Monday, 14 November 2016

YOUR STARS FOR NOVEMBER!

Skye Tanberry has been gazing consulting the stars again to see what predictions your zodiac sign has in store for the month ahead...

SCORPIO (24 Oct - 22 Nov)
This is a mixed up month for you... but though things seem confusing, things are actually changing in a positive way. Don't panic... trust to fate and allow yourself to go with the flow. New opportunities are opening up for you.

SAGITTARIUS (23 Nov - 21 Dec)
Before the year closes, it's time to step back from one particular relationship that has been pulling you down for a while. It's time to protect yourself - and you'll find that new friendships appear to fill the space, as if by magic.

CAPRICORN (22 Dec - 19 Jan)
Arghhh... this month it may feel as if you're rolling backwards instead of moving forwards, and everything you do seems to be misunderstood. This phase will pass, promise - focus on getting practical tasks done and the mood will soon shift.

AQUARIUS (20 Jan - 18 Feb)
Anxiety is stopping you from getting the most from life this month. Work out just what you're so scared of and why - and refuse to let irrational fears hold you back. Tackle this now and 2017 will be a time of real positivity and opportunity.

PISCES (19 Feb - 20 Mar)
Money may be tight right now, and with Christmas looming, that's not good news. Use your creativity to plan personal, individual presents for those you love - whether home made or shoestring cheap, they will mean way more than fancy shop bought gifts.

ARIES (21 Mar - 19 Apr)
This month is a turning point for you... you are at a crossroads, and if you choose wisely, 2017 may be your most exciting year yet. Travel, study and friendships are all looking a whole lot brighter than they have been, too!

TAURUS (20 Apr - 20 May)
The air is sizzling with positive energy for you right now... school work is going well and if you have a special hobby, that seems to be opening up new chances and challenges too. Don't lose sight of your gentle, giving side... a kindness given to others will have its own reward.

GEMINI (21 May - 21 June)
This has not been an easy year, but this spell of painful lessons is drawing to a close. Take some time to think about the future and focus your energy on what you want from the year ahead... what you focus on will come to you, in one form or another.

CANCER (22 June - 22 July)
Why wait until the New Year for a fresh start? Things are changing for you right now, and the stars are making the path forward clear. Whether it's a new friendship, a romance or a dream opportunity, grab it with both hands... things are looking good!

LEO (23 July - 23 Aug)
To change your life you need to change the way you are thinking... unless you do, you will remain stuck in the same stale situations that have been holding you back all year. One small shift in how you handle the stress life throws at you can make a huge difference... you hold the power to change things in your own hands.

VIRGO (24 Aug - 22 Sept)
You've had a tough few months, but your fortunes are changing - and just in time for the festive season, too! Stay strong and ride out the last few storms... a whole bunch of fun, success and prosperity are on their way to you!

LIBRA ( 23 Sept - 23 Oct)
Ooh... romance is on the cards! OK, it's too early to go hunting for the mistletoe, but you're attracting some very positive vibes right now. Start planning your December social life now, because trust me, it's going to be BUSY!

Cathy says:
Hmm, I can't decide if my horoscope prediction is good or bad this month - a bit of both, I think! Does YOUR star sign ring true this month? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 11 November 2016

HOLLIE: BEST BISCUITS EVER!

Reader Hollie has been baking again... and the results are stunning! Follow her instructions and make some cookie magic of your own!

Hollie says:
These biscuits are fun to make and so effective... and they taste just as good as they look!


You will need:
250g/ 9oz plain flour (extra if the dough is too wet... mine was to begin with!)
200g/ 7oz cold butter, cut into cubes
100g/ 3 ½ oz icing sugar, sifted
2 free range egg yolks, beaten
Raspberry jam
Lemon curd
Chocolate ganache (we made our own by melting milk chocolate with double cream, but you can also buy it ready made if you're not sure of how to make from scratch!)

Method:
- Put the flour, butter and icing sugar into a bowl and rub the butter into the flour  and sugar until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg yolks and mix until a dough forms.
- Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out on a floured surface, and use cookie cutters to cut whatever shapes you fancy. We halved the dough and cut half with holes in the centre so we could make 'jammy dodger' style cookies! We used cookie cutters to make the holes various shapes... circles, stars, crescents and hearts!
- Place all of the dough shapes onto baking parchment on a baking sheet and bake at 170c for 14 minutes until cooked through.
- Place cookie shapes on a wire rack to cool.
- Assemble the biscuits. Spread jam, lemon curd or chocolate ganache in the middle of the 'whole' biscuit shapes, and sandwich by placing one with a hole on top.

Simple as that!

Cathy says:
I have never had much success with baking biscuits, but these look SO good I am going to have a go! Do YOU have a favourite sweet treat recipe or are you a kitchen disaster? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Friday, 4 November 2016

ABBIE: I TRAVELLED TO INDIA TO HELP STAMP OUT RABIES!

Newly qualified vet nurse Abbie has just returned from two weeks in India with the charity MISSION RABIES... she tells us why she went and what it was like!

Abbie says:
I was a third year vet student when I started looking into charity projects to volunteer for, and I cam across Mission Rabies, which is part of The World Vet Service group. I wanted to combine my vet nurse skills and love of animals with travel and learning about another culture. Mission Rabies works in places like India to help try to stamp out rabies... it's a disease which affects not just dogs but people, and 99% of cases in humans are passed on by dog bites. So working to eradicate rabies in dogs also hugely benefits the local people, and as well as vaccinating dogs we hand out information leaflets to raise awareness. I had to raise a donation fee and a participation fee in order to take part in the project - this covered the cost of the vaccines and materials, and of our accomodation and food while there. I ran a Just Giving page for three months to raise the funds, had all my innoculations and paid for my own flight out to India.

It was a bit of a culture shock - the climate was so humid and it was a big change in diet and energy levels. We were walking up to 40km every day, which was hard work! We got up at 5.30am every day and packed up boxes of needles, syringes, vaccines and paint - after vaccinating a dog, we would paint a red mark on their head to show they had been treated. I worked in a team with a Dog's Trust worker called Amy and a newly qualified vet from Nepal called Samir, and a group of local guys who acted as 'catchers' to catch the dogs in big nets. Working with scared or aggressive dogs was a challenge and dealing with people who had different cultural beliefs and a different language was also hard at times. For example, sometimes we'd be explaining that you don't need to hit a dog to get it to do something, and that skin conditions and injuries need to be treated.

There were many street dogs and strays, sometimes in a very poor condition, although some were living in a happy and sustainable way. Really sick dogs were always taken back to the centre to be helped. The World Vet Service also run schemes to neuter dogs, which is great as well. It's easy to fall in love with a street dog and want to rescue it, but as a vet nurse I know we have so many unwanted dogs here in the UK and importing more just adds to the problem. It's better to work with those animals in their own environment. The Mission rabies scheme aims to stamp out rabies in the next few years, and it was great to think that we were helping in that. We had fun too... we saw some amazing sights, ate great food in local cafes and learned so much about the Indian culture. The tea was really strange - strong, sweet and syrupy! It was an unforgettable experience... I will never regret it.

You can find out more about MISSION RABIES here.

To home an unwanted dog in the UK, check out DOG'S TRUST.

Cathy says:
This is a brilliant and inspiring story... well done Abbie! Have YOU ever thought of working with animals? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

BOOK CLUB: COOL READS FOR NOVEMBER...

In this first of a new series, readers share their reviews of favourite books for when you've read everything CC linked and need something a little bit different...


Katie says:
PRETTY BAD THINGS by CJ Skuse was my fave summer read this year because it was hot! American teenagers rob candy stores to get the attention of their father... teens can be rebellious and attention-seeking, but twins Paisley and Beau take things to a whole new level. I loved the pace of this book - the action never stops and you learn things about the main characters while they're running. Yes, it's shoplifting, but shoplifting candy... they just have to be very, very careful! PRETTY BAD THINGS is quite YA (so for older teens) but underneath the carefully laid plan there is fun, drama, family and crime. It's CHERUB, but more dangerous. And with candy. It was a great summer read as the sun beats down on Paisley and Beau while they're on their adventure, but it would also be a perfect book for autumn... perfect for any time, in fact!

Billie-Jo says:
FLAWED is my current favourite book, and Cecelia Ahern is a new author for me. She writes for adults but this is her first YA book I think. I don't read fantasy usually but I do like dystopia, and that is where this book fits when it comes to genre - heroine Celestine lives in a society where everyone is expected to be perfect, and where mistakes can be punished by branding - literally - the person as 'flawed'. Flawed citizens have fewer rights and are shunned by the rest of society. When privileged Celestine, with her perfect family and perfect boyfriend, helps an elderly flawed man who has taken ill, she finds herself in trouble; almost at once, her fortunes turn and she herself becomes flawed. Is compassion really a crime? Celestine finds herself at the centre of a movement for change, and she herself changes and grows in character. I loved FLAWED because it made me think, and it was believable. It moved fast and I could identify with Celestine's feelings. The book is the first in a two part series and I cannot wait for part two, coming next year. I've lent this book to two of my friends and they both loved it!

Cathy says:
Two excellent picks... I've already read PRETTY BAD THINGS and enjoyed it, and Billie-Jo's review of FLAWED made me buy the book. I'm halfway through and totally hooked! What is YOUR fave book right now? COMMENT BELOW to tell all, or email/message me if you're interested in reviewing for this series!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

AUTUMN DAZE...

Readers share their fave things about autumn... and what they're not so keen on! 

Jessica says:
I love running through the autumn leaves, but I'm not so keen on the cold when I am waiting for the school bus every morning!

Holly says:
Fave thing about autumn? The fact that it's my birthday!

Jassie says:
Bonfires and tidying up the garden are good, but also better plots on the TV soaps! Strange but true!

Amanda says:
I love curling up under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book on a rainy autumn day. When it's dry, I like to go out for a walk to see the autumn colours!

Jessica says:
Yes, Red and orange leaves against a grey sky, and a good book on a rainy day!

Sophie says:
I like snuggling up with hot chocolate and reading as well, or maybe watching a scary Hallowe'en film. I like pulling on a wooly hat and going for an autumn walk, too! I don't like the shorter days and the way it gets dark so early, though... it's depressing.

Violet says:
I like the fact that my cats start growing their winter coats and are extra fluffy! I also like wrapping up in a duvet, drinking hot chocolate and eating hearty meals. Comfort at its finest!

Deborah says:
It's the season I was born in, so I always feel like it's my season! I love the warm atmosphere that autumn gives and the colours of the trees. I also love the treats that we associate with autumn, like apple pie!

Katie says:
It's culturally acceptable to stay inside and read all day once the weather turns a bit iffy. Perfect!

Cheryl says:
Best things about autumn... golden leaves, chilly mornings, cosy nights, jumpers, pumpkin farms, wild seas, Hallowe'en! The worst thing? That it doesn't last longer!

Joanne says: The leaves, conkers, hot chocolate, Hallowe'en!

Lucie says:
The smell of bonfires and that gunpowder smell from fireworks... and the colours of the leaves... I love all that. I don't even mind the rain or the cold. The thing I don't like is how everything moves indoors again after the freedom of the summer... although that has it's compensations. Onesies and hot chocolate and curling up with a good book!

Thanks to blogger Kym for the fab autumn leaves photos!

Cathy says:
I love each season of the year and autumn definitely has a beauty all of its own... this year, for me, the beauty has been tinged with sadness but I am glad for that beauty all the same. What do YOU like best about autumn? COMMENT BELOW to tell all!