How Much Weight is Safe to Lose in a Week?

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

When you decide to embark on a weight loss plan, it’s understandable that you’re going to want to see results, and fast. Despite that, it’s worth bearing in mind that your general health needs to be your top priority.

Crash dieting has many disadvantages, not least that it’s totally against the whole point of dieting, because you’ll put any weight you lose straight back on as soon as you start eating normally. Your body has a habit of thinking it’s going to be starved you see, and it grabs onto any sustenance it can, it’s clever like that.

What you can lose, and what you should lose, are two very different things.

Always go towards the what you should lose side, and avoid the dark side of crash diets.

So, let’s answer the question – how much weight is safe to lose in a week?

Well, you can theoretically lose up to three or four pounds easily when you start a diet, especially if you’re larger to start with, as this is where the most dramatic losses are. Having said that, for a safe weight loss, which you can easily keep off, look towards one or two pounds per week.

This is very realistic too, which means you don’t have to suffer whilst trying to reach this target.

Obviously this all depends on the person, their lifestyle, and their weight to begin with, after all, everyone is different. Extreme weight loss will only lead to feeling disheartened when it appears back on the scales very quickly.

You might be feeling a bit ‘what is the point?’ about it all having read this, but bear in mind this simple fact – the decision to lose weight has to be a lifestyle change, not a fad thing that you do for a few weeks, and then go back to eating chips. I feel very able to discuss this fact because I have successfully lost four stones in weight over the last couple of years, and managed to keep it off. I am always having to watch what I eat, but I know now the ways to manage it, by having a treat, and then being good for a few days. It’s an adjustment, but it can be done

Of course, exercise is the major big help, because if you are naughty and fall off the diet bandwagon, exercise will put it right, and make you feel great as well.

So, in answer to the big question – 1 or 2 pounds is your aim.

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

Five European Countries You Might Not Have Heard Of

Photo Credit: Free HDR & Photomanipulations - www.freestock.ca via photopin cc

Europe is huge, and you might think you know the countries that make it up, but you will probably be mistaken. We’re not just talking about the UK, Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Germany etc, etc, because there are many smaller countries which don’t tend to hit the headlines or stay on the tourist radar too much, but have just as much to offer as the big hitters on the continent.

These are five European countries you might not even know exist.

Guernsey

There is a bone of contention over who Guernsey actually belongs to, as they are currently seeking independence, but basically, Guernsey sits in the English Channel, and is closer to France than England, just off the coast of Normandy. Despite this, it is generally considered part of the UK for the time being. Quaint, stunningly beautiful and totally natural, Guernsey is a perfect choice for anyone who wants relaxation in a picturesque setting.

Liechtenstein

Sandwiched between Austria and Switzerland, you can imagine the kind of alpine postcard setting you’re going to get here. A fantastic choice for a winter break, simply because of its close proximity to the Alps if nothing else, Liechtenstein is also a very popular country due to it being basically a tax haven for the rather wealthy. Vaduz, the capital, is a good day trip visit too, for a spot of architecture and of course, shopping.

Andorra

I had heard of Andorra, but when I looked at the map, it was in a totally different part of Europe to where I thought it was! Sitting in the eastern Pyrenees, between Spain and France, Andorra has the popular status of being a good go-to for cheap alcohol and cigarettes, so you can imagine that there are many day-trippers that head into the country. Again, this is winter sports destination, because of its mountainous setting, and is a popular place amongst walkers.

Kosovo

One of the newest of the European countries, Kosovo is a country with a lot to offer, from skiing in Brezovica, to city day tripping in Pristina, history, culture, and shopping. Situated in the Balkans, making it another popular winter destination, Kosovo is a lot more tourist friendly than you might at first think.

Montenegro

And finally we have Montenegro, sitting on the Adriatic coast, and offering an outdoorsy experience for anyone who visits. Picturesque fishing villages, pretty beaches, lots of walking trails in the mountains, skiing … the list goes on.

If you’re wanting to visit Europe, or even travel around, grab a map and really study it; it’s often the smaller, hidden away regions that have the most to offer.

Photo Credit: Free HDR & Photomanipulations – www.freestock.ca via photopin cc

6 Baby Blue Fondant Cake Ideas

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2015-09-28_2237Fondant icing is every cake maker’s best friend. Easy to work with and available in a bewildering range of colours, it’s easy to make any cake look extra special. For those making a cake for a child’s birthday baby blue fondant icing opens up a world of inspiration, and it’s not just for the boys.

This cute little baby shower cake uses baby blue fondant icing for a traditional ‘it’s a boy’ motif. The embossed pattern on the icing can be achieved by using a lace pattern mould with some white fondant and then carefully sticking them into place using some cooled, boiled water.

The pair of booties that top the cake are a nice touch and can be made simply enough by cutting out the relevant shapes of the sole and uppers and gluing together with water.

This cake uses baby blue fondant icing to create an adorable teddy bear peeking out of the cake. Although you could make the whole topper from fondant, it’s a better idea to make a round cake for the bear’s head and then cover it with the icing. That way you get more cake to enjoy.

 You can leave the icing smooth or if you want to create a fur-like finish you could gently stipple the surface with a wire brush.

4Baby blue fondant icing also works well for a girl’s cake. After all Cinderella’s dress was just this shade, and how many girls love Cinderella? The fondant frills and butterflies that adorn this cake really give it a sense of movement and delicacy.

The butterflies are simple enough. Just use a butterfly cutter to press out the fondant icing then transfer each into an empty egg carton. Leave them into harden and then the wings will be fixed in position making it look as though they’re just about to take flight.

This cake has been modelled on Elsa from Frozen, but the cake itself is the bell shaped part of her dress. The topper is a plastic doll resting on top. To make the actual cake you would need to make a standard round cake and then a spherical one. Cut the spherical cake in half and sandwich it to the circular cake using buttercream and jam. This will give you the bell shape.

Cover your whole cake in baby blue fondant icing and then add extra fullness to Elsa’s skirt with more fondant – roll out enough to cover the cake again as this equates to the right amount when you start folding, to make it look like fabric.

2Who doesn’t love Peter Rabbit? Beatrix Potter’s loveable character is equally as popular with little boys and girls and is a classic choice for christening cakes, as seen here, as well as birthday cakes. A simple square sponge cake forms the basic for this beautiful cake, which is brought to life with baby blue fondant icing.

Make the Peter Rabbit inspired figure using celebration fondant icing. Make the basic shape with a head and body and then add feet, ears, tails, arms, jacket and eyes. Once happy with your shape, paint all the details with food colouring paste. The frill detail on the bottom of the cake may look difficult but it’s actually surprisingly easy to achieve using a ribbon cutter and it’s a technique you’ll use again and again.

Baby blue fondant icing is used to great effect on this adorable elephant cake. Having the bunting, balloon and alphabet blocks all in the same shade pulls the cake together and gives a professional look. Of course the thing that makes this cake its wow factor is the floating balloon. What is this gravity-defying baking trickery? Wire pushed into both the blue fondant balloon and the cute, chunky elephant.

Alphabet blocks are a fantastic way to add interest and a name. Just bake as many mini square cakes as you need then cover in baby blue fondant icing and add letters and detail in a contrasting colour from your palette.

Fancy trying your hand at creating one of these lovely cakes? Then stock up on your Renshaw baby blue fondant icing and whilst you’re at it, take a look at the other beautiful fondant colours Renshaw Baking offer.

Testing the Waters: Ways to Practice Investing in the Stock Market

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If you’re looking for ways to improve your finances with the hopes of becoming financially independent, you’ve probably heard about investing in stocks. However, if you’ve ever watched the news or checked the stock market sites, all the numbers, graphs, and terminology likely scared you away from investing. Though investing in the stock market does require a great deal of understanding and skill, it may not be as challenging as you imagine.

For those who want to figure out for sure whether the stock market is a form of investing that they want to pursue, the risks of investing hard-earned cash on a trial and error basis can seem scary. The good news, however, is that if you’re really interested in learning more about stock trading but don’t have much to invest, there are ways in which you can practice before putting your hard-earned income on the line. Below are a few options you might consider.

1.Practice Portfolios Through Financial Sites

There are major financial websites that offer interested parties the option to create a stock market portfolio free of charge. The services allow you to set up a portfolio and practice investing in stocks. You are then able to monitor your selections to see whether you’re headed in the right direction or not. This will give you the chance to see where your money would have gone had you chosen certain stocks. You can utilize this form of portfolio as long as you’d like until you’re ready to start trading for real.

2.Broker Virtual Accounts

If you’d prefer to be a bit more involved in the active process of stock market trading, there are online brokers who provide virtual trading accounts for you. Again, there is no real money involved, as the broker will allow you to set up an account with a simulated balance. As a user, you are allowed to use the trading tools provided by the broker to make trades. Virtual broker accounts give you the ability to learn more about how a broker account would work and also give you a better idea of how to develop a trading strategy that works best for you.

3.Stock Trading Games

If you’d like a bit more feedback on your trading tactics, participating in a stock market game or contest online might be more up your alley. This allows you to receive feedback and interact with interested parties on your selection of stocks and the strategies you’ve used. Not only do users get to see what you’re doing as it pertains to trading stocks, but you’re also able to see how others are trading so you can compare your choices and results. If you’ve got a few friends that are also looking to learn more about the stock market, you could create your own stock market game online and invite them to join.

4.Practice Live

Lastly, there is the option to consider practicing investing your own money into the stock exchange. Instead of investing thousands of dollars in the beginning, start with just a few hundred dollars instead. Since it is your money you’ll be investing, you do still want to keep an eye on the trends and have a basic understanding of stock trading. Keeping an eye on reports of popular stocks such as this one posted for Twitter stocks, would let you know whether it’s worth investing in or not. If, in a short period of time (let’s say three to six months), you were able to make money from the trades you’ve made, then you can consider investing more.

So before you determine whether the stock market is right for you, consider giving it a test run to see how you do. It goes without saying that sometimes things are a lot harder than they appear to be. Once you get the hang of it and have been trading for a while (through free or low cost methods), then you can make a more informed decision on whether or not this is an investment practice you want to continue.

Photo Credit: Dave Dugdale