Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Homemade Christmas

It has become a bit of a family tradition of ours to make some of our own Christmas decorations each year to decorate our home with.

Each week we make 1 or 2 more items to hang around the living room. This activity gives both me and my children such pleasure. It is a team effort, yet each child gets an individual part to play, which allows them to really show off their personalities and creativity.

Here I show you what we have made so far.

Paper Chains: These are the pre-made, lick to stick kinds, as, well who has the time or patience to sit there and cut out 300 odd strips of paper to glue together? Certainly not me! Ours were purchased from Baker Ross this year.

Nativity Bunting: We all know the story, and although we are not a religious family, I do think it's important for my children to grow up knowing the story of Christmas. Here is a small video clip showing our Nativity in all of it's Sunglasses-clad-Joseph glory! (in my defense, I did say that these activities were insights into the kids personalities!!) This was also purchased from Baker Ross.

Family Hand Print Christmas Tree: This one gets bigger and better with each year! It's amazing to see how much their little hands have grown! (it also includes Mum and Dad's hand prints)

Patterned Stars: These cute stars were taken from the amazing Kate, at Picklebums.
You can find the instructions here.

Snowflake Stars: I love how simple yet effective these are! We have made them for a few years now, in varying sizes, patterns, colours and papers.  They are quite difficult to explain how to make, yet, Jessica at How about Orange seems to manage it with ease, and also provides a very handy print out (here), so you don't even have to make the template  yourself! 

I will endeavor to add another post next week with the rest of our handiwork that we have yet to add to our Christmassy collection, including the children sewing and decorating their own stockings!

What do you think? Do you make your own decorations?

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

2013 Top 10 British Made Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids

Remember when Britain was known for its iconic toy manufacturers? Many people will have fond memories of brands such as Kiddicraft, Meccano or Tri-ang and who can forget Hornby model trains? 

Sadly, times have changed and toy manufacturing is no longer the British domain; many companies have moved overseas to places like China, where production costs are cheaper.

However, all is not lost. There are many British companies making high quality, unique toys that will stand the test of times and defy the latest fashions and trends. So why not make this Christmas a truly British Christmas, and celebrate by buying from some of the best independent, British toy manufactures around.

Here’s a list of the top ten must-have British made products this Christmas.

2013 Top 10 British Made Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids(alphabetically)

  1.  BOX4BLOX  –  this award winning invention that sorts and stores kids Lego bricks makes great gift for Lego lovers. Made in Port Talbot, Wales BOX4BLOX is sold exclusively online, throughwww.box4blox.com andwww.amazon.co.uk    

  2.  Button Bag  - manufacturers of lovely craft kits containing everything you need from: from sewing kits , needles, stuffing etc. to finish each individual item.    Go towww.buttonbag.co.uk to purchase on line or find a retailer near you     

  3.  Crafty Ponies Craft KitsBased in Yorkshire, this family run business designs and produces award winning craft kits to make a gorgeous and realistic soft toy ponies and all their tack and equipment.   Go to the Crafty Ponies web site at www.craftyponies.co.ukto purchase online

  4.  Dice Maestro – manufacturers of specialty dice and card games, including their award winning Jurassic Wars board game.  For more info go to www.dicemaestro.co.uk 

  5.  Doodlewiz Lunch Box – Exeter based manufacturers of the Doodlewiz Lunch Box.  This sustainable and versatile product is designed to inspire creativity through the art of doodling.   Click here to visit their web site www.doodlewiz.co.uk 

6.   Just4kidz – specialty children’s furnitureThis Cheshire based specialty furniture company manufactures one the finest range of children's furniture available today.  For further information please visit thewww.just4kidz.co.nz website, where you can order your custom furniture online

7.   MerryThought – one of our most traditional toy manufacturers,  located in Shropshire, Merrythought is a family business that has been making handmade traditional teddy bears since 1930.  Visit their web site here for more informationwww.merrythought.co.uk

8.    Orchard Toys – manufacturers of educational games and puzzles, Norfolk based company that is likely the largest remaining UK based toy manufacturer in Britain.   To order, please visit their web site at www.orchardtoys.com to purchase online or find a store near you.

9.    Suffolk Playworks – award winner in the “The Good Toy Guide”,  Suffolk Playworks are the based in Ipswich and are manufacturers of  some of the best wooden play equipment in the UK. To view their great range of products and to order direct please visit their web site atwww.playworks.co.uk

10.   WEAMO Furniture  -  this UK based furniture manufacturer specialise in designing a range of extremely high quality contemporary children's furniture.  For further information regarding Weamo Furniture please visit their web site atwww.weamofurniture.co.uk

Monday, 2 December 2013

November Favourites!

So November came and went and left some lasting memories for my family.
Here are my favourites!

Organised Mum

If you have never heard of Organised Mum then you are in for a treat! I love their products and have been purchasing their Family Weekly Planner every year since I became a mother of 4! Seriously, this is the only calendar I can find that allows sufficient space for all 6 of us! I also love their Family Life Book Diary. I have just ordered mine for 2014!


Another fab company, Vistaprint  allows you to do all kinds of things for great prices! I ordered my wedding stationary from here, as well as my blog logo'd tote bag, pen, notepad, and business cards for when I am attending events and conferences.
I have just made up and ordered some gorgeous post card sized photo flip books which are adorable and make great little gifts for friends and family at Christmas time!

French Bread

I don't eat bread. Well, not usually. However I do make an exception for French Bread. Not just your everyday crusty baguette, nope, it absolutely, positively, has to be made with French flour. Amazballs.

Flavoured Coffee

This also made an appearance in my October Favourites, but this time it's Nescafe's Irish Cream Latte that has been doing it for me.
Gorgeous, smooth and creamy. It's a must try!

Ed'sEasy Diner

Hubby and I had a rare night away from the kids, so we decided to treat ourselves to a spot of lunch at
Ed's Easy Diner in Norwich.
This place is fab! Great staff, great service, great food, *AMAZING* Ice cream Shakes!
The decor is fantastic and makes you feel like you are in the movie Grease! The miniature duke boxes on the tables are a nice touch with your 20p per song selection going to charity.

Lauryn's 10th Birthday

Yep, I am now officially a mother of a 10 year old. How the heck did that happen?!
Laser Tag followed by Pizza Hut. What a wonderful day.


Remember, remember the 5th of November? Yep, me too! We celebrated with friends at our local Scout Hut which put on not one, but two beautiful displays.

What has been your favourite thing about November?

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Science and Faith

Sunday 10th November 2013 was the day that my gorgeous littlest niece, Lily was Christened.

She donned the beautiful silk and lace gown, and everyone dressed up and went along to the Church to see her blessing. It was beautiful. 

Two of my younger sisters became Lily's Godparents, and there were smiles all round.

There was however, awkwardness, and tension, on my part. You see, as much as I loved seeing my baby niece, and indeed all of my other nieces, nephews, brother and sisters be Christened, I myself don't believe. 

My husband and I are not believers of God, and are not religious in the slightest. We encourage our four children (whom had a naming ceremony, and were appointed 'Guardians') to be open, and respectful to all, and we have always made them aware that whatever they do or believe in, in life, that that is fine with us and that we will support them. 

Our Children learn about all kinds of religion at school and we talk openly at home, and they ask questions about things they don't understand, and my husband and I do our best to answer those questions. We don't encourage our children to attend a church, or say prayers, as that's just not we believe in, however, should they ever ask to go to church, I would be more than happy to take them. I believe that in things like this, children should be allowed to make their own decisions about what makes them happy, and gives them comfort. Just because it's not for me, doesn't mean that none of my children wouldn't find great peace from following a religion, should they so chose. And if that day comes, and they would like to be Christened, for example, I would be more than willing to make those arrangements. 

As beautiful as Christenings are, and as much as I respect them, I would feel hugely hypocritical if I had my children Christened for 'no reason'. My family do not attend church. We do not follow a religion, so why would I have them Christened? For gifts? For a party? I don't know what non religious people do it for, but I know many who do. This is why, despite opposition from our children's grandparents, we decided not to. 

Sure we celebrate Christmas, and Easter etc.. Do I feel hypocritical about those dates. Well, yes, a little, but for me it's all about spending time with your loved ones and making them feel special, wanted and loved. We need more days like that. Days where everyone comes together and spends quality time with each other. 
In today's busy world, those select few days each year give us something to look forward to, and I most certainly do not feel guilty about that. 

Monday, 18 November 2013

Double Figures

I'm not quite sure how it happened. But it did.
I'm not entirely sure how ten whole years went by so quickly. But they did.

I remember it. Every little detail. Every second of that 24 hour period that made me into a parent.
I recall the pain, the agony. The tears and the begging for the midwife and doctors to "please get her out, I can't do this anymore". Of course, I could, and I did, although I most definitely did need a little help in the form of an episiotomy, and  Forceps. This was of course, after a failed Ventouse attempt.
But none of that matters now, for it was 10 years ago.

Our beautiful baby daughter, Lauryn Alyssa entered the world on a cold, rainy Friday morning at 10.09am, weighing 6lb 12oz. We were besotted.

And now, she has grown into the most wonderful little lady. Full of character and personality.
Happy 1st decade, big girl. We love you with all our hearts.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Back in the Game..?

While I was away, working on other projects, I dipped my hand into a few areas of life that since becoming a mother, I had all but forgotten about!

Since turning 31 in the summer, I have started to notice things that I am, lets say, less pleased with!
My weight is, of course one of them. That is something that has been put on hold as, in all honesty, I am not in the right mindset to take on this mammoth challenge at the moment. It will come in time though, I'm sure of it. For now, I am happier just focusing on some much smaller, much more achievable nuggets of my life.

Clothes, hair, beauty and make up are the things that mostly dominate my thoughts these past few months.
These are all things that I had definitely put to the back of my mind, and wardrobe, along with that beautiful dress, which is currently 3 sizes too small, but I just can't quite bring myself to part with.

I discovered that I have a great talent.. For watching YouTube!

Beauty gurus are everywhere, and what started out as a pipe dream of finding a very simple and achievable new make up look for my rare nights out, and maybe a fool proof (Is there such a thing?!)  method of getting a 'relaxed curl/wave' in my hair without it frizzing up into some kind of Side Show Bob 'do, I realised that I actually enjoyed watching these type of videos.

I love watching their "Daily Routine" videos, or "Monthly Favourites" (Did you catch my previous post?) and I absolutely love seeing what hair and skin products they use on an everyday basis.
Why? Well, I'm not really sure I know the answer to that question. Maybe as I'm getting older, I am naturally maturing, and noticing those first signs of ageing? Maybe, in a vain attempt to try and keep myself from looking like a complete frumpy old hag, I have decided to invest a little more into any 'good' looks that I am currently still clinging on to? Or maybe I am just plain old fashioned nosey? Personally, I think that it's more than a little of the latter, but in all likelihood a mixture of all of these things.

I've started to grow and paint my nails, which is something I've never really been into before, but I have to say that I am quite enjoying exploring new looks!

Nails are painted in "Soho Silver" by Kate Spade New York, and
Color Trend Dazzlers Top Coat, in Rose Golden, by Avon.

I have branched out in lip colour, and bought a daring (Not *that* daring, but I usually do nude lips) new lip crayon type thing in a kind out reddish colour, which I have surprised myself by loving! I have also started trying out different kinds of make up looks, with bolder eyes (I'm not quite there with this one yet)
I have also branched out and purchased a few different brands of foundation/BB cream/concealer to try and find one that suits my skin type, my colouring, and my time limitations (Yep, those 4 pesky kids certainly eat up my beauty regime time)

Oh, did I tell you that I now also have a 'Beauty Regime'?!

I have found a little routine that seems to work for me, and a couple of products that I really favour (Which I will tell you all about in another post, should you be interested). I am starting to feel a little happier in my skin, which, let me tell you, is no mean feat! Along side this I have also ventured into more dangerous territory, Clothing.

I was searching my wardrobe for a top to wear with a pair of leggings. I know, LEGGINGS, but I had loads on my To-Do list and I wanted to be comfortable, rather than stylish. However, saying that, It was a    warm-ish day and I didn't want to wear a jacket on the school run. I needed a top that was longer in length (to cover huge baby bump-esque midriff) and preferably nice, (to draw attention away from the fact that a fat chick was wearing leggings). You see my dilemma, right?
Unfortunately, with the exception of one top (which was in the wash) and 1 pair of jeans, every single item in my wardrobe was coloured  black.

I am slowly, but surely trying to remedy this situation by gradually bringing a little colour back into my life. I purchased a long line jumper/dress in a kind of burgundy colour, which I really like as it's comfortable and easy to wear with either leggings, jeggings, or tights. Looks equally good teamed with kneed high boots or trainers.  Shape wise, I'm not entirely sure we're suited, but one dilemma at a time, people.

For my baby Niece's Christening, I wore a dress which was not only NOT black (it was navy, but I'm trying) it also had a bird pattern on it too! (this is BIG news!)

Dress from Yours Clothing

The most important thing, especially as my 'baby' just turned 4 last month, is that I have found a way to get a bit of 'me' time, even if it is only the odd few minutes watching stunning, slim and fashion savvy young ladies show me how to try and make myself  look and feel better.

I am finally at the stage where I can start thinking about me again. I don't need to feel guilty about not being 'Mummy' for an hour (OK, that might be a small exaggeration) a day.

The point is, it makes me feel content. It's my little getaway. Is that sad? I don't know, probably, but it is what it is.

What are your guilty pleasures?

Friday, 8 November 2013

Christmas Bucket List

Christmas is just around the corner, so I thought that it would be fun to come up with a bucket list of things to do prior to the arrival of the big day. Do feel free to suggest your own in the comments below!

1 - Make your own decorations.

This one is easy, and your children will love this family activity.
Each year, our family complete a craft (or 2) each weekend in December, so that by Christmas Eve, we are all well and truly decked out!
For ideas on what crafts to make with your children, check out my previous Christmas blog, HERE.

2 - Bake!

Sounds simple, right? Well it is!
Set out an hour or 2 with the family and don those aprons! Mince pies, Christmas cakes, cookies, gingerbread, the list is endless! (unfortunately, if you, like me, are not lucky enough to own a dishwasher, so is the clean up..)

3 - Carol!

I was horrified, last year, when I realised that my children barely knew any Christmas carols!
I printed out the lyrics to some favourites and laminated them. The children loved learning all the songs, and sung them on the door step of everyone we visited over the festive period.
If you don't go to Mass, and there isn't an organised caroling event near you, then this is your answer. Also just having a good old sing song of the greats at home while you're writing your cards, is a really good way to get into the spirit of things!

4 - Get the 'Feel Good' Factor.

I surely can't be the only one to have a HUGE clear out of all toys and clothes in preparation for the hoards of new stuff coming in at Christmas, can I?!
Don't forget that there is always someone less fortunate then you, so donate some of your items to a local, or favourite charity, or even children's hospital.

Charities also make their own Christmas cards, and some even sell small gifts or donation gifts.

Equally, you could purchase a couple of extra items during your Christmas grocery shop, and donate them to your local foodbank.

5 - Party!

As a family, we prefer to spend our Christmas day at home, just us and our 4 children.
We personally choose to celebrate with extended family on Christmas eve, and Boxing day.
We have done the whole everyone in one place Christmas before, but there are a lot of us - and once all the family are gathered in one place, no one really gets time to chill and spend some quality time with one another.

You don't have to have 14 people squashed into your tiny dining room while you slave away all day making a production line of food and drink trying, usually in vain, to keep everyone happy, and ending up missing out on most of the festivities yourself.

Have a family party instead! Crank the Christmas tunes up, sort out a finger buffet, or get everyone to bring a dish/beverage and just mingle with each other!  It is much less stressful then having to cook a full-blown-all-the-trimmings-Christmas-Lunch, and as an added bonus, YOU get to sit down and have some fun too!

6 -Watch a Movie.

Whether it be at the cinema, or at home, gather the family in one place, grab some popcorn and watch a good old Christmas themed movie together.

7 - Go on a trip!

Don't worry, I'm not about to add to the stress and expense of Christmas, by suggesting an extravagant trip to Lapland..

Grab some warm clothes and go on a walk, or drive through your neighbourhood and see all of the house decorations. The kids, (and adults!) love this. It costs nothing to walk around and see all of those beautifully decorated houses with all of their twinkling lights, and mahoosive electricity bills!

8 - Make your own Christmas Stockings

Don't buy generic. Let the kids have some fun and sew their own stockings.
My kids make their own stockings every year! We sew them on Christmas Eve, it's like a little family tradition of ours. They enjoy it immensely.

You can get little kits from craft stores, or grab some large sheets of felt or other fabric and make your own completely from scratch.

9 - Tree Time.

Choose, buy and decorate the Christmas tree together!
Yes, it may take longer, and yes, you may have to re-do the huge side section that was left completely bare, and sure, you may get a little stressed with the 12 baubles hanging from that one single branch, but you know what?  The Children will always have fond memories of decorating the tree together.

10 - Lets get EXCITED!

Christmas Eve is finally here. Lay out those treats for Santa. Light some candles, turn down the lights, snuggle under a warm blanket with some hot chocolate with added marshmallows and switch on the laptop.

Yes, you read correctly..

log on to http://www.noradsanta.org/ to track ol' St. Nick on his travels all over the world. If you haven't seen it yet, it's an absolute must!

Then, once the kids, (and the husband!) have got over the excitement of watching Father Christmas dash across the globe, choose a soothing Christmas story to send your little darlings into the land of nod..

"Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.."

Friday, 1 November 2013

October Favourites

This post is all about the month of October! I will be writing a post like this each month, showing you my favourite things of that month. 

It's a mixed bag really, ranging from food and drink to beauty essentials, from clothes to Apps, from education to TV and Music, and all that's inbetween!

First up is Autumn!

I love autumn/fall. It's my most favourite time of year. I love the cooler, crisper air. The colours of nature. The crunchy sound leaves and twigs make as you walk around your neighbourhood. Really, what's not to love?


Perception, Elementary, Marvels, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Arrow and Blacklist. WOW!!
Never before have I watched so much telly in such a short space of time! Brilliant!


A firm family favourite. We go all out decorating the house, and ourselves and walk the neighbourhood Trick or Treating. Such great fun, and a perfect way to spend a bit of quality time as a family.

Slow Cookers

I can not live without my slow cooker! Seriously, one of the best things I have ever bought. Ever!
Stews and casseroles, jacket potatoes, lasagne, curry, soup, and even bread. Not only does it take the hassle out of meals, it also frees up loads of your time, and costs significantly less then using your oven or hob. I call that a win!

Flavoured Coffee

The wonderful people at Nescafe produced a limited addition box of Gingerbread Latte. Oh. My. Goodness. Yum!


October saw my husband gaining another year, and our 'baby' boy, Che Lennon turning 4!
We celebrated by decorating the house, having a pirate party, and having dinner out. (No cooking makes Mummy feel like it's her birthday too!)


My lovely hubby bought me home this gorgeous little bouquet, completely out of the blue! Such beautiful autumnal colours, and they smell amazing too!

What did you love about October? What is your favourite time of year?

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


So, It has been 10 long months since I've written here, have you missed me?!

I have been away working on several different projects, which include writing for not one, but two new blogs, setting up a YouTube channel, having a few of my articles published for Nickelodeon, in the US, Canada and Australia, and going back to part time work, outside of the home.

Yep. I've been busy. But I'm back, and raring to go!

I am currently not on Twitter, but you can still find me over on Facebook by clicking this little linky HERE.
You can also contact me via this blog, by leaving a comment, or by emailing me via the contact page above.

Now what I would like to know is, what have you lovely lot been up to this year?
What would you like to see on this blog, now I'm back?

Details of my YouTube channel will be following shortly, for anyone who is interested.

Don't forget to like, comment, and share any of my posts that inspire you to do so.

Thanks for reading, see you all soon! xoxox