Saturday, 24 November 2012

Pick the Perfect Picnic Basket

Do you have a great picnic basket? Once spring is on the way, we can once again look forward to spending more time in the great outdoors. And if we are going to be spending more time outside in the sunshine, it means that we need to be prepared to take our food with us. The great picnic season has begun! Is there any greater pleasure in the summertime than putting together some delicious food and maybe a bottle of wine, packing it all into a picnic basket and taking off for the day? Whether you like hanging out at the beach, hiking through the hills, or finding a shady spot to lounge in the shade beside a stream in a meadow somewhere, you are going to need that perfect picnic basket to take with you. They also make wonderful gifts. What better present than a picnic hamper full of scrumptious food and drink? Or for the bride and groom who seem to have everything, why not get them a fantastic picnic basket as a gift for that summer wedding?

The Picnic
The Picnic

How Do You Choose Your Perfect Picnic Basket? 

There are many questions that you need to ask before you make that all-important picnic basket decision. For a start, how many people do you need to cater for? Do you usually go out for a romantic picnic for two or is a bigger basket needed for a large family day out? Do you want to pack a traditional wicker picnic basket for your trip, or do you need something more utilitarian and easier to carry like a backpack? Another important question is do you want to get an empty picnic basket or one that comes complete with all the plates, glasses and cutlery you need already inside it? Of course, an important consideration is budget. Do you want to spend a lot of money on a luxury picnic basket or are you looking for one that is relatively inexpensive? A lot will, of course, depend on how much use you intend to get from your hamper, how you plan to transport it, and where you are going to take it.

Traditional Wicker Picnic Baskets 

Nothing can be more luxurious and take you back in time than packing a traditional wicker picnic basket. Often lined with gingham cloth, you can take a traditional wicker hamper with you anywhere. Whether you are going on a very posh picnic at an alfresco evening concert, having a day at the races or finding a secluded spot in nature for a romantic lunch, a traditional wicker picnic basket will never let you down. Again, you can get them empty, or you can choose one with all the accessories that you need included. Decide on how many people you need to cater for before you purchase your picnic hamper and then choose what delicious food you are going to take on your outing. Sandwiches, grapes, smoked salmon, cheese, scones, strawberries, pies and so many more goodies can all be safely packed into your traditional wicker picnic basket.

Insulated Picnic Baskets 

If you going for a trip on a very hot day, or you are taking food out with you that may spoil easily or you just want to keep that bottle of wine or the juice nice and cold, you might want to think about getting an insulated picnic basket. You can find insulated picnic baskets in various different sizes and in many different colours. Some are just wine and cheese coolers, or you can get an insulated picnic tote or an insulated picnic hamper large enough for all the family. You can get them with separate compartments for keeping bottles cool and you can also find them in different sizes depending on how many you are catering for. If carrying weight is a problem, you can even get insulated rolling picnic totes that are on wheels and that you can pull behind you. If space is an issue in your home, you can choose a collapsible one that just folds up neatly when you want to store it. These are also perfect if you want to keep it stored in your car or maybe your caravan or motor home.

Backpack Picnic Baskets 

If you need to take a picnic with you when you are hiking, riding, cycling or skiing, maybe a backpack picnic basket is what you need to choose? They are easy to carry as they can be slung over your shoulders and carried on your back, and can be bought in a wide range of sizes and colours. You can get an empty backpack if you want to use accessories that you already have, or you can select one that already come complete with cups, plates and cutlery. Some even come with picnic rugs and napkins included.

So whatever type of alfresco meal that you are planning, there is the perfect picnic basket for you out there. There is a great range available in the stores and you can also find a wonderful selection online – so go and have a look today and make sure you are fully prepared for a fantastic summer.

The Picnic Image Wiliamart Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Why Not Have A Gumball Machine At Home?

The History of Gumballs

There was always something fascinating when I was a child about being given a coin to put into a vending machine, and gumball machines were my favourites.  I would put my money in the gumball machine and pray that my favourite colour gumball would arrive in the tray.  So why are we so attracted to gumball machines? Is it the gumballs themselves or the bright colours or is it because we associate gumball machines with sweet shops, ice cream parlours, amusement arcades, malls and seaside resorts?  So what is a gumball?  A gumball is a sphere of gum that is coated in brightly coloured hard candy, and the different colours of gumball may also have different flavours.  Here in Britain, gumballs are sometimes called Screwballs because there is a gumball to be found at the bottom of each Screwball ice cream. People have been chewing on forms of gum since ancient times, mainly as a method of cleaning their teeth and to help keep their breath fresh.  Neolithic man was chewing birch bark tar around 5000 years ago, and the Ancient Greeks chewed a gum made from the resin of the mastic tree. Native Americans chewed resin from the sap of the spruce tree, and this practice was adopted by the early European settlers.  This led to the development, in 1848, of the very first commercially produced chewing gum in the US, when John B Curtis started selling The State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum. Chewing gum as we know it came about in the 1860s when chicle, a form of latex, started to be imported into the US from Mexico and was found to be a good base for chewing gum. These days most chewing gum and gumball manufacturers use synthetic latex to make their gum, as it is cheaper and easier to get hold of.

Gumball Machines - Wikimedia Commons Public Domain
Gumball Machines

What is a Gumball Machine?

So what exactly is a gumball machine? A gumball machine is a vending machine that dispenses candy gumballs when a coin is put into a slot.  Gumball machines range in size from mini gumball machines through to full size gumball vending machines, and can be used as toys, novelty gifts or as part of a vending machine business. Gumball machines were first introduced into the United States in around 1907, and in 1923 the Norris Manufacturing Company patented their ‘Master’ range of chrome gumball machines that were so popular during the 1930s.  Another company who manufactured gumball machines in the 1930s was the Ford Gum and Machine Company, who made the distinctive coloured chrome gumball machines where the money from the gumball sales went to local charitable organisations. In 1994 the Wizard Spiral Gumball Machine was introduced, and these soon gained popularity as toys and novelty gifts, as you can spend hours pushing down the top of the gumball machine and watching the gumball rolling down the spiral inside the machine.

Where To Find Great Toy Gumball Machines

One of the best places to buy gumball machines is online, and Amazon offers a huge selection for you to browse through.  Kids love playing with them, so a toy gumball machine makes a perfect Christmas or birthday gift.  They are also a great attraction at kid’s parties; just ensure that they are well supervised and that there is no chance of the younger children choking on the gumballs. There is a huge selection of different styles and colours to choose from.  You can get mini gumball machine that can sit on a shelf or you can get gumball machines on stands.  The thing you must look out for when you are buying them is whether the gumballs are included with the gumball dispenser.  It would be very disappointing to open your gumball machine up at Christmas or on the night of that special party only to find that you had no candy!  There are also lots of novelty ones to choose from.  There are Hello Kitty gumball machines, gumball machines in the shape of retro petrol pumps, antique style gumball machines and spiral gumball machine toys. They are made in a variety of bright colours to appeal to your little ones, with bright red and vivid blue being the most popular, although you can also get pink ones for your little princess.  There is no need to despair when the last piece of candy is dispensed from your machine, as you can also get a good selection of gumball refill packs online.

Coin Operated Gumball Machines

Of course you may want to invest in a coin operated gumball machine online for your business.  Again, there is a great selection available on Amazon and you can choose from models that sit on the shelf or gumball machines on stands. These tend to be more expensive than the toy ones as they are more robust and designed to take some potentially rough handling.  You can also buy bulk candy vending machines, with containers for gumballs, different types of candy and nuts. You may well decide to have a coin operated gumball machine at home, so that the kids have to use their pocket money for their candy or you could give your kids coins to put in the machine as a reward for good behaviour or completion of their chores.
So have a look online today for a great gumball machine!  They make great novelty presents for adults as well as great toys for children, and there is a gumball machine to suit every budget.  Stuck for ideas for Secret Santa this year? Well if the person that you have been given to get a gift for loves candy and gum, why not get them a gumball machine? They are great fun to have, so go online and choose a great gumball machine today.

Why Choose Baby Walker Toys and Push Toys for Babies and Toddlers

Different Types of Baby Walkers and Push Toys

The first year of a baby’s life is the most important one when it comes to developing the many skills that they will need in life and learning new things. One of the most important things that an infant learns in that all important first year is how to crawl and then walk.  Most parents are keen to do all they can to encourage their baby’s mobility and an infant’s first steps are a time for celebration and joy. Some of the most popular toys that parents buy to help their little ones improve their walking skills and balance are baby walkers and push toys.  There is a wide variety of baby walkers and push toys available, so it is important that you take the time to choose the right walker for your child.  Do you want a baby walker that your infant sits in and, if so, do you want the walker to be a moveable one or stationary and do you want your baby walker to have an activity centre incorporated in it? Or do you want a baby walker that your young child can push around, but not sit in, like the traditional wooden wagons or push along activity centres?  There are also lots of simple push toys in fun shapes like animals or insects that you can buy for your child.

Using a Baby Walker - Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Are There Any Benefits from Sit In Baby Walkers?

The kinds of baby walkers that a baby sits in and which allows them to move around the room are very popular with parents, but are they good for your child?  This type of baby walker has been subject to a lot of debate, and before purchasing one you need to check that it meets all of the current safety standards and that it is always used under strict supervision. There have been a lot of babies that have been injured using sit in baby walkers, as they can move with astonishing speed, reach objects that they could not get at before and potentially fall down steps or bump themselves on door frames and furniture. You can now buy baby walkers that have special brakes or gripping mechanisms that activate if part of the walker goes off the ground, and that also have safety friction strips fitted that stops the baby walker from skidding.  Most baby walkers are also now made with bases that are too wide to fit through an average doorframe, so that your infant is confined to one room, but also check how stable the base is as you do not want the baby walker to topple over and injure your precious baby. With small babies learning to walk you cannot be too careful, so if you are putting your baby in a walker make sure that you are watching them all of the time, that there are no fragile or sharp objects that can be knocked over or grabbed by small fingers, and that there is adequate protection from the walker toppling your infant into a fire, against a hot oven or into a pond, filled bath or tub of hot water. It is also helpful if the baby walker folds down flat, so that it is easier for you to store away.

It has also been questioned as to whether baby walkers do actually help your infant when they are learning to walk.  Baby walkers should never be used before the age of six months or before a baby can sit up independently, as putting your baby in a walker before this could potentially lead to posture problems when they are older. There has also been research that shows that using a baby walker for long periods of time can cause problems with the development of a child’s leg muscles and hip joints, so it is wise to restrict the time your baby is in a walker to around 15-20 minutes a session. To address these concerns, toy manufacturers are now producing stationary baby walkers which do not move across the floor, but allow your infant to rock, bounce or spin in the walker. Most of these stationary baby walkers also come with activity centres to keep your little one well entertained.  The activity centre should comprise of toys and activities that help your baby to develop their motor skills and hand to eye co-ordination, start them off learning their colours, letters and numbers and if there are components that make lots of noise or plays tunes then that just adds to the fun.  Again check that the stationary walker has a wide and stable base and has a height adjustment feature that allows for your baby to grow.

Push Along Baby Walkers

You can also get a wide range of push along baby walkers.  These are toys that have a handle that lets your child push it around the room.  These push along walker toys encourage your baby to walk more and also they help them with their balance and their confidence in walking.  You can choose from traditional wooden push along toddler wagons that can come with blocks or other toys, and can be used by your infant to push their teddies or dolls around the room. Or there is a great range of baby walkers that have activity centres with entertaining toys, lights and sound effects.  These are most often made from plastic and are in bright and cheerful colours that are very attractive to young children.  They are easy to wipe clean and provide hours of fun for your little one.

Push Toys

Much simpler than baby walkers, but just as much fun for your baby is a push toy. These are toys that have wheels and a handle to push them along. They also help your toddler with their balance and encourage mobility, and can be in the shape of animals, birds, caterpillars, trucks or can have a roller containing musical chimes that turns and plays music when it is pushed.

Where to Find Baby Walkers and Push Toys

One of the best places to find a huge selection of baby walkers and push toys is online.  Amazon has a great range, including the big brand names like Vtech, Fisher Price and Melissa & Doug, so go and have a look today.  Baby walker toys make great gifts at Christmas or for early years birthdays, and you will find that there is a baby walker or push toy available in every price range.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Why Choose Winnie the Pooh Books and Toys?

Who is Winnie the Pooh?

 Original Winnie the Pooh Toys - Wikimedia Commons Public Domain
Original Winnie The Pooh Toys

Winnie the Pooh is probably the most famous stuffed bear that the world has ever known.  Along with his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood, these lovable characters have been firm favourites with generations of children.  So how did the worldwide phenomenon that is Winnie the Pooh come about? It all started back in the First World War, when some Canadian soldiers were travelling across Canada on their way to Europe and the Western Front.  During a train stop, Lieutenant Harry Colebourn bought a small black female bear cub for $20 from a hunter who had just shot her mother. Lieutenant Colebourn took the tiny bear cub to Europe with him and she became the Brigade mascot.  He called her after his home town of Winnipeg, and she became known as ‘Winnie’.  Lieutenant Colebourn could not take Winnie to the battlefields with the Brigade, so he arranged for her to stay at London Zoo and when the war was over in 1919, Winnie became a permanent London Zoo resident. 

She lived until 1934 and was a very popular attraction at the zoo.  One of her particular admirers was a young gentleman called Christopher Robin, who was the young son of the author A.A Milne. Winnie the bear and Christopher Robin became firm friends, and Christopher Robin even spent time in her cage with her.  He was also so taken with Winnie, that he changed the name of his teddy bear from Edward Bear to Winnie the Pooh. The friendship between Winnie and Christopher Robin inspired A.A Milne to start writing stories about his son Christopher Robin,  a teddy bear called Winnie the Pooh and their adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood.  Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh were joined in their adventures by other friends such as Piglet, Owl, Eeyore, Rabbit, Tigger, Kanga and Roo, again all inspired by other stuffed animals owned by Christopher Robin.  You can still see the original stuffed toys that belonged to Christopher Robin in the Children’s Centre in the New York Public Library.  The original stories were published by Methuen, with ‘Winnie the Pooh’ appearing in 1926, ‘Now We Are Six’ in 1927, and ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ in 1928.  One of the things that made these books so special was the enchanting illustrations of lovable stuffed bear and his friends that were drawn by E.H Shepard.  These books, including ‘When We Were Young’, became worldwide bestsellers and sold millions of copies.

Winnie the Pooh DVDs

Winnie the Pooh then went on to catch the eye of the great Walt Disney.  The books had been firm favourites with his young daughters and so he brought the magic of Winnie the Pooh to the silver screen in 1966.  The first feature-length animated film starring Winnie the Pooh was ‘The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’ released in 1977 and was followed twenty years later in 1997 by ‘Pooh’s Grand Adventure’.  The Bear of Little Brain had become a worldwide movie star, and Disney acknowledged that he had probably came second only to Mickey Mouse as their most loved animated character. His animated adventures have also now been released on DVD, so you can catch up on all of the stories from the Hundred Acre Wood in the comfort of your own home.  His friends also get to star in their own movies and there is a Tigger movie and a Piglet movie that you can find on DVD. There are also quite a few other Winnie the Pooh DVDs now that you can get both in the shops and  online, including new stories and adventures and Disney has a series of Pooh learning DVDs that introduce numbers, words and shapes and sizes.

Winnie the Pooh Books

You can still buy the original books by A.A Milne, ‘Winnie the Pooh’, ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ and ‘Now We Are Six’, with the original E. H. Shepard illustrations.  The stories are such classics that I think that they should form an integral part of every child’s book collection.  You can also get some very beautiful compilations of the original Winnie the Pooh stories and also boxed sets of all the books.  Of course, there have also now been many other stories telling of the adventures in The Hundred Acre Wood published which range from colourful picture books and pop-up books for very young children to longer stories for older children.  If the child you are buying for is creative, you can also get colouring books and sticker books that will provide hours of interest and fun. You can also find the Winnie the Pooh Books on audio CD, so your children can listen to the adventures of the stuffed animals of the Hundred Acre Woods at home or in the car.

Winnie the Pooh Stuffed Bears

Of course, we must not forget that Winnie the Pooh is a teddy bear, and a famous one at that, so it is only right that there is a huge range of cuddly Winnie the Pooh stuffed bears for you to choose from.  There are stuffed bears in all sizes and in lots of different outfits, although most of them are made of soft golden plush and are wearing his signature red shirt.  There are cuddly toys especially designed for new babies and for older children, so your baby’s very first teddy bear could be the one and only Winnie the Pooh.  You can also get ones that can be programmed to know your name and say around 1,000 phrases.
Winnie the Pooh Toys

If your children are big fans of Winnie the Pooh, there are so many toys that you can choose for them today.  Play is a very important way of learning for children and there is a wide range of Winnie the Pooh learning toys available. The toy company Vtech produce a good selection of learning toys, including Pooh’s Picture Computer, Winnie the Pooh Sort ‘n Learn Cart and Winnie the Pooh Teach ‘n Lights Phone. You can also get play sets of figurines, lot of different games and stacker toys for very young children.  In fact, our favourite bear of little brain is fairly ubiquitous, so he appears on everything from nursery bed linen, to balloons, picnic cups and napkins.

He has become so popular that you can now find a huge range of Winnie the Pooh books, stuffed bears, toys, nursery furniture, clocks, games and clothes, which can all easily be bought either in ths shop or online.  Winnie the Pooh toys and books make great gifts for kids at Christmas and birthdays, and there are ranges of books and toys that are suitable for all ages. It also doesn’t matter what your budget is, because there is Winnie the Pooh merchandise out there that can be bought with pocket money all the way through to unique collectibles that cost that little bit more.


Good Value Designer Handbags From Hilary Radley

Hilary Radley Handbags

Is the latest designer handbag something that you would ever think of buying online?  We women love getting new handbags and, unfortunately for us, the latest style by a famous designer tends to retail for a very large sum of money. While you may not have several thousand dollars to splurge on the latest designer handbag, there are some very good designers out there who have ranges of that are a lot more affordable and can be bought easily online.

Hilary Radley is one of North America’s fashion success stories.  She was born in England and did a BA Degree in Textiles before going to work in television as a costume designer and lecturing in fashion.  She then emigrated to Canada where she began working on building her empire in fashion design. She is now based in Montreal and has been successfully designing iconic outerwear for twenty five years and markets a full range of ‘Hilary Radley’ branded coats, shoes and those all important handbags.

But if you do not have a retail outlet near where you live that stock Hilary Radley coats or accessories do not worry as a wide range of Hilary Radley outerwear, shoes and handbags can now easily be bought online.

Hilary Radley Jump It Parachute Bags – Cross Body and Tote

If you are looking for the perfect purse for casual occasions that still looks effortlessly chic, look no further than the Hilary Radley Jump It Parachute Handbags.  They have a quilted fabric body, faux leather straps and trimming and have plenty of pockets to keep your things safe in.  They also have an adjustable strap, so that you can wear your handbag in any style that you choose. By contrast, the Hilary Radley Jump It Parachute Tote is designed to be carried in your hands, but still has the convenience of having an adjustable add-on strap.   These great designer purses come in a delicious range of colours including pretty pastel pink, smart black, cool beige, rusty red with a brown trimming and pale grey.  So there is a colour you could choose that is perfect for every season and a handbag to go with all of your favourite outfits!

Hilary Radley Canvas Totes

All women know that their handbag can never be big enough!  Mine is a bit like a tardis and once something goes in it may never be seen again.  So if you are one of those women who need to carry nearly all their worldly possessions with them whenever they go out for the day, a tote handbag is the ideal choice for you.  If you need a purse that can fit in your entire make up collection, the book you are reading, your glasses case, wallet etc etc but still look great, why not think of getting a Hilary Radley Canvas Tote online?
The Hilary Radley Coated Canvas Tote is made from coated canvas and is lined with twill. It has a zip fastener and contrasting snake-skin trim and handles.  It is the perfect size to carry all the belongings that you will need during the day, and still let you look stylish and trendy.  It  comes in a gorgeous range of colours, that include a wonderfully bright coral, green citrus, mocha brown and natural, so there is bound to be a colour that is perfect for you.

If you did want a smaller, daintier tote handbag, the Hilary Radley Coated Canvas Mini Tote could be just what you are looking for.  This handbag is identical in all respects to the Hilary Radley Coated Canvas Tote except for its smaller size.

If you wanted a slightly more casual look for your tote handbag, but still want a stylish yet practical bag, have a look at the Hilary Radley Coast Bucket Tote.  Made of the same coated canvas as the other Hilary Radley tote bags with a twill lining, and the snake-print trim and handles, the Hilary Radley Coast Bucket Tote has a magnetic fastening at the top.

Hilary Radley Hobo Handbags

A hobo style handbag is one that is fairly large, crescent shaped, made of some sort of soft, flexible material with a long strap designed to be worn over the shoulder and squash up a bit when it is put down.  This popular style of handbag is named after the shape of the bundle on the stick that hobos are pictured carrying over their shoulder in cartoons and drawings.

If you have set your heart on a new, designer hobo handbag, there may just be one in the Hilary Radley range that has been produced with you in mind.  The Hilary Radley Taylor Coated Canvas Hobo is a casual, yet elegant bag, which is big enough to fit in everything that you might need.  It is made of coated canvas with a twill lining, and has a snake-skin effect trim and strap.  The bag comes in citrus, mocha, natural or vibrant coral.

If you are looking for a hobo handbag that is a bit fancier, take a peek at the Hilary Radley Button Up Hobo. This hobo handbag has plaited handles, and is decorated with covered buttons, studs and stitching in circular patterns. The Hilary Radley Button Up Hobo has a cotton blend lining and is fastened with a zip at the top.  This versatile handbag comes in cognac, burgundy or navy.  If you prefer a more modern look to your hobo, choose the Hilary Radley Studded Ways Hobo, which combines a soft leather-like body with patterns picked out with studs and stitching.  Or if you like your handbags to be a bit edgier choose the Hilary Radley Kats Staple Hobo with staple accents, stitching and some angled zip pockets.

Hilary Radley Satchels

If you are looking for a handbag that is a bit more formal and elegant, something that you could take to a smart meeting but still has enough space for all your things, why not look at a Hilary Radley Satchel? The Hilary Radley Woven E/W Satchel is smart and elegant, and is such a classic shape that you could be wearing it season after season and it would still look fashionable. It is a very capacious handbag, with an interior that is divided with pockets that keeps all your things well organised and easy to find.   The Hilary Radley Woven E/W Satchel has a zip fastening and comes in the timeless, elegant colours black or brown.  For a twist on the classic satchel design, try the Hilary Radley Tab Square Satchel, which has a chunky over-the-top tab fastener with some metal accents and an attachable, adjustable strap.

So whatever you are looking for in a handbag, you will be able to find the perfect Hilary Radley handbag for you.  Whether you are looking for casual chic or a timeless classic, you cannot go wrong buying Hilary Radley Handbags online.  And if you find one that you fall totally in love with – then why not get it in all the different colours!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Story of Fudge

What is Fudge?

Fudge is a very popular type of confectionery that is typically very sweet and very rich.  It is usually made as a rectangular slab of fudge, and then cubed and sold loose by weight or in boxes that make great gifts. Alternatively, fudge can be made in a log shape and sliced. In the UK you can buy boxes of fudge in many popular tourist destinations, and quite often the boxes have a picture of the place you have visited on the lid to remind you of where you have been, or if given as a gift, to show the recipient what a beautiful place you have visited.  The main ingredients for fudge are sugar, butter, cream and flavourings.  The ingredients are heated to the soft-ball stage (around 240 degrees fahrenheit/116 degrees centigrade), and then the mixture is beaten as it cools to ensure that the consistency is wonderfully smooth and creamy.  Nobody wants to eat lumpy fudge, and quality fudge has a smooth consistent texture. 


Fudge Recipes?

The early recipes for fudge were notoriously difficult to make, and it is believed that the invention of fudge actually came from a batch of caramels that went wrong.  It might sound like a simple operation to heat the mixture of ingredients and then beat it while it cools, but in those days before accurate sugar thermometers were available, many batches of fudge had to be discarded because the fudge was either undercooked or overcooked or ‘crystallized’ because the mixture had not been stirred well enough. As time went on, more foolproof recipes for fudge were developed that could successfully be used at home.  These new fudge recipes contained corn syrup, because the corn syrup prevented crystallization and ensured that the fudge would have the desired smooth and creamy texture.  Recipes for fudge were also produced that used sweet condensed milk, marshmallow crème or other similar ingredients rather than regular milk or cream, as again they had a better guarantee that the fudge possessed a uniformly smooth texture.

The ingredients of modern fudge are very similar to an older type of confectionery known as ‘tablet’, which was mentioned in Lady Grisell Baillie’s ‘The Household Book of Lady Grisell Baillie’ in Scotland between 1692 and 1733.  However, the birthplace of modern fudge is adjudged to be America and one of the first mentions of fudge in America is in a letter written by a female student at Vassar College in 1886.  She wrote that her classmate’s cousin had been making fudge in Baltimore and had sold it for 40 cents a pound. The student got hold of the recipe for fudge and made 30lbs of fudge to be sold at the 1888 Vassar College Senior Auction.  The fudge was very popular and, and the fudge recipe went on to be used at the college for many years.  Making fudge spread to some of the other women’s colleges in America, and both Wellesley and Smith have their own fudge recipes dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Further proof of the US being the birthplace of modern fudge comes from Harmsworth’s Household Encyclopaedia, published in London in 1920, which states that fudge is ‘a sweetmeat that hails from America, but is now popular in other countries also’.

What Flavours of Fudge Are There?

Nowadays, you can find fudge in practically any flavour that you can think of.  American fudge is traditionally chocolate flavoured, and you can get milk chocolate fudge, dark chocolate fudge and even white chocolate fudge. In the States, Hot Fudge is a more liquid version of thick, syrupy chocolate fudge that is poured over the top of ice cream, desserts and cakes. In the UK, fudge is more commonly caramel flavoured and in Devon and Cornwall they produce fudge made from their delicious Clotted Cream.  Some of the flavours of fudge that I have seen  for sale are chocolate caramel, banoffee, rum and raisin, toffee, strawberries and cream, fruit and nut, lemon meringue, maple and walnut, key lime, vanilla, mint and rocky road.  Is your mouth watering yet, because mine is at the thought of all that scrumptious fudge!  You can buy fudge at a lot of retail outlets, especially in tourist destinations or gift shops.  Handmade fudge is often for sale at markets, being sold loose by weight, so look out for that fudge stall!  But the most convenient way of choosing fudge is probably by purchasing it online.  Amazon has a very wide range of fudge to buy online, offering gift boxes of fudge in many different sizes and flavours.  You can also find fudge kits for a very easy way to make your own fudge and fudge recipe books.

Fudge makes the perfect gift for that friend or loved one with a sweet tooth, or why not choose some fudge as a special treat for yourself?  So whether you want to buy some fudge or learn to make your own homemade fudge, you will find everything that you need to online.

Fudge image Brampton Cyclist Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Why Choose Stacker Toys for Infants and Toddlers

Why Give Stacker Toys to Babies and Toddlers?

Babies and toddlers have so much to learn in their first few years of life, and that is why parents are so concerned that the toys they buy their children stimulate them and help them to learn.  So what types of toys can you buy for your little ones that will help them learn and develop their skills, while still giving them lots of fun?  One of the most popular toys with babies and toddlers, and one with which they will play with for hours, are stacking toys. There are many different types of stacking toys on the market today, and in many different materials and colours.  So what educational benefits do babies and toddlers gain from playing with stacking toys?  Because stacking toys are brightly coloured, they help babies and toddlers to recognise colours and learn their names.  The action of stacking the pieces of the toy helps to develop your child’s fine-motor skills, improves their hand/eye coordination and gives them practice in basic problem solving in a fun situation. Stacker toys also teach very young children about size, and how things fit together.  Stackers also encourage numeracy, as your child becomes aware of how many pieces they have to stack. Some stackers also have lights, music and buttons to press, which are additional features that also help with developing co-ordination and problem-solving skills.  To get your toddler started in learning their letters, you can buy colourful stackers with ABC letters on them.

Creative Playthings Four-way Blocks

So What Are Stacker Toys Made From?

Stacker toys for babies and toddlers are made in a variety of different materials, such as plastic, wood and fabrics.  Where possible the ideal thing is to look for stacker toys made from organic materials.  Many stacker toys are made from painted wood, so it is much kinder to the planet and better for your child’s health, if the wood has come from trees grown organically.  This means that your child will not be exposed to any of the dangerous pesticides or chemicals that can be used when growing trees commercially. Also try to ensure that the stacker toys that you buy are made from solid wood, as pressed wood can contain formaldehyde, which is definitely a nasty chemical that you don’t want your toddler exposed to. Any paint on your stacker toy should also check out as not containing any toxins. Organic plastic is not so common and organic plastic toys are harder to find, but they do not contain the dangerous chemicals found in ordinary plastics, as organic plastic is not made from non-renewable petroleum products.  Fabric stacking toys are good for your baby or toddler, as the different textures of the materials, as well as the bright colours, stimulate your child’s sensory perceptions. They are also light and have no sharp edges, so can be thrown around and dropped by babies, without them hurting themselves or damaging anything.

Finding The Best Stacking Toys

One of the very best places to buy stacker toys is online.  Why not have a look through Amazon’s great range of stacker toys today? They have a really wide range of stacker toys available to suit all budgets.  You can buy the major brand names in stacker toys, such as Fisher Price and Melissa & Doug, and also organic stacker toys and fabric stacker toys. If you are looking for a gift for a young family member or child of a friend, you will find that stacker toys make great gifts for Christmas or the first few birthdays of a child’s life. Stacker toys are also very durable, so your child can play with them and be as boisterous as they like, without breaking them. You will even be able to pass your stacker toys onto the next generation of children, when your child moves on to more sophisticated toys.

So give your child hours of endless fun play and help them to learn and develop, by buying them a stacker toy online.  After all, what can be bad about a toy that helps your child develop counting skills, good hand eye/coordination and fine-motor skills, and helps them to recognise colours and textures?  Flashing lights or music can be an extra bonus, add to the fun of playing and learning with a stacker toy for your child.

Creative Playthings Image Daniel Schwen Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Why Choose Pull Along Toys for Your Toddler?

Why Buy Pull Along Toys for Your Toddler?

Early childhood is a magical time and toddlers spend most of their waking hours playing.  But playing is how older babies and toddlers learn, so it is important that the toys that you buy for your kids are educational as well as fun to play with. So what are the best educational toys that you can buy for your toddler?  One of the best toys that you can invest in for your infant is a pull along toy.  So you may be thinking how is a pull along toy a good educational toy for a toddler? Well a pull along is a good toy for your toddler to play with for several reasons.  One of the main reasons is that toddlers find pull along toys fun to play with, as they love to spend hours pulling things around behind them.  The act of pulling a toy around behind them helps an infant to learn to balance properly when they are walking, and also encourages them to spend more time on their feet learning to walk more confidently.  The ideal age to start giving your child pull along toys is about 18 months, when they have been walking for a couple of months and are able to walk and give their attention to something else at the same time.  Of course, toddlers vary considerably as to what age they start walking properly, so your child might be a bit younger or older when they are ready. Very young children are attracted to anything that is brightly coloured and an appealing, cute shape.  Many pull along toys are shaped like popular animals, birds, insects or vehicles that really appeal to toddlers and encourages their creative play.

What Should the Best Pull Along Toys Be Made From?

What a pull along toy is made of is also very important, as young children like to feel objects, pick them up and try to put them in their mouths!  One of the best materials for pull along toys to be made from is organic wood.  Organic wood is grown without using any potentially dangerous pesticides or chemical fertilisers, so your toddler is not being exposed to any nasty chemicals.  Also look for solid wood for your pull along toys, as the pressed wood that is sometimes used to make wooden toys can contain formaldehyde, another nasty that you do not want your infant exposed to. Also check that any paint used on your wooden pull-along toy is completely non-toxic, especially as at some point your child will try to put some part of the toy in his mouth.  Of course, at lot of pull-along toys are now made of plastic, which is great as plastic is very brightly coloured, very durable and very easy to wipe clean.  Organic plastic is, unfortunately, still quite rare, but if you do see a pull along toy made in organic plastic it is a great toy to buy because organic plastic does not contain any petroleum products or the damaging chemicals that petroleum products contain.

Popular Types of Pull Along Toy

There is a huge selection of pull along toys available these days and one of the best places to buy them is online.  Have a look on Amazon today, to see how many different pull along toys that there are and decide which one would make the best gift for your child. There is also a big selection of push along toys, where instead of the toddler pulling the toy around by a cord, there is a pole attached to the toy made of wood or plastic that lets the child push the toy along.

Animal Pull Along Toys:  Kids love animals, so having an animal pull along toy is going to really appeal to them – the more brightly coloured the better!  Many animal pull along toys have heads and limbs that bob along as they move, which adds some extra fun for your toddler.  The movement of the animal can also create a noise, and what young child does not like creating as much noise as possible?  Whatever your child’s favourite animal is, there is bound to be a pull along toy featuring that animal.  I have seen pull along dogs, monkeys, cats, giraffes, mice, rabbits and also totally not scary big green crocodiles. Some of the push along animals are also snugly soft cuddly toys, and with some of them you can even remove the wheels so that the toys can be used as solely as a cuddly toy.

Insect Pull Along Toys – the world of insects is also well represented in pull along toys.  There is a great choice of butterfly pull along toys, and also brightly coloured segmented caterpillars, snails and bees.
Vehicle Pull Along Toys – the more mechanically minded child would probably be more fascinated by a pull along toy in the shape of a train, helicopter, car or boat. The pull along trains are especially good fun as they often combine as activity toys with detachable carriages that have things like mirrors or bead frames attached for extra play opportunities.

Pull Along Carts – these are the most traditional of the pull along toys and are great for toddlers on several levels.  Often they come with block or other toys inside them, which gives the toddler another dimension to explore as they play.  Also, when they are empty your infant can load the cart with their teddies, dolls or other playthings and use the pull along cart to create a different type of game. Pull along carts come in many different sizes, colours and can be made of metal, wood or plastic.

So whatever pull along toy that you choose for your toddler, it is bound to give them hours of fun, help them improve their walking, and stimulate their creativity.  A lot of pull along toys are also very reasonably priced, so make a great birthday gift or as an extra little something under the tree at Christmas time.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Shop for Bearington Bears and Bearington Baby Products Online

What is a Bearington Bear?

If you love collectible teddy bears, you will love the Bearington teddy bears! If you are lucky enough to own a Bearington bear you will know that they are cute, very well made, and surprisingly affordable.  Bearington bears really have not been around for that long, the company was started thirteen years ago by the Stray family with the aim of producing quality, collectible teddy bears that were easily within the price range of ordinary families. There is a Bearington bear for every occasion and life situation, so you can buy Christmas Bearington bears, get well Bearington bears, fairytale Bearington bears, romantic Bearington bear’s for Valentine’s Day and many more.  As well as the famous Bearington bears, there is also a great range of Bearington plush animals to choose from, and there are cute stuffed plush lambs, cuddly ducklings that quack, leopards, plush dogs, and even adorable bunny purses. Bearington bears make great gifts, so if there is a new baby in your family looking for their first teddy bear friend, or you are looking for a romantic gift for the one you love, or you have a friend who is sick and needs cheering up, you are bound to find the perfect Bearington bear for the occasion.

Bearington Baby

Bearington has also diversified and produced an amazing collection of clothes and accessories for babies.  If you would like to buy a cute fur coat with ears for your baby, look no further than Bearington.  There is a wide range of animals to choose from, and you can buy a giraffe coat, a smartly lined reindeer coat with antlers, luxurious faux fur leopard coats, puppy coats, frog coats, bunny coats and the ultimate in designer luxury, the Bearington baby mink couture coat complete with teddy bear ears.  If you are going for the whole coordinated designer look for your baby you can also buy a range of matching accessories to go alongside your Bearington mink couture coat, such as the Bearington mink couture blanket, the mink couture diaper bag and the mink couture bib.  If you are looking for something to keep your precious bundle of joy warm this winter, Bearington Baby also do an enchanting range of baby blankets and snugglers. These cuddliest of blankets come in soft pastel shades of blue, pink and cream and many have cute teddy, puppy or lambs heads as an extra joy and comfort for your child. Bearington baby products make great gifts for new babies, as for each design there is a range of products, so you can buy a matching bib, snugly blanket, rattle and booties and put together a great present.

Bearington Christmas

Christmas is a special time at Bearington and there is a wide selection of Christmas Bearington bears wearing lots of different festive costumes, reindeer and Santa outfits for your baby to wear on Christmas Day, charming miniature Bearington Christmas bears made into ornaments to hang on your Christmas tree, stuffed plush reindeer and even delightful rattles for baby with a reindeer head to remind them of their first Christmas. All of these Christmas Bearington bears are extremely well made from the highest quality materials and are very collectible, so choose your Christmas Bearington bear today and start adding to your collection.

Bearington Valentine’s Day

If you struggle to find the perfect Valentine gift for your loved one, why not surprise and delight them with a Valentine themed Bearington bear?  There are Bearington Valentine bears for both men and women in a huge variety of sizes and costumes.  Some Valentine Bearington bears are carrying Valentine cards or stuffed hearts, and all of these beautiful teddy bears are bound to win the heart of your beloved on the most romantic day of the year.

Other Bearington Bears

If you need to say a special ‘thank you’ to someone, what is a better way to say it than with a thank you themed Bearington bear?  Of is someone you care about is sick? Then why not bring a smile to their face and speed them on the way to recovery by presenting them with a Bearington get well bear or a Bearington doctor or nurse bear?  Bearington bears come in such a wide range of characters and costumes, both boy bears and girl bears. There are Bearington fairytale princess bears, bears dressed as flower girls, pumpkins and in their pyjamas.  Whatever you want to say with your gift, you will be able to find the ideal Bearington bear for the message that you want to give.

One of the best places to find Bearington bears is online.  Amazon has an excellent selection of Bearington bears and Bearington baby products for you to choose from, so why not have a look today and find that perfect Bearington gift for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, birthdays and any other festive occasion.