Exclusive Early Look at Ikea's Christmas Ranges for 2014. There are Owls & Foxes!

A little peek at what Ikea is currently bring stocked with for Christmas 2014. Some items will already be in stock from 1st October, so get stocked up early. Being a red & white stripe junkie I'm thinking of making my present wrapping all brown parcel paper with red & white stripe cable string decorations this year. Classic.

What catches your eye? Check out the ranges here

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Loving the classic gold.

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Plain green wrap with gold ribbon would look swell.

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Adore these prints on parcel paper.

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These doodles remind me of the Moomins.

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Wine bottle boxes

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IKEA also sell real Christmas trees at very reasonable prices in December, more on that when I know the date it starts. As for now, you can get a head start with buying your decorations.

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I am useless at making gingerbread houses, but every year I give it a go!

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Foxes and owls.

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The bird houses are so cute. I think I'll buy a couple of packs and hang them outdoors all year round.

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A young ambassador with his Ferrero Roche?

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Hairy faced babies, what's to be frightened of??

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Foxes are Out, Sugar Gliders are IN! Follow the Latest Jewellery Trends with LittleMoose.co.uk

I don't like wearing metal jewellery really, so brands like Tatty Devine, Pluck & Devour and the cutie pie Little Moose are my favourites. They sent me one of their newest designs, a sugar glider, bow tie shaped necklace in classy grey. 

Look how cute! 

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Check out the whole collection on the Little Moose webstore. They've all sorts of jewellery as well as bags and accessories.

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Transform Your Instagram Snaps into Magnets with a Click of a Button

I'm going to sing the praises of Sticky 9 this evening. I shared their service with you a few years ago, but with Christmas approaching and stocking filler ideas needed, I thought it was a good time to tell you about them again.

You simply sign into your Instagram account from the Sticky 9 website, and their magnet making wizard allows you to pick which of your photos you want made into a sheet of nine magnets. 

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It really is SO easy and each sheet of nine costs £9.99 and worldwide shipping is free. There is also a high quality print service, and a reusable sticker making option. They've also added the option to make your Instagram photos into phone cases, or tablet covers. These would make lovely presents at Christmas for relatives.

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There's no long wait involved either, as of this post in early October, turnaround from ordering to receiving was just two days. Here are my lovely magnets. My fridge is now like a big, metal photo album.

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The print quality is superb. Also in magnet form it's a lot easier to keep them safe than lots of printed out photos on paper.

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A nice idea for this Christmas would be to maybe take a photo the day your Christmas tree goes up with your kids in front of it, then order a repeat print of that in magnet form and slip one in with each Christmas card you send to family members.

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Hen Dogs, Belfast. Clucking Good Gourmet Hot Dogs & More.

I continue my series of restaurant reviews from the perspective of a family of three, low to middle income and with a fairly adventurous palette, but as yet not too knowledgable about much beyond steak and chips, or chops and mash.

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This weekend our venue was Hen Dogs, in the Cathedral Quarter, just beside the MAC.  The setting is relaxed, you order your food at the bar, and from the mains to the sides it's one of those places where it's a real struggle to choose as half a dozen of the dishes sound amazing.

The setting it bright and clean, friendly and service is quick. Hen Dogs is open all week, so would do rightly for a quick spot of lunch. 

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I love the mismatched furniture, some of the chairs are old school chairs.

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Children have a choice of pork or beef sausage and chips. Coming strictly from a family used to chippy shop sausages wrapped in paper, we found our pork sausages a little anaemic looking. No doubt they are cooked in a much healthier, less fatty way than fried and wrapped in newspaper, but I would have liked to see a little browning on the sausage, even from grilling. I said I am going to be deadly honest in my reviews, so it had to be said!

My son loved the chips though, which were freshly made, still with delicious skin on them. I pinched a few, for review purposes obviously ;-)

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My own choice was the Hog Dog, pork with black pudding, apple ketchup , bacon crumb. It was lovely. I would have liked a little more bacon, but the black pudding gave it a real kick. The bap is soft and cloud like; make sure you try their in house ketchup and house sauce and use any leftover bap to mop it up. My husband would have gladly taken the house sauce home, it was his favourite part.

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I should have picked a side other than the house slaw, as you get a little bit of it with your hot dog any how, but on the other hand I was glad I got slaw as I really enjoyed it.

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My husband went for the spicy Raging Bull Dog. He beef sausage looked nicer than our pork offerings, and he said it was very very good.

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His side choice was 'messy fries' which include salsa and cheese.

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The final part of the kids' menu is the choice between a Nutella or a Raspberry icecream shake. We all had a slurp of this and it was heavenly.

Mums and Dads, don't feel out! Look what we can choose from! The Refresher shake with rose water, coconut and popping candy is just for big kids like us.

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Halloween Goodies at M&S

I always get excited to see what Marks and Spencer will have in store for Halloween each year, and this year they don't disappoint. Spicy scorpions, witches' fingers and jellied green ghouls, here's what you can pick up. Right now all the treats are 3 for 2 too!

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Pumpkin piñata £10 - Scorpion snacks or Spooky Ghosts & Vampire Bats 2 for £2 - Pumpkin Tealight £3.50

Pumpkin piñata £10 - Scorpion snacks or Spooky Ghosts & Vampire Bats 2 for £2 - Pumpkin Tealight £3.50

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Scary pasta meals for kids £2.50 and £2.75 - Ghost cookie £1.50

Scary pasta meals for kids £2.50 and £2.75 - Ghost cookie £1.50

Skeleton hooded onesie, price varies by age starts at £19 - pumpkin £2.00

Skeleton hooded onesie, price varies by age starts at £19 - pumpkin £2.00

Hoodie detail, really impressed with this onesie. Fab quality sweatshirt material. Great for round the house wear, not just night time.

Hoodie detail, really impressed with this onesie. Fab quality sweatshirt material. Great for round the house wear, not just night time.

Trick or Treat sign £6 - Pull along bat £6 - Scaredy Cat Jellies £1.00

Trick or Treat sign £6 - Pull along bat £6 - Scaredy Cat Jellies £1.00

£2.00

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Pack of chocolate lollies £1.00

Pack of chocolate lollies £1.00

Scary Skulls £1.00

Scary Skulls £1.00

Coffin Sweetie box with sound effects £5.00

Coffin Sweetie box with sound effects £5.00

Skull and Bones mallows £1.00

Skull and Bones mallows £1.00

Veggie Pumpkin Jellies £1.00

Veggie Pumpkin Jellies £1.00

Severed Fingers £1.50 I like these manicures

Severed Fingers £1.50 I like these manicures

Scary jellies £1.00 JUST like the ones we had with He-Man shapes as kids!

Scary jellies £1.00 JUST like the ones we had with He-Man shapes as kids!

All part of the 3 for 2 offer and one has a free spider!

All part of the 3 for 2 offer and one has a free spider!

for when the trick or treaters come calling, 10 mini bags £3.00 - going trick of treating yourself? Glowstick pack of two £1

for when the trick or treaters come calling, 10 mini bags £3.00 - going trick of treating yourself? Glowstick pack of two £1

Skull hat and gloves £12 This is his 'hurry up and let me eat the sweets, mummy' face

Skull hat and gloves £12 This is his 'hurry up and let me eat the sweets, mummy' face

Next door's cat is impressed

Next door's cat is impressed

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Busy making pumpkin faces

Chasing Ground's Purple Dragon

To celebrate the re-launch of Ground Espresso Bars’ two Belfast stores and the recent unveiling of their newest coffee blend, ‘Purple Dragon’, Ground will be hosting a family fun day in each Belfast store on Saturday 11October from 2pm – 4pm th.

Join the Ground team for a number of FREE activities including face painting, balloon modelling and Ground’s famous hot chocolate complete with whipped cream and marshmallows for the kids.

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Mum and Dad can recharge over two speciality coffees for the price of one, prepared using Ground’s newest coffee blend, Purple Dragon – a unique blend of beans from Sumatra, Honduras and Ethiopia which promises to take your taste buds on a magical journey.

For more information on the Ground Espresso Bars Family Fun Day, visit www.facebook.com/groundespresso or www.twitter.com/groundespresso

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Retro Inspired Home Decorating

When it comes to giving your home a kitsch makeover, there are just so many exciting ideas out there that it can be pretty hard to know where to start. The good news is, kitsch and retro have made a major comeback recently and so it’s easier than you might think to find gorgeous pieces for your home that won’t cost you the earth.

Kitsch and retro are amazing, there’s no denying it, but there are certain things you should definitely avoid. Here are some ideas to help you create a sweet home to reflect your incredible style - and what not to do too.

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Mix it Up.

 You may love a certain era and so it might be tempting to go all out and pick everything 60s. Don’t. Decorating an entire house in just one style is a big commitment (no, a huge commitment) and there truly are good and bad aspects to every period. Unless you’re truly dedicated to filling your home with décor from entirely one time period - good luck - then mix your years and your favourite things from each. 

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Colour.

If you live on your own, then this will no doubt be a fairly straightforward decision, but if you share your home with others – especially if you have a partner – then agreeing on a colour scheme could be a bit of a battle.

Pick something neutral or pastel, or even black and white, and then inject colour into your home through furniture and the ornaments and trinkets you’ve no doubt collected over the years. By doing this, it allows you to have a wider mix of colours throughout your home without things clashing too much or looking too much. It’s so simple to add kitsch décor and colour into every room, from collecting brightly coloured melamine to display around your kitchen, hanging clusters of pictures or photographs in mixed frames to your walls, to adding home-made bunting to your dining room.

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Furniture.

Vintage pieces of furniture, although gorgeous, can often come with a hefty price tag, so it’s worth checking out local car boot sales and vintage warehouses for bargain pieces. If you’re finding it hard sourcing them, don’t worry; there are ways round this with more modern pieces of furniture. Choose a well-made, solid piece of furniture such as that available through Furniture Plus and use this as your base for painting or covering in vintage fabrics that fit in with your chosen theme. For the 50s, distress the furniture using sandpaper and a white wash paint and add egg-shell blue highlights, and for the 60s and 70s think more pop art and coat furniture in bright, primary colours - but be careful not to clash too much. 

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Hopefully this will give you plenty of inspiration for giving your house a retro-inspired, kitsch makeover. Don’t forget to add plenty of your favourite trinkets and ornaments!

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