Tuesday, 27 November 2012

I Don't Know What to Buy a Baby Boy as a Christening Present

Finding a boy’s christening present can be a headache if this is one’s first present for a baby. The traditional view that boy’s gifts must be blue or feature trucks may colour the type of gift sought for. Of course there are lots of gift ideas for a christening occasion, but how does the grumpiest gift buyer avoid buying the wrong gift for a little boy?

Traditional Gift Ideas for a Baby Boy's Baptism Ceremony

One’s first thought when buying a gift for a boy’s christening, is to go the traditional route. Such gifts might be predominantly blue or silver. This issue has been discussed in my other article on buying gifts for a little girl, but similarly may comprise of a cute photograph mounted in a frame, a family christening album, christening mug, cute money box, rings or a silver spoon. Boy’s clothes or cute toys might predominantly be blue, white or green and may show the name of the boy. But why go the customary route when there are more novel gift ideas for a baby boy?

Lucky Gifts for Baby Boy

The Royal Mint provides lucky coins for baby, such as a lucky sixpence, lucky silver penny, a Britannia silver coin or a coin collector proof set. The collection changes every year and is a limited edition. Each of these gifts are guaranteed to increase in value in years to come, providing the perfect heirloom for baby boy and could even spur a lifelong hobby.

Novel Gifts for Boy’s Baptism Ceremony

Name a star gift set enables the parents to name a star after the baby. Most stars in our galaxy remain unnamed, so why not name one after him? Inside this gift box, you will information about the star, most importantly, its coordinates, plus a huge star chart. Engraved birth stones representing the month of boy’s birth could provide the ideal sparkling ornament for his room.

Personalised Gift Ideas for Boy’s Christening

Find an array or novel silver money boxes shaped like Noah’s ark, pirate ships, football boot, trains, carousels, diggers or animals to say something about boy’s personality, background or family. These money boxes look attractive in their own right and would look good on the boy’s window shelf as an ornament, perhaps alongside his aforementioned birth stone.

Personalise the boy’s music CD or picture book by having his name put into the lyrics or text. Or how about a personalised singing teddy bear? Many kiddie items can now be personalised with an engraving of his name, such as rattle, a silver dummy, cutlery, jewellery and bibs. Save his first curl or tooth within an attractive silver engraved trinket box.

Christening Gifts for Boy or Girl

The following gift ideas would suit boy or girl, such as a mounted image showing baby’s footprint or handprint. A personalised yearbook informing on the important events of the boy’s birth could provide enlightening reading once boy has come of age, as well as a personalised family tree book, bearing photos, letters and information on the boy’s surname and ancestors. Of course, a gift pack for little boy and the mum could earn the grumpiest gift buyer some extra points for thinking of mum (or for that matter, dad) too. Pampering gifts or handmade chocolates or vouchers for an experience day would be ideal for a new parent.

Hand Made Gifts for Christening of Boy

A baby shower could surprise with one or two handmade gifts for the boy. How about a cross-stitch image to commemorate this special occasion or a handmade scented christening candle bearing his name? Other ideas include gift card, hand-knitted socks, booties, hat or a hand-embossed bible bearing a personal message.

Baptism Gift Ideas for Baby Boys

Finding the right gift for a boy is not as easy as for a girl (from my experience) but there are plenty of gift ideas such as the traditional silver cutlery, framed photo, cute toys or personalised album. But you could find something a little different in the form of novel money boxes, birth stones or trinket boxes for his first tooth. Lucky coins from the Royal Mint could be the perfect heirloom of the future or Name a Star adds that surprise element to a christening ceremony. Handmade gift ideas such as scented candles or a hand-embossed bible conveys the message that extra effort had been put into the christening gift.

Still not sure what to buy? Check out further ideas on what to buy a newborn or a baby girl.

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The Headache of Finding a Baby Girl’s Christening Present

Buying a christening gift for a girl when the christening of your own child seems to have occurred in the last millennia can create a particularly grumpy gift buying occasion. Trends change as well as expectations, leaving such a grumpy gift buyer well and truly flummoxed. The question poses itself, what do you buy for a baby girl to suit a baptism ceremony? The only certainty it seems is that the gift can be pink, silver or cute. But such assumptions can be of little help when everyone else has made the same assumption and gone the same route.

Naming Ceremony Gifts

For starters, the traditional gift ideas to suit a naming ceremony of a girl may comprise any of the following: a personalised christening photo frame, a christening book, personalised christening keepsakes, such as jewellery (baby friendly, of course), pendants, bracelets, christening baby spoons, rings, cute piggy bank, silver eggcup and christening clothes such as bonnet, booties and dress. Of course, you could go the cute route and get cuddly toys such as teddy bears, pink beanie toys or animals. Better still if the toy sports the name of the baby girl.

What to Buy for a Christening

Of course, there is nothing wrong with these traditional gift ideas if no one else has replicated your idea, but why not go for something different? Your present will stand out amongst the rest and no one will suspect what a thoroughly grumpy experience you had trying to find it. The great thing about the following gift ideas is that they can be brought for either boy or girl. Here are some ideas:

Baptism Gift Ideas

Baby’s fingerprint or handprint (or how about a footprint?) mounted in a cute little frame. A fingerprint tree will enable parents to make a print of various family members, with baby’s at the top. Parents may have to apply the printing ink and conduct the printing themselves, but what a great image to put on baby’s wall? The effort will be worth it and will provide the perfect keepsake for the future. Go further with personal with a My First Tooth fairy trinket box, where baby may keep her first tooth. This box bears a cute fairy on the lid and an engraving of the baby’s name plus her date of birth.

My silver balloon, your child’s name in music CD, sings your child’s name within lyrics, stimulating baby and making the music personalised. This music experience could stimulate baby’s interest in music. Good recommendations are given from the BBC and Mother & Baby Magazine. Similarly, personalised picture books where baby’s name is the heroine of the story could stimulate baby’s interest in books in the months to come.

Personalised Baby Books for Christenings

How about a personalised birthday year book informing on the events and cultural trends of the year of baby’s birth? Important events can be associated with baby’s birth year, such as music, films, news events and funny anecdotes. The recipient will pore over such interesting snippets and make meaningful associations between the year of her birth and important cultural shifts.

Family Tree Book Gift Idea for Baptism Ceremony of Baby Girl

A family history gift book enables parent(s) to fill in important information for baby, such as pictures and letters regarding the family tree. Find out the history behind baby’s surname and discover members of the family little known or unknown about. If purchased from Getting Personal, a personal surname history certificate will be issued, helping family members make a start on their research. Once grown up, the girl can continue the research.

Gifts for Baby Girl and Mum

You could get some extra brownie points and get something for baby and mum. There are mum and baby girl gift boxes containing items for mother as well as the baby girl. In a pretty gift box you might find, memory books, photo frame, cute toy, sleepsuits as well a box of chocs for mum and/or pampering oils, toiletries and perfume. You could get a gold star if you make the selection personalised, by cherry-picking the items yourself and then having it professionally gift wrapped.

Crafty Gifts for Baby Girl

But then again, if you possess a penchant for crafts a touching poem in calligraphy against a watercolour wash within a gift frame or embroidered image bearing baby’s name or similar has to be the most unique of gifts. Handmade gifts are also worth considering if able to make your own ornaments or jewellery.

Christening Gift Idea for Baby Girl

There are lots of traditional gift ideas to suit a little girl, but could be problematic if unsure if someone else has gone the same route (which is bound to happen). The alternative is to find something novel for baby, so that your pressie will stand out against the rest. The good thing is, there are plenty of gift ideas for a girl that could suit both boy or girl, such as a family tree book, personalised music CD or book on the year of baby’s birth. Your efforts could be appreciated if getting a baby shower present for both baby and mother or if creating your own gift for baby. If still not found the ideal pressie, check out my other article giving ideas for a baby boy christening gift or what to buy a newborn baby.

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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Stress of Finding an Ideal Gift Idea for Newborn Baby

A family member or friend has just had a baby and you probably know as much about babies as the roosting habits of bats! An assumption reflex may spur you to trawl the nearest Mothercare or ToysRUs and buy some cute toys, dummies and a rattle. Such a rushed effort may not be appreciated by new mum or the baby. What are the best gifts for a newborn baby?

What Not to Get a New Born Baby

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Having a new baby puts a new perspective onto what presents to buy someone else’s new baby and, indeed, the main carer. The aforementioned baby gifts are unlikely to be of much help or appreciated. My viewpoint is rather than get curtsey, showy and useless gifts such as trinkets, ornaments or pretty photo albums, opt for useful and life-enhancing. Baby will care little for the cute teddy bears on a photoframe if he/she is in the grips of colic, hunger or thirst. Baby cares only about comfort and cuddles from a functioning mum who may or may not be in postnatal depression. So my viewpoint is, get something that will make life easier for the family and makes motherhood easier.

Gift Ideas for New Baby

So, with this in mind, what are the best gifts for a baby and mum? Well, baby can never have too many vests or babygrows. (make sure they are for newborn, unless baby is 9lbs plus), add wipes, bibs, nappies, little booties, gloves and hat to keep baby warm during trips out in the buggie. (OK, so these gifts may be cute if you want them to). Make sure no one else has brought these present ideas, but baby can never have too many vests, baby grows or nappies!

Gifts for Baby’s Sleep

Baby’s sleeping habits will become the main concern of the mum, as mum will kip when baby does, and nights can be difficult. Consider relaxing cot mobiles for baby. These are simply toys that suspend over the cot. Baby will have something to look at (little animals or figurines) in the quiet evening hours. Relaxing cot mobiles will sometimes play a little tune and project lights onto the ceiling helping baby to fall asleep.

Gift Ideas for Little Ones

Comfort is paramount to baby and parents. This makes cot blankets, cot sheets, Moses basket and baby carriers great gift ideas for infants. Baby loves to be close to mum, and a suitable baby carrier will enable mum to do things hands-free. A teething ring will give baby’s gums something to work on during the burgeoning of first teeth, which can occur as early as three months.

Consider also baby bottles and teats set, bottle steriliser, cool bag or indeed a travel bag to store baby paraphernalia. Make sure the baby travel bag is roomy and has plenty of compartments for spare nappies, a travel mat, cool bag, bibs and change of clothes.

Unusual Gift Ideas for Baby

Seldom-thought of gifts can come in very useful for new baby, such as a fly net. This fine mesh can be placed over the buggie or pushchair and keep flies and insects from baby. Baby can also nod off in the buggie in peace. Clip-on toys for a baby buggie will give something for baby to play with at whilst on the go. This might include a clip-on abacus or windmill.

Gift Ideas for Baby Girl or Baby Boy?

Really, there is little difference between the ideal gifts to get a baby boy or girl when it comes to needs. Colours and themes will impact little on baby's life. Pinks and mauves are thought to be great for girls; blues and greens for boys. Yellow, white and cream can be either, and such colours can come in very useful if unsure of the sex of the baby. Baby will care little either way, so long as the item is, soft and offers some comfort for baby.

The Best Gift for Baby Ever

Lastly, remember the parents. Mum might love reading crime novels or enjoy a pamper now and again. A mystery thriller or relaxing bath salts will convey the message that mum is not to be forgotten. New dad might appreciate a relaxing music CD to play in the car whilst driving baby around in the carseat. Such complementary gifts will make an average gift for baby into a great gift for a new family. Remember to buy a gift that says something about what you know about the parent including tastes.

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Sunday, 18 November 2012

Traditional Toy Gift Ideas for Kids in a Gadget Crazy World

That time of year has come round again, whether it is Christmas or birthdays and when it comes to gifts for kids, the world seems to have gone gadget mad. Kids apparently can no longer just sit and play cards, monopoly or dominoes. They are even loathe to use a paint brush or read a book. There is an array of computer gadget gifts for kids such as Leapster toys, Nintendoes, Netbooks, mobile phones, Gameboys and even tablets for kids. What simple toy will provide the perfect gift to keep kids amused and a taste of the traditional toy?

Creative Toys for Kids: Pressie Ideas

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I remember when the Spacehopper, jigsaws, Twister, traditional marbles and card games seemed more than enough to keep kids happy. I still believe simple hands-on toys are essential for kids’ development and...well simply practices the use or hands rather than a texting-finger. And why not go back to that bygone era? Recommended non-electronic toys include etch-a-sketch, playdough, Crayola sets, connect 4 and Scrabble.

Best Learning Toys for Kids’ Coordination

Strategic games will exercise kids’ logic and reasoning and also exercise forward thinking. Anticipating a game several steps ahead forces kids to organise their thoughts and concentration skills. Examples of such games are chess, draughts, dominoes and card games. A little poker, trumps or gym rummy never hurt anyone! Insist the kids don’t cheat play these games online! The physical version of such games forces kids to use their hands rather than a mouse. A Rubik’s cube has to be ultimate in a toy to exercise the hand muscles.

Toys to Encourage Hand to Eye Coordination in Kids

Construction toys are great for practicing creative skills and coordination. Lego, Meccarno and sticklebricks are old favourites. Get the generic box kits and kids are forced to come up with their own creations, which might be a Lego landscape or tower. Meccarno are suitable for older kids, as they require more dexterity. Build more complex structures such as suspension bridges and rockets.

Classic Toys for Children

Playhouses for girls are a great old favourite, and great designs can be found at little cost. I prefer the doll’s houses with pretty Edwardian frontages that open out so that kids can really get their heads into each room and pretend they are the residents. Or how about a pirate ship or castle for boy? Look out for interesting small parts and sound effects to enhance kids’ imaginary world. Alternative mini worlds might be a farm set or mini village.

Games for Role Play for Kids

Operation was an old favourite game for kids wanna be doctors. Utmost care is needed to place or remove organs from a plastic human body. Cluedo is a strategic game for kids where they must play detective to determine if Colonel Mustard or Miss Scarlet used a lead piping or candlestick holder to conduct the deed in whatever room.

Traditional Family Games for Holiday Season

Trivial Pursuit has to be the ultimate game to get the whole family involved. But if such games are not handy, go for the minimalist approach and play a little Charades or I Spy. Failing that, see which kid can guess which grandparent will fall asleep first on Christmas afternoon. The Holiday season will whizz past.

Classic Toys for Kids

Going back to a bygone era of toys is a good way of getting kids off the computer or latest gadget craze. Old favourites are still popular today, such as card games, dominoes, monopoly, Twister, Lego, Meccarno or role play toys such as Operation. Buying a simple toys game from a bygone era is a great alternative to the usual gadget gift for a special occasion, be it Christmas or birthday.

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Saturday, 17 November 2012

Simple Biscuit Recipe to Aid Weight Loss during the Party Season

Hosting party occasions such as birthdays or Christmas gatherings often leaves me with sweet cravings, despite the consumption of party food. How bewildering is it that simple tea and biscuits are craved for after Christmas dinner! Only trouble is, the choice of the standard biscuit leaves me underwhelmed and worrying about overdoing it with calories. Making biscuits healthier than the standard biscuit available is simple with this simple biscuit recipe.

Healthy Biscuits to Satisfy a Sweet Tooth

I am a biscuit addict, and am guilty of raiding the first shop I see to satisfy my sweet cravings. Only trouble is, I am disappointed in the biscuit choice out there. Not only do most supermarket biscuits turn to glue in the mouth, there is virtually no fibre and no nutrients, the staple being white flour and unhealthy fat. The only standard biscuits I will go for is the digestive and the hobnob. Dissatisfied, I decided to come up with my own biscuit recipe that is easy to make and provides the ideal accompaniment to a cup of tea between meals or after a party occasion. This biscuit will also fill you up for longer.

Simple Recipe for Healthy Biscuits

The following recipe is easy to follow and can easily be adapted to individual taste. The quantity will make around 15 – 20 average-sized biscuits. You will need:
  • 125gms (4.5oz) soft butter.
  • 50gms (2oz) castor sugar.
  • 175 gms (6oz) of a blend of white and whole-wheat flour.
  • 100 gms (3.5oz) mixture of porridge oats, ground almonds and wheat germ.
You can adjust the last part to include or substitute whatever you like, such as walnuts, dried fruit, sesame seeds or ground pine nuts. You can also add a pinch of cinnamon, ginger or dried orange peel if the mood takes you. Why not top them with dark chocolate or sesame seed paste?

As can be seen, the ingredients are high in fibre and protein. Wheat germ is high in B vitamins, nuts are high in unsaturated fat, and oats are high in fibre.

High Fibre Biscuits for Healthy Lifestyle

Preheat the oven to 180c (350f) Gas mark 4 (check manufacturer’s instructions for fan ovens, as this may need a lower temperature). Grease a baking tray or use parchment. Lightly dusting the surface with flour will help prevent sticking instead of using grease.

Put the butter into bowl with the dry ingredients. Rub the mixture together until it resembles breadcrumbs then keep going until the mixture starts to stick together. If too crumbly, add a few drops of milk. Sprinkle a little flour onto a clean work surface then roll out dough with rolling pin until 025in (6mm) thick. Cut to required shapes.

Bake the biscuits for 15 minutes. After 10 minutes, check that that the biscuits are not getting overdone.

Leave to cool on wire rack or grill pan (although the biscuits never have a chance to cool down.) Unused mixture can be put in the fridge (or freezer) and rolled out at a later time.

Ideas for Healthy Biscuit Recipes

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These healthy biscuits are perfect with a cup of tea and make a healthier alternative to your usual supermarket biscuit (namely coffee morning, malted-milk and rich tea). Sweet cravings after a party occasion or during the holiday season can be satisfied with biscuits that are high in fibre, protein and possesses some nourishment. But then again, why reserve these biscuits for special occasions if they can be enjoyed all year round?

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Friday, 16 November 2012

Educational Science Learning Toys for Young Boffins

Science being a core subject at school is bound to make any grumpy gift buyer grumpier. A scarcity of science toys in the home could result in the parent bearing a guilt complex for daring to deprive a potential boffin of creating mockup volcanoes or of creating an ungodly mess from a ghastly experiment. But then, there are some great science toys without such fuss that could engage even the grumpiest parent!

The Best Science Kits for Children

Science in schools means that getting kids interested in how the world works is of prime importance. The right fun science toys are certain to spur their imaginations, and help learning. But what are the best learning toys to get kids interested in science?

Ideas for Science Gifts for Children

Making science fun is possible with the right toys, even for kids who think science is boring or complicated. The secret is to enable kids to learn during play and to satisfy a curiosity. This also means conducting hands-on experiments to find the little Einstein within the least academic kid. Avoid toys that are not suited to the age group of the child, as frustration will result from a toy too advanced; similarly, disinterest could result from a science toy that is too basic.

Messy Science Toys

Of course, if unlike me, you are partial to a little mess and getting involved with sticky fingers, messy science kits are for you. Gross Science educates on the nasty aspects of the human body by making your own snot, carbuncles and producing your own burps. I may repay a fellow parent in kind who purchases such a gift for my kids!

Learning Toys for Physics

Night vision goggles cannot fail to get kids curious about night exploration. Watch nocturnal animals and how they suddenly come alive at night, like as badgers or owls, or simply wonder how it can be possible to see in the dark. A good pair of night goggles will enable kids to see up to 50 feet in the dark. Kids will rule the night with these!

Getting Kids into Astronomy

I had a telescope as a kid and was underwhelmed at the size of the moon through the viewfinder. Needless to say, it was not a powerful telescope, and put me off sky watching for years. This is why I would recommend getting a reasonably powerful telescope of at least 50mm. Skywatcher Explorer or National Geographic provide powerful telescopes for kids. A telescope that enables kids to see the further planets with reasonable clarity could spur the beginnings to a lifelong interest. A guidebook on the stars might be the perfect complimentary science gift for kids.

Toys to Teach Electronics for Kids

Learning about how electricity works is possible with an array of electronic toys which have snap-together technology. Hot Wires is one such electronic toy with great reviews. Hot Wires has up to 100 experiments to help kids learn about electricity. Make your own burglar alarm and flying disc. Learn about FM radio, record yourself and devise a lie detector. (Hmm, that could come in useful). This fab kit has an array of electrical equipment to keep kids engrossed while they learn.

Metal Detector Toys

Kids into searching for treasure may appreciate a metal detector to sweep around the garden. Some metal detectors have and LED screen to inform kids the location of the nearest metal object. I sure could have fun with that! Finding a few coins or metal artefacts could get kids to look them up on the internet to establish how old they are, and who is impressed on the front.

Science and Nature Toys

The budding horticulturist may find a vegetable growing kit fascinating, particularly the underground garden laboratory. This provides a cross-section view of the soil in a glass cube so that the roots of the plants can be seen as they grow. Such a view is not normally possible, but this kit helps kids understand how plants grow and see their anatomy in different stages of maturity. These kits are self-watering and easy to maintain.

Science Toy Gifts for Kids

Getting kids interested in science seems a requisite these days, as schools view science as a vital part of the curriculum. This means getting the right educational toy to help kids learn about the science the easy way. There are some fabulous educational science toys for kids, such as telescopes, underground garden laboratory, night goggles and electronic toys. Only trouble is, I may have a fiddle with these toys meself whilst the kids are at school.

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Thursday, 15 November 2012

Scrooge's Guide to Cheap Beauty Products for Young Girls

Before you know it, your daughter or niece is knocking on the door of adolescence and making demands for makeup products. We all know some cosmetics are not cheap, and you don't want to look a tight-arse. What is the best way of buying the best makeup for a child that matters little if it ends up down the back or the sofa or in some friend’s handbag?

Tips for Inexpensive Beauty Products for Kids

Being no stranger to buying beauty products for young female relatives in my family, I have learned a thing or two about finding the best makeup and accessories to please any young girl without breaking the bank. Firstly, you don’t have to go to the high street shop with a resigned sensation. There are other places that sell cheap makeup without compromising on quality, as I have discovered.

Places that Sell Cheap Makeup for Girls

Firstly, never compromise on quality. I never buy makeup from a market stall or from an untried outlet, no matter how miserly I am feeling. Having said that, I have known ‘reputable’ makeup brands to be of poor quality and create an allergic reaction. Some such makeup does not go on easily, requiring persistence to create a mark. Not ideal for eyes. The sensitive nature of young skin means that the makeup should be easy to apply and easy to remove (as young teens like to experiment and reapply when the mood takes them). A nice range of affordable makeup can be found in the Body Shop, Boots or Superdrug.

Eye Makeup that is Easily Removed

I buy soft eye pencils, eyeshadows and water-based mascara that have high tinting strength that can easily be applied and removed. Autumn colours or charcoal shades are popular with young girls at the moment, and such neutral colours will go with most complexions.

I also avoid heavy foundations that can clog the pores. Make sure the makeup is soft in consistency and is not difficult to remove. Kids love flavoured lipstick with a light texture. Vaseline-based lip-gloss sold in small tins is ideal for avoiding chapped lips in winter.

Foundation for Young Girls

I avoid powdery or-overly greasy concealer, and prefer the lighter quality. I will include a light moisturiser that can be applied with the foundation, to create a translucent effect for skin, rather than heavy coverage. The moisturiser should ideally be plain and unperfumed.

Cheap Cosmetics for Kids

With a nice selection of makeup for kids, I will include a small handmirror in a pretty makeup bag. It is not so imperative to find such articles in reputable establishment. I will therefore trawl the market stalls and pound shops and look for something novel. Pretty designs can be found easily. For a nice finish, a small perfume bag will not go amiss.

Cheap Cosmetic Gifts for Kids

Buying makeup and cosmetics for young girls need not be costly or complicated or make you look a miser. I simply stick to brands that easily leave a mark, and therefore are easy to remove. I avoid water-resistant makeup for young skin, as it will be difficult to remove. A nice range of autumn colours for eyeshadow and Vaseline-based lipstick will create a fresh look for young girls. A pretty makeup bag and a small handmirror can easily be found to round off the perfect gift.

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Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Air Ionisers as a Gift Idea for Health Giving Fresh Air in the Home

Many people are concerned over the air quality of the home, particularly if residing in a built up area or surrounded with household appliances, exposed to smoke, pet air, fluff, dust and such airborne particles. As one who is concerned over air quality myself, the air ioniser seems the perfect solution. When it comes to gift buying, my philosophy is, if I like it or feel I need one, this product might be the ideal gift for someone else in my position. Air purifiers, humidifiers or ionisers would certainly fit into this category.

What an Air Ioniser Does

But what is an air ioniser? Well, this neat contraption will produce negatively-charged ions that will attract dirty particles (positively-charged particles) like small vacuum cleaners. Without this attraction to these ions, such impurities such as pet dander, smoke and dust will continue to circulate freely in the air, eventually finding their way into our lungs, eyes or nose. As these particles clump together onto the negative ions, it can no longer resist gravity. Eventually, these particles fall to the floor, ready to be vacuumed up – a preferable location to the lungs!

A Gift for Healthy Lifestyle

These negative ions, or ‘anions’ bring a sense of wellbeing in the same way one would feel standing near a waterfall, sea or after a storm. You won’t have the same odour as the great outdoors, but the air will feel ‘lighter’ and fresher. According to customer reviews, the air ioniser has proved to be helpful for an array of ailments from sleeplessness and asthma to SAD and fatigue. This is why I plan on getting one myself, in conjunction with some health giving houseplants.

Gift Idea to for Asthma Sufferers in the Air Purifier

Air ionisers do not filter the air like some sort of ‘air net’, but inject an electrical charge to the molecules in the air, producing billions of these anions. These anions then circulate the air, attaching themselves to positively-charged molecules in a similar way to static electricity. This helps to create cleaner air.

Types of Air Ionizers

There are several types of air ionisers on the market, so picking the right one is vital. All work off the mains making a small noise. One type uses water, which sloshes inside a glass bulb with an ambient glow. Only by switching off the light can you see the dirt that has accumulated in the water. Cleaning is easy and worth it. Other air purifiers work by deionising the air through a ‘grille’. Each air purifier is designed to cleanse a certain volume of air (on average 5 cubic metres), so a large home owner may need two or more air ionisers for effective air cleansing.

The Best Air Ioniser

Location is important. Place in hallways or landings where air movement is more likely, so that the air ioniser is able to emit negative ions more freely in the air around the house. Regular cleaning of the filters or water will enable the ioniser to work to optimum efficiency. Prices vary wildly. The compact variety slots unobtrusively into a wall socket; some use carbon filters to rid of odours. When choosing an air purifier, factor in its energy saving ability as well as the volume of air concerned.

Gift Idea for Home Lover

Some air ionisers are designed for industrial use, such as offices or factories, which might not be suitable. If buying this gift for someone else, take into account the size of the house and that it can be placed in a suitable location. Check the colour and size, so that it would not ‘jar’ with the surroundings there is nothing worse than buying a gift for someone, only to find it consigned to its box because the recipient was unable or unwilling to use it for any reason.

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Which Health Giving Indoor Plants will Improves Air Quality in the Home?

Finding ways to reduce air pollutants in the home is a common campaign for most, and speaking from the viewpoint of one who lives on a main road, has become of prime importance. Having looked up air ionisers and air humidifiers, have come across the appealing idea of placing air freshening plants around the home. This of course would be a great gift idea for an asthma sufferer or plant lover. But which plants are best for ridding of air pollutants?

Chemicals in the Home

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The typical home contains objects that emit substances that in excess amounts can be detrimental to health, such as chemicals released from carpets, fridges, fires, ventilators, not to mention general air particles and smoke. In the cold winter months, these chemicals become confined, causing stuffy air quality. With the added problem of dust, is it any wonder breathing-related problems, headaches and dry eyes become common, particularly in the winter months?

Great Plants for Improving Air Quality in the Home

A first glance may suggest the solution to poor air quality in the home is to purchase plug in filters and air ionisers, which create negative ions – good for health and general wellbeing, but why not complement this with houseplants? I came across this idea after reading about how certain houseplants remove and break down certain toxins in the air.

Plants provide natural filters to the air by absorbing airborne chemicals and then taking them down into the leaves and roots. Such chemicals include formaldehyde and ammonia, byproducts of manmade fabrics and electrical products. Plants of course, also oxygenate and moisten the air.

Tips to Create Clean Air in the Home

Generally, plants with large leaves will have a bigger effect upon air quality. I prefer low maintenance plants that require little attention. But most such plants should be placed in partial shade, and not close to heat sources or the leaves will dry out. Different houseplants work in different ways and therefore will rid of different chemicals. This means two or three different varieties of houseplant in the home might work more effectively than just one plant type. Also try to dot the plants in equal portions around the house rather than clumped in one room. Try to include at least one in the bedroom, as we spend about a third of our lives there!

Houseplants for Healthy Air

To work most effectively, plants need appropriate care, and this means the right amount of water. Too little can be as bad as too much. Follow the instructions. Look after your plants and they will look after you. Look out for crispy leaves, brown spots and mould.

There is an array of lovely tropical plants to provide the ideal gift for someone concerned over the air quality of the home. But don’t worry if all these Latin names are confusing, virtually any tropical or flowering plant are effective removers of indoor chemicals and pollutants, but remember the’ big leaves’ part mentioned earlier.

The Best Plants for Clean Air

Spider plants and philodendron will rid of the most common chemical found in the household’s air, formaldehyde. Benzene can be broken down with English Ivy and Marginata. Gerbera daisy is an effective remover of trichloroethylene. Other houseplants to consider are: Areca palm, Boston fern, chrysanthemum, peace lily (avoid if a pet owner), Janet Craig, weeping fig, spider plant (avoid if cat owner), fig tree and rubber tree. All these attractive plants have big leaves, some flower, and most are low maintenance. I like the hardy indoor trees, as they make any living room more attractive.
Idea Gift Idea for Health Giving in the Home

A health giving indoor plant might be ideal gift for someone concerned over the air quality of the home, myself included. Living on a busy road as I do, and surrounded with chemical emitting appliances such as fires and fridges might be the antidote.

More Gift Ideas for Wellbeing

SAD lamps for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Lazy ways to lose weight over Xmas
The air ioniser as a gift idea
Experience gift days out ideas
My hobby giftshop

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Miser's Guide to Cheap Construction Gift Ideas for Kids

I often have problems finding a cheap but ideal gift for kids when money is tight. But if the child in question is a fan of construction kits that are compatible with one another, you could get a cheap gift the child would be pleased with - and you won't look a miser. All you have to do is establish if the child is a lover of Lego, K’nex, Meccano or similar. A fan of any of these would be grateful for a box kit, regardless of how small, because it can be added to their existing collection.

K’nex Pressie Ideas for Kids

K’nex is a construction toy that is rather like a plastic version of Meccano but without the nuts and bolts. This construction toy, conceived by Joel Glickman simply comprises rods, connectors and motors. The idea was originally taken from how straws can be connected to one another to create things. Their strength and flexibility could be mimicked.

Construction Gifts for Boys to Promote Creativity

Like Lego, K’nex come in numerous kits which are compatible one another, meaning that kids can create mind boggling constructions such as roller coasters, suspension bridges, theme parks, dinosaurs, Ferris wheels and motorised models. My kids use K’nex all the time, creating their own constructions, all with the simple components.

Each ‘rod’ of K’nex is colour coded according to length. Each increment is double in length, providing extra strength to the constructions. The connectors provide ‘slots’ where the ‘balls’ in the ends of each rod slot snugly into. These can be made into working parts such as wheels and pulleys. Along with small motors, K’nex can be made into an array of working structures.

Creative Construction Gifts for Girls

Lego is another safe bet, as these bricks have been around since the year dot. Every year, Lego seem to bring out more and more kits around various themes, including Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lego City, spooky castles, dungeons, dinosaurs and much more. The great thing is that each kit is compatible with the other, enabling kids to create their own themes by combining what they have. Again, my kids love Lego. Every year, the challenge of building a taller tower has been set.

Lego have bricks of novel shapes and sizes including some that light up or glow in the dark. Regardless of their oddity, they will fit into any other Lego kit. This makes Lego a great gift, regardless of how small the kit, for a Lego fanatic. Do make sure the child does not already have that particular kit. But with so many available, the giver is more likely to find a kit the child does not have.

Generic Lego for Kids

If unsure of the child’s tastes when it comes to modern culture, generic Lego bricks can be brought in box kits, enabling kids to build tall towers with windows and roofs and figures. So much can be created with Lego, even with the humble brick.

Meccano Kits for Kids

Invented by Frank Hornby, Meccano is a construction kit comprising metal strips, plates, wheels, girders, nuts, bolts and pulleys. This type of kit provides a little more challenge for the older child, and therefore may require adult assistance initially. This could make this the ideal gift for a child (and possibly parent). Kits include motorised construction boxes, racing cars, bridges, robots, ships and towers.

Cheap Gift Idea for Children to Aid Creativity

Finding a cheap gift for kids could be a nightmare if wary of buying one that is cheap in quality and people joking that mothballs are residing in your purse. However, many kids are fanatics of construction kits that are compatible with one another, notably, Lego, Meccano and K’nex to name just three. This means the giver on a small budget can get a construction kit box to add to an existing collection. Kids who love Lego for instance, could be thrilled with a box kit that creates a motorboat or helicopter. Make sure the child does not already have that particular kit before purchase, but with so many kits to choose from, the giver is more likely to find one the child does not have.

More Articles on Gift Ideas for Kids

Cheap gift ideas for boys
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Grumpy Parents' Guide to Cheap Short Breaks for Kids at Christmas

The best Christmas breaks for kids are those that include kid’s activities, leaving the grumpy parent to chill out. After the brain-withering activity of frantic present-buying, the last thing a grumpy parent needs is to get creative on arrival to think of what to do. This means a visit to Santa’s grotto, a sweet making or tasting session and perhaps a trip on a Christmassy vehicle, which might be a steam train or steam boat. And yes, a nice cream tea. Throw that in please! But where can such ideal Christmas breaks for families be found?

Short Christmas Breaks for Families with Fun Activities

A good itinerary is vital for a good Christmas trip. Yes, there are lots of ‘Christmas trips’ out there, such as a trip to a market town to do some shopping or to an historic location to do some sightseeing. But kids being kids, need constant distraction, which does not allow a minute to check out the map on arrival or asking a kind bypasser to recommend the nearest pampering spa, ahem, I mean venue for kids’ entertainment. Planning ahead is vital, but who wants to do that, if an all-in Christmas trip can be found?

Where can I Take the Kids for Fun Christmas Trips?

I checked out the sites, and found BuyaGift and Experience Days came up with some good ideas, but careful reading of what the itinerary was vital, or the day could end up with large gaps with nothing to do or worse, disappointment. I also found a few local theme parks had put together a Christmas package for kids, such as Santa’s Sleepover at Alton Towers and Santa Safari at the Safari Park. Check out your local theme park and see if they do a similar thing. I found the itinerary included a visit to see Santa (of course) plus pressie gift, a Christmas show and hot mince pies with mulled wine.

Xmas Day Trips for Kids

Some venues will deck up for Christmas activities such as Snow Dome’s Santa Winter Wonderland, which will wear kids out with their snow trail and Santa’s panto. See real reindeers within the animal village too. I found Cadbury World created interest as this included a tour of the place, a chocolate-making session and a chocolate tasting session. Good for all year round too.

Interesting Christmas Trips for Kids

I found local venues would put together a cosy Christmas experience for kids with a nice steam train trip in various locations such as the Cotswolds or the Severn Valley. The trip ended at a nice-looking grotto, a festive brass band and plenty of festive little shops to sample gingerbread men, mince pies or Christmas crafts. I found a local canal junction had prepared a Christmas barge, for kids to enjoy a cruise on the canal towards Santa’s Village, where Santa would board to applause. Kids would then visit Santa in his grotto, get a pressie and a photo. The trip would end at a nice teashop for a comfort break.

Santa Claus’ Trips for Kids

Of course, if your purse will permit such trips, you can take the kids to Lapland to experience a true winter wonderland. These trips include flight to Lapland, visit of Santa’s grotto in Santa’s Village, food, sleigh ride with real reindeers and you never know you could even get lucky and see the Northern Lights! Visit Lapland’s capital, Rovaniemi, a lively city packed with fun activities and an underground grotto made of ice. See an ice hotel, ice bar and ice sculptures! Trips range from one day to several.

Ideas for Xmas Trips to Take Children

There are lots of Christmas trips that would appear ideal for kids until the itinerary (if there is one) is checked out. A visit to a market town or sightseeing tourist attraction might not always suit hyperactive kids vying for Christmas activities, making grumpy parents grumpier. This is why I would always make sure that there is at least a visit to see Santa. Look for a Christmas panto, Christmas craft making, a comfort break and a pleasant trip in a steam train or barge. Christmas trips with a few such diversions are sure to result in a kids’ Christmas trip to remember.

More Christmas Activity Ideas for Kids

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Monday, 12 November 2012

Christmas Lego Kits for Kids: do These Toys Have Fun Value all Year Round?

The selection of Lego kits available nowadays are just mind-boggling compared to the basic Lego kits of my childhood. I was lucky to build anything but a four-walled house with a tiled roof. Now kids can build campervans, helicopters and Lego scenes with actions figures and moving parts. There are even Lego kits for Christmas. But unlike the aforementioned list, do these Xmas Lego themes have adequate fun value on other times of the year? According to Lego, Christmas can be all year round.

Lego Kits for the Holiday Season

click to buy from Amazon
You can get an array of Christmas Lego scenes such as Lego Winter Village Cottage with sleighs, snowploughs and a chainsaw for mini figure dad. (Hmm, the things I could do with a chainsaw at Christmas!).
Or how about the Winter Village Post Office with forest, fireplace, mini figures and cosy furniture? You even get a brick that lights up. Move aside Kids, I could have fund with that!

Christmas Lego Village Bakery

Kids could get inspired with the Winter Village Bakery which lights up in the dark, with horse, cart, Christmas trees and 7.5 figures! (I think the 0.5 figure is the pair of legs sticking out of the snow!) Find a baker, shoppers and kiddie figures.

Cheap Stocking Filler Christmas Lego Gifts for Kids

Want affordable Christmas Lego gifts? These can be found in the form of Lego stocking fillers which consist of simple figures from several specially-shaped Lego bricks such as Santa with sleigh, Xmas Train and Magnet Holiday Scene and even Lego Christmas baubles. What will they think of next? Edible Lego chocolates to hang from the tree would be nice! White chocolate, brown chocolate, green (mint chocolate) and red (strawberry). Methinks I will put this idea to Lego!

Christmas Lego key chains are also popular and provide ideal stocking fillers for kids. Find Santa Claus, Penguins and others.

Affordable Lego Gifts for Kids

Lego City Advent calendars provide a healthier alternative to their chocolate counterparts leading up to Christmas. Santa needs help. Open a door every day to find a mini figure or object to help get Santa out of his fix. Older kids may enjoy the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar instead. But this still begs the question of whether to buy a Christmas Lego kit for the holiday season?

Cheap Lego Gifts for Kids on the Holiday Season

Festive Lego gifts get kids in the mood for Christmas, but according to Lego can be enjoyed all year round, as these festive bricks are compatible with other kits. Christmas trees can be made into a generic forest, light up bricks can be used for any snow scene, bakeries, horse & carts and post offices can be used to create any village. Of course, the pieces can be used again every Christmas when the festive mood takes kids. My kids combine several to create their own themes. This means Christmas Lego parts can be used for other scenes. Lego has certainly come a long way since the years of my youth!

More Articles on Christmas Gifts and Holiday Events

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Saturday, 10 November 2012

SAD Lamps and Dawn Simulator as a Gift Idea for a Grumpy Git

Being a petulant Christmas gift buyer, my grumpy meter goes through the roof when daylight dwindles in winter. This, I have since discovered is due to SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, a down-in-the-dumps due to winter darkness, known in these parts as the ‘winter blues.’ I decided to get myself an SAD lamp (which mimics the effects of the rising of the sun.) Then this got me thinking, why not get a dawn simulator for someone else who suffer the same grumpiness as me? I knew of quite a few grumpy gits!

Why get Grumpy in the Winter Months?

Living in high latitudes (far north or far south) makes inhabitants vulnerable to winter depression. Symptoms include, fatigue, lack of concentration, headaches, lowered libido, carbohydrate cravings and of course, low mood. Little did I realise that sufficient daylight hitting the eyes will suppress the sleep hormone melatonin. Too little of this light will create the symptoms of seasonal depression. With a little research, I found lots of SAD lamps available to help treat this condition.

Which SAD Light Box will Work for Me?

But not every ‘day lamp’ is a proper SAD lamp. The light emitted must include the right wavelength (in that it possesses the ‘blue light spectrum’ known as blue light therapy) and it must be sufficiently bright. Light is measured in ‘lux.’ A proper SAD lamp should emit a light around of around 10,000 lux, which equals bright daylight. There are lots of products that call themselves light boxes, but are not certified medical devices. The light must of the right sort, not just from a standard bright light bulb. When to Use the SAD Light Research at the Moorfields Eye Hospital has found that exposure to ‘simulated daylight’ is most effective in the mornings, rather than any other time of day. Half an hour or so is all that is required. A gradual brightening is better than a sudden illumination. Extra top ups might be beneficial in the afternoon or evening on particularly dark days; some lightboxes simulate sunset as well as sunrise.

Types of SAD Light Therapy and Dawn Simulators for Low Mood

SAD lamps are not cheap, but are going down in price. Some come with extra features such as recorded birdsong to accompany the gradually brightening light at your bedside. Music or the traditional alarm can be used instead. Others emit smells to remind us of spring. Some are low energy or ionise the air. Mobile light boxes might suit office workers, night shift workers or those on the go.

The Ideal Gift for a Grumpy Person with Winter Blues

Light boxes made by Lumie, Apollo Golite, NatureBright or Lifemax are medically certified and specialise in making SAD lights and dawn simulators. Watch out for prices, as some are very costly. Don’t purchase one with unwanted gadget features or costly bulbs. Some SAD lamps get rather hot, so don’t place near curtains and avoid physical contact whilst in full glow. I checked out customer reviews on Amazon and found several I fancied.

Antidote for Winter Blues at Christmas

Examples of inexpensive lightboxes for SAD with mostly good reviews include, Lifemax Lightpod Portable Simulated Daylight Box; the Lumie Bodyclock Starter Wakeup Alarm Clock; Lumie Arabica SAD Lightbox and the Rio Low Energy Light Therapy Lamp. The lightbox that proclaims to be the real thing is the SAD Light Box 10,000 Lux Medically Certified SAD Light Therapy Lamp or NatureBright' Sun Touch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Light. There are certain to be new and improved models available after posting this article.

What to Get a Grumpy Person at Christmas

A grumpy SAD sufferer might be grateful for an SAD lamp to chase away the winter blues. There are lots to choose from and are going down in price. But don’t go for any ‘light box,’ as some are not medically certified. If opting for dawn simulators, prefer those that brighten up gradually. Accompanying birdsong or sweet smells might enhance the spring experience. The grumpy person will have little reason to be grumpy in the winter anymore.

More Gift Ideas for Special Occasions

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I don't know what Kindle to buy

Miser's Guide to Cheap Laptops, Home Computers and Netbooks for Kids

Getting kids ahead at school often means finding affordable laptops or Netbooks after stretching your purse beyond breaking point. Schools now have IT classes as standard, and kids who do not have access to a laptop or personal computer at home are sure to miss out. Having kids myself, I felt I had to do the same or I would suffer a guilt complex when it comes to finding the funds.

Refurbished Laptops for Kids

Cheap laptops can be found at recommended sites such as Dell, PC World or the LapTopCentre. With good reviews, these renovated laptops have simply been refurbished to work like new. Most have long warranties and voucher-offers on purchase to save money on computer accessories when required. Being refurbished, some minor scratches will be found on the laptop or the colour of the model may differ.

Guidelines for Buying Cheap Netbooks, Laptops or Personal Computers

  • Stick to a well-known brand such as Dell or Advent. The lesser-known ones might be fine, but being little tried and tested, why take the risk?
  • Look out for customer reviews. Firstly, check Amazon itself. Read the comments and the ‘helpful’ votes. Differentiate between the quality of the laptop from customer service. A one-star because of late delivery says nothing about the product. Sift out reviews that say something about the quality of the laptop itself. Next take a look at the external website such as PC world or Portable Universe. Do the two marry up?
  • If purchasing from an external supplier, check their customer service. Are they local? Is their return policy fair? Read the small print to avoid disappointments on Christmas day.
  • Make sure that all vital accessories are included in the price. Is there a portable WiFi? Does the Laptop come with a lead? Is Microsoft Word included?
  • Some refurbished laptops come with a 6 month warranty. Personally, I would go for a year. Under the Sales of Goods act, you are protected even if the laptop breaks down shortly after the warranty has run out. Find out how to complain about faulty goods on this article.
Retailer’s Policy on Damaged Computers on Delivery

I have had a look at the return’s policy of larger vendors such as Amazon and PC World. Basically, you may return any computer that is ‘dead on arrival’ or damaged on arrival for a full refund within 30 days of purchase. The retailer may test the computer to establish if the computer was damaged through misuse or transit and act accordingly. However, the aforementioned Sales of Goods act protects the customer for up to 6 years if the computer shows to be defective or inferior in quality in proportion to the price tag. Each vendor will differ, so read the small print.

Advice for Buying Second Hand Laptops

Every laptop or home computer should have basic software as standard, such as, picture library, email, decent memory capacity and word processor. Check these are included. If extra memory is needed, consider purchasing an external hard drive, although this can be inconvenient. Compare prices at MegaShopBot.

Netbook or Laptop for Kids’ Home Computing?

Netbooks have advantages over their larger laptop counterpart for kids, for the internal battery lasts longer (being a smaller device), making it more mobile. It also fits nicely on a child’s lap, and a child can easily carry it around, being lighter and smaller. However, visually-impaired kids may struggle with the small screen. Bear this in mind when making the decision.

Software for Kids’ Computers

Inevitably, extra cash will need to be spent on essential software, such as graphics, image editing, anti-viral software and file compressors. Take a look at Free Office Software for the best free downloads available online. Otherwise, shop around for the best deals in software. I found out after purchasing my kids’ Netbooks that Microsoft Word was not included. Watch out for this! Some laptops also do not have Webcam software.

How to Get Cheap Computers for Children

Computers have become essential in everyday life and school, so kids may miss out if they do not have access to a computer or laptop at home. I opted for a couple of Netbooks for my kids and managed to get some money off just before Christmas. Look out for money-off deals. Alternatively, vendors that sell renovated computers (with repute of course). Watch out for missing essential software or inadequate memory. And lastly, read the small print for their returns policy as it will not be the same as buying a brand new computer. Vigilant shopping for computers for kids will yield affordable laptops or Netbooks for kids.

More Gift Ideas for Children on Special Occasions

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Top Ten Hauntingly Spooky Thrillers to Buy an Avid Reader for Cold, Dark Nights

Wondering what thriller to buy for an avid reader this Christmas or similar winter holiday? The season of dark nights is a great time to read a really spooky mystery or a creepy psychological thriller. I buy thrillers as gifts because I love them and am prone to a sneak preview myself! My top ten recommendations in psychological thrillers and mysteries can be found below. In no particular order.

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

Tales of horror
Click to buy
from Amazon
I raced through this book in three days. The main character, disenchanted Jack goes off to the Arctic on an expedition hoping to find something more exciting than dull 1930s London. Paver’s vivid descriptions of the Northern landscape add tension to the story, like the spooky sound of the ice creaking and the dark that presses against the windows during the endless Arctic night. In isolation, Jack gradually goes mad in an old trapper’s hut that conceals a murky past. This novel makes the point; it is the silent things you have to watch out for. Ultimately, Paver forces the reader to ask whether Jack really imagined the things that fuelled his paranoia, or was it something real? A gripping and unnerving read.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

I thought this story was written at the turn of the century, as Hill cleverly convinces us this is truly an old story. Both the London smog and Norfolk’s ‘frets,’ (mists that suddenly descend over the Wash in Eastern England) are creepy and insidious, both seeming to hide something. On solicitor Arthur’s arrival in Crythin Gifford, a bleak town in Norfolk to take care of a dead woman’s affairs, we soon learn the place is haunted by a nasty spectre, a woman dressed in black. She has some unfinished business and no one will talk about her. Arthur stops at the dead woman’s abode in Eel Marsh House at the end of a causeway. His nights there are truly disturbing as he sees and hears things he dare not contemplate. The horrifying truth about the woman in black soon makes Arthur wish he had never stepped foot in the house. Glad I read the book before watching the film.

Ghost Story by Peter Straub

The ‘chowder group,’ four old friends from New York meet up to swap memories and secrets. The story starts slowly before creeping insidiously. The friends share an unspeakable secret, the image of a woman they thought dead staring out of the window of a car sinking into a muddy lake. There appears to be a connection between their collusion in her death and the mysterious death of Edward, one of the group members, apparently of fright after being swept off his feet by ‘Anne’, who isn’t what she seems. The scene, in which he does so, is brilliantly-written and highlights how one ‘in love’ does not always see the truth, which in this case, is horrifying. One by one, the friend begin to die. A creepy, mysterious tale I found unputdownable.

The Shuttered Room by Charles J Harwood

A lesser-known story telling the story of a well-to-do, cynical woman’s incarceration in an upstairs room by three captors demanding ransom money. We soon learn that she secretly ‘speaks’ people’s thoughts by their body language. This she is able to do because (in an attempt to escape) she has cut a small hole in the ceiling and spies upon what her kidnappers are doing. In deeper psychosis, her ‘itch’ to speak their thoughts becomes visual, presenting ‘toady apparitions’. Only trouble is, she is unable to locate the ‘inner voice’ or the apparition of one of her captors, but what she eventually sees within him is truly creepy. She ultimately learns in her dangerous mind games, that the dynamics are not what they seem in the group. A brilliant thriller that dares to be different.

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Set in the 1950s, a US marshall and his partner are sent to an isolated penal institute on Shutter Island where drug use, lobotomies and mental conditioning are rife within this creepy hospital. A child murderer has gone missing and it is the marshall’s assignment to find her. Cut off by a hurricane, we soon discover that nothing the patients had to say were remotely true, and more disturbingly, his partner’s trust is called into question. Nothing is what it seems. I haven’t seen the film but after reading the book, don’t feel the need to. A creepy, Gothic-style tale that pulls the rug from right beneath you.

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

A disturbing thriller about domestic abuse and OCD. The story unfolds in two timelines, which is a little confusing at first, but the story soon grips you as you see the startling comparison of the ‘normal person’ Catherine used to be before the traumatic events that befell her within a damaging and controlling relationship with Lee. And then after when her life is shattered. Some very unsettling scenes involving violence and sex abuse turn out to be vital to the storyline. The final 100 pages were spellbinding. A compelling account of what it is to be a sufferer of OCD and post traumatic stress disorder.

Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson

A story that relates on Chrissie who loses her memory every time she goes to sleep due to a mysterious and traumatic incident of her past. She is not sure who everyone is in her life, including her husband and a mysterious doctor whom she meets up with every day. To help her, she keeps a journal to remind her of the past events. Only trouble is, a creeping suspicion grows within at the true motives of the characters around her. Are they really what they claim to be? I loved some of the twists, some of which I did not see until the end. There were a few plot holes but a riveting read that took but two days.

You’re Next by Gregg Hurwitz

A gripping opener to a spellbinding crime novel that poses questions I had to know the answer to. Mike is haunted by the memory of the day he last saw his father before being dramatically abandoned at the age of 4. In a children’s home, he dreams his parents will come back, but there is more to his past than he realises, when two sinister characters keep bumping into his life. They want something from him, and it has something to do with a past he barely remembers. The ‘baddies’ were truly horrible and importantly, were believable. The scene when Mike can hear voices in his ‘baby monitor’ where his daughter sleeps upstairs sent chills up my spine. Hurwitz’ writing is dense and compelling. I will be reading more by this author!

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C Clarke

For something a little different or for Sci-Fi fans. A SF ghost story that spans deep space and a time before humans existed. A mysterious giant cylindrical shape, christened Rama, enters our solar system. Before disappearing back into deep space, a human expedition, Endeavour, headed by Norton must investigate what it is. The place seems deserted, yet we discover astounding, yet creepy things within its bowels, such as a frozen sea and weird landscapes held in place by the vessel’s centrifugal force. Bots become animated as the vessel approaches the sun. What I loved most about the story is that it poses more questions than answers, and not in an annoying way. However, don’t bother with stories two and three of the trilogy, which take the wonder and mystery away from this story. In retrospect, I would be been happy to have read this story alone.

Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

OK so this is not a psychological fiction story, as it tells a real-life survival account, but it is certainly spooky and thought-provoking. Joe and his partner Simon attempt to climb the Suila Grande, a range of mountains in the Peruvian Andes. What starts off as a routine climbing expedition turns into a nightmare when after a mishap, Joe is left suspended over a deep chasm by a rope and Simon is forced to make the horrible decision to cut. What follows is a frightening account of what it is like to be entombed within a deep chasm left for dead. Joe’s descriptions are enthralling as he experiences the edges of sanity within an alien and inhospitable world. This ice cavern seems haunted. But his haunting state of mind follows him on his punishing trudge back to the camp across the ice floes. A book that stayed with me for days.

Gift Ideas for a Book Lover

I love curling up on a cold, dark evening to read a gripping psychological thriller or spooky tale that will stay with me for days. I often buy such books as gifts to reflect my book preference. But finding the right psychological thriller or spooky mystery to suit is not always easy when there is so much choice out there. My personal book recommendations may help, but of course, tastes will differ.

More Gift Ideas for Holidays

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Friday, 9 November 2012

Scrooge's Guide to Electrical Accessories for Laptops, Iphones, Digital Cameras and Kindles for Gifts

In this gadget era, it is difficult to find a cheap present that will not reek of a grumpy gift-buying experience and a small purse. Rather than spend lots of money on a new mobile phone or laptop for someone special, why not get a useful accessory to compliment the main gift if someone else can afford to purchase it?

Accessorise for Computers and Smart Phones

If a family member or group of gift-buyers have decided to club together to buy an expensive gift for someone without your knowledge (due to being a grumpy gift-buyer) why stump for cheap toiletries or socks, if a useful accessory will enhance the receiver’s experience of the main gift? There are loads of affordable electrical goods that will come in useful for a home computer, Ipad, digital camera or Kindle.

For starters, a horn amplifier can be used to amplify music or chat by around 16 decibels when wired up to an Iphone, enabling you to keep your hands free. Cheap Gadget Gifts for Computers and Laptops Keyboard cases for the Ipad will transform this giant screen into a laptop, without having to fork out the money to buy one. It has blue-tooth and can be used wired or wirelessly. This useful keyboard will clip onto the Ipad and go into standby when not in use. Great for touch-typists of those not keen on touch screens, such as me.

A compact laptop-tidy to store odds and ends associated with your laptop including USB flash memory sticks, mouse, earphones, wipes and Ethernet cable will keep your mobile home computer tidy and organised.

Silly USB Flash Memory Sticks for Computers

Novelty USB memory sticks yields extra fun to a memory stick. There are loads of funny and novel memory sticks to be had, such as Top Gear’s The Stig memory stick, a Teddy Bear Memory stick, or those that look like food, including roast pork or fortune cookies; animals, such as a humping dog, sheep, gorillas or pandas; flash drives that resemble body parts such as a finger or a willy and many more.

Ideal Electrical Accessory Gifts for Digital Cameras

A photo slide and negative scanner for Iphone or digital camera will enable the receiver to keep a record of visual memories saved on an old format such as 35mm negatives, slides or old Polaroids sized 4x6in and 5x7in. Rediscover old photos and keep in a digital picture file. Imagine finding old images and then being able to share them on Facebook?

Music for the Car Gifts

How about a car music transmitter? This handy car gadget will transmit music and other audio from your Iphone, Ipod or any mobile phone through a 3.5mm jack via your car stereo. It will fit into the cigarette lighter of your car and play music stored in the aforementioned devices. Also has use of a port for charging, makes calls hands-free too.

Another useful gadget for the car is a Nav Mat where the Sat Nav rests rather than having to attach it to the windscreen. This Nav Mat is anti-slip as it has a suction cup. It will remain stable during car journeys and can easily be transferred between vehicles. Police actually recommend it as an anti-theft device as it takes away any evidence of a Sat Nav being present in the car.

Retro Gifts for the Mobile Phone

Those averse to the mobile phone may like to go back to the old-fashioned handset experience. Plug in this old fashioned earpiece into your Iphone to experience the traditional way of communicating, i.e. by talking into a mouthpiece and listening through the earpiece. A very retro experience for those stuck in the past!

Doro Experience for Technophobes

The Doro Experience for Iphones, computers and Ipads might be the ideal gift for people who hate the complicated look of computer screens, Ipads and Android Tablets. This software could be ideal for the young, old, the visually impaired and the technophobe.

This ingenious gadget filters off irrelevant information and simplifies what is displayed into simple elements. Download this software in order to see simple icons and less clutter on your screen, making emailing, surfing and playing games easier for the easily-confused. Can be tailored to suit!

Kindle and Ereader Accessory Gift Ideas

The avid Kindle reader may appreciate a really tiny booklight for Ereader. This LED booklight will clip onto any Ereader so that you can read in the dark. It rotates and is compact for long journeys. Similarly the ultra bright eyelight might come in useful as a desk light when working on paperwork or near on a computer. Of course, Kindle cases, rechargers, screen protectors and styluses can be purchased too.

Cheap Electrical Accessories for Gift Ideas

Why allow your purse to take an unexpected purgation due to a costly laptop or Ipad if you can save face with a useful less expensive accessory to compliment the main gift? Funny USB flash drives, laptop tidies or photo/slide scanners are sure to come in useful when the lucky recipient opens the pressie during the special occasion, and you will look good too!

More Electrical Gift Ideas and Others

Kindle Gift Ideas
Football gift ideas
Gadget gift ideas for work
Funny Gifts for a man