retro Candy By the Decade

It doesn’t matter which decade that you grew up in, you can now get the retro candy brands that were introduced onto the market during your era. One enduring candy favourite goes back to the very end of the 19th century when Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts were introduced, with Bertie Bassett the famous candy man made up of different pieces of liquorice coming on to the scene in 1929. From the 1930s through to the end of the 20th century, each decade had it its own popular sweets and candy that became the must have candy brand.  The 1930s were the depression years in both the US and the UK, so money was tight and candy would have been a real treat. However, the 1930’s did give us the Snickers Bar, which remains a firm favourite today and Tootsie Roll Pops.  The famous British sweet manufacturer Swizzels Matlow was also formed in the 1930s and has given us some of the most iconic British retro candy brands, including Love Hearts in 1933, Parma Violets, Double Dip and Rainbow Drops.  The 1940s were dominated by the war years and the years of rationing just after the war when sugar was scarce and hard to get hold of, but the 1940s did give us the iconic Bazooka Bubble Gum and Junior Mints. Rationing was still going on in the early 1950s, but gradually people became more prosperous and had more money to spend on sweets. The 1950s gave us Atomic Fireballs, Marshmallow Peeps and Candy Necklaces.  I can still remember having Candy Necklaces as a kid, and being really torn as to whether I should wear them or eat them! The 1960s was a very modern decade and saw the introduction of Starburst Fruit Chews, Sweetarts and Lemonheads. The 1970s was when we enjoyed Reese Pieces and Jelly Bellies for the first time and Skittles and Gummi Bears appeared in the 1980s.

Retro Candy Gift Baskets and Gift Boxes

There are now many stores and internet sites where you can buy your favourite retro candy either by weight, of even by the jar.  However, if you would really love to be able to indulge your sweet tooth on lots of different brands of retro candy, why not buy a retro candy gift box or gift basket that contains a great selection of different candies and sweets?  You can buy retro candy gift baskets for individual decades or as a nostalgic candy selection across the years.  Retro candy gift baskets also make great gifts for Christmas, birthdays, as a get well present or as a fabulous thank you present.  There are retro candy gift boxes and gift baskets in all different sizes and to suit all different budgets.  Also, if you are looking for something a bit different for Halloween candy this year, why not get some retro candy and give the local kids a sweet taste of times gone by?

So whether you have one firm retro candy favourite and want to buy your best-loved candy by weight or by the jar, or whether you want to buy some amazing retro candy gifts for family and friends, you will find a great range of retro candy and old fashioned sweets available online.  Have a look on Amazon today to find your childhood candy favourites and take yourself back in time to when going to the sweet shop to choose your sweets was the most important and most exciting part of the week.  And I bet that I can still blow a bigger bubblegum bubble than you!

Love Wrapping Gifts? Choose Great Gift Boxes, Gift Wrap and Gift Bags

Do You Love Wrapping Gifts?

Do you love wrapping gifts?  These days there is such a huge selection of gift wrap, gift bags and gift boxes to choose from, that you can really go to town with your gift wrapping and create a truly beautiful looking wrapped gift.  How many gifts do you buy during a year? Most of us have birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, anniversary presents, baby shower gifts, wedding presents, engagement gifts and romantic tokens for Valentine’s Day to wrap up, and each occasion calls for its own unique styles and colours of gift wrapping.  For Christmas gift wrapping you can choose brightly coloured wrapping papers with the traditional Santas, snowmen, and reindeer on them all tied up with big red velvet bows, or  have a theme for Christmas that incorporates tasteful neutral  or metallic colours. Wrapping a wedding gift is all about white, silver and palest pink wrapping paper, light as air gauze ribbons and lots of beautiful flowers.  Birthday gifts can be a bit more personal to wrap and you can match the style of gift wrap to the personality of your loved one or friend. Of course, it is when you are wrapping kids’ presents that you can have the most fun, and if they have a favourite character, like Hello Kitty or a Disney Princess, you will most certainly be able to find gift bags and gift wrap with these characters on.  If you have kids and take them to lots of parties or have a wide circle of family and friends to buy gifts for, you can also buy excellent sets containing all the gift wrap, tissue, ribbon and bows that you will need. To keep all of your unused gift wrapping stuff together neatly in one place, you can buy really useful gift wrap organizers, with separate compartments for all your spare wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows.  And if you are really struggling for inspiration when it comes to wrapping your gifts, or do not feel confident in your wrapping skills, there as some great books available that give great gift wrapping ideas and show you the wrapping techniques that will get you stunning results.

Find Gift Wrap, Gift Boxes and Gift Bags Online

You can buy some great gift wrap and gift wrapping accessories in stores, but if you want to have a look at the biggest possible selection, then you will need to look online.  Amazon has a truly huge range of gift wrapping products for you to choose from, in all different colours, styles and designs. Whether you are looking for a stunning, individual gift bag or wrapping paper for a single gift, or whether you want a large quantity of wrapping paper and ribbon that all matches, you will surely find exactly what you are looking for.  And if you are looking for wrapping paper or gift bags that have matching gift tags, tissue paper, ribbons and bows, then Amazon is the place for you. So go online today and have fun shopping for great gift wrap!

Gift Boxes

Some gifts are so special or fragile that they need to be presented in a gift box. If you buy a special gift of jewelry, it makes the gift even more exceptional if you buy a pretty gift box to put it in. Also if you like to make homemade candy, pastries or cakes to give as gifts, you can buy white gift boxes in lots of different sizes and then add a splash of colour with a big bow or a branch of artificial flowers.  Something which is very popular these days is the giving out of favors at weddings or big parties, and you will find that you can buy lots of different cute favor boxes online, which are ideal to put those sugared almonds or trinkets in.

Gift Wrap

Pink, red, blue, yellow, green, patterned, plain, floral, cartoon characters, metallic, balloons, Happy Birthday – you can buy so many different designs of gift wrapping paper that you are truly spoiled for choice. I always like to keep a few rolls of fairly neutral gift wrap at home, just so that I have something to use when I have to buy gifts unexpectedly or at short notice. Of course, if you are splashing out on a really expensive present for someone special, you can buy single sheets of luxury wrapping paper.  If you buy your gift wrap online, you can choose any size of paper, different combinations of numbers of sheets, a single roll or multiple rolls of wrapping paper. And there is an added bonus to buying online, as if you are planning to buy lots of wrapping paper for an occasion like Christmas, then you do not have to carry it all back from the store as it will be delivered straight to your door!

Gift Bags

Gift bags have been really gaining in popularity in recent years, probably because they combine attractiveness with convenience. All you need to do is choose your gift bag and pop your present inside.  Gift bags are really handy if you are taking a gift to a party in a restaurant or someone’s house, as they are easy to carry and then stack with all the other gifts.  Gift bags usually have gift tags already attached to them, which is handy, and if you need to, you can wrap your gift in tissue paper to keep it safe from damage.  Gift bottles come in all different sizes, shapes and colours, so you should have no problem in finding the best gift bag for to fit your present in.  Gift bags are also really useful if you are buying bottles of wine or champagne as gifts, as you can buy gift bags that have been specially designed to carry bottles.

Ribbons, Bows and Tissue Paper

Of course, what will put the perfect finishing touches to any wrapped gift are the little extras like a ribbon, a pretty bow or even some artificial flowers.  You can buy rolls and lengths of ribbon online, in a veritable rainbow of colours and, if you like to keep a stock of ribbon in the house, you can even buy sets of gift wrapping ribbon in different colours.  If your wrapping skills don’t run to tying your own ribbon bows, then you can buy packs of gift bows that you can easily stick onto your present to make it look even more attractive.  These gift bows come in lots of different colours and sizes, and you can also buy striking metallic ribbon bows that are especially popular at Christmas.  One of the most useful things to keep a stock of for your gift wrapping needs is tissue paper. Tissue paper is really good for wrapping around fragile gifts to keep them safe, or for lining a gift bag, or even to be used instead of wrapping paper. You can either buy your tissue paper in single colours or in packs of different coloured tissue paper.

So unleash your inner creative genius next time that you have a gift to wrap, by buying wonderful gift wrapping paper, gift bags, gift boxes, ribbons, bows and tissue paper online.  Have fun and amaze your loved ones and friends when they see how beautifully wrapped their gifts are!