Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My Christmas round up - 2013 part two

The second part to my Christmas round up!

Christmas day continued.


Our Christmas table!
At 11am our guests arrived and they were my mum, my step dad and my brother Sam. The children kept them entertained while hubby and I cooked the traditional Christmas dinner. Everyone was really pleased with the dinner and it was all very lovely having the most important people in my life all around the table together.

After dinner we all sat around the tree while the girls took turns to hand out the presents. This took a long time as we all watch each other open each present so we had a few breaks for people to get drinks and so on. The kids were well and truly spoilt and it was lovely to see their happy and excited faces. Mum, dad and Sam were all really pleased with the presents I had chosen for them which was a big relief for me as I always worry when buying for my family.


























I did very well and received some lovely gifts that included a tube of Cadbury's buttons from Faith, a bag of Cadbury's little stars from Chloe, a pack of my favourite nails from Lauren and an acrylic nail set from hubby which I had been hoping for.




Once all the presents were open we had some room in our tummies for desert which was a choice of Christmas pudding or chocolate orange  Cointreau bomb. I had the latter as I am not a fan of Christmas pudding and it was delicious.

We then played board games until tea which was a selection of cheeses and crackers, dips, crisps, cold turkey, pickles and cakes.

Our guests left at around ten and we got the girls all in bed, watched a little telly and then collapsed in bed ourselves and I went to sleep with a very contented smile on my face!
 
The rest!
 
On boxing day the girls and I usually go to the sales while hubby watches or listens to football but this year our funds would not allow us to so instead we stayed in and relaxed. We had a take-away for dinner and played games and watched TV. It was a nice chilled out day.
 
On the 28th December it was Darren's 40th birthday. I wanted to make a real fuss of him but over the years I have come to accept that he does not like any fuss to be made as he doesn't really like celebrating his birthday. So, I was not aloud to throw a party or even make a birthday cake but I was aloud to put a candle in a chocolate cake that we had brought for Christmas and not yet eaten.
 
I cooked him his favourite dinner which is a fry up, followed by his favourite desert which is a trifle. I let him do what ever he wanted which was to listen to football during the day and watch loads of the episodes of celebrity juice which he had on the sky+ in the evening, a show that I personally can not stand! Not how I imagine spending my 40th birthday but he enjoyed himself and that is the most important thing.








Monday, 30 December 2013

January idea list.

Welcome to this months idea list. There is a different task for each day of the month and then at the end of the month there will be a new list. You are free to follow the plan to the letter, or just pick and choose the idea's that you like. I hope that you find this fun and helpful and as always I welcome your feedback, good or bad, I'm always happy to hear from you.

January.

January 1st - Happy new year!! I hope that 2014 brings you and your family lot's of love, luck and happiness. Enjoy celebrating the new year with your loved ones.
 
January 2nd - Get the children to write thank you cards for their Christmas presents if they have not already done so.

January 3rd - Go through your fridge, freezer and food cupboards and write down what you have left over from Christmas. Then make a meal plan that uses up what you have to reduce your food costs this month.

January 4th - Reconnect with an old friend that you have lost touch with or think of ways that you can make a new friend.

January 5th - Make sure all the new toys and gifts from Christmas have been put away so that everything has a place and there is a place for everything. Don't put it all in a box to sort another time or you may find yourself finding the box of unused toys and gifts years later and that would be such a waste.

January 6th - Today is the traditional day to take down the Christmas decorations. Pack yours away and make sure you write an inventory which you can stick on either the outside of the box or the inside lid of the box for better protection of the list. The super organised will write two, one for the box and one to add to the family planner.

January 7th - Make sure you have a family calendar up where everyone can see.

January 8th - Paint your nails or try something different with your make-up. Looking good on the outside often makes us feel good inside and will be the perfect pick me up for the after Christmas lull.

January 9th - Clean out your handbag and purse.

January 10th - Tie a damp cloth over the end of a long handled broom with an elastic band and get rid of all the cobwebs that are hiding on the ceilings and corners of each room in the house.

January 11th - Clean the inside of you fridge and freezer today. Remove all the food so that you can get inside the draws and give it all a really good clean.

January 12th - Do something fun with the kids. If the weather permits you could wrap up warm with a flask of hot chocolate and take a trip to the park. If it's raining you could go somewhere like the cinema or stay home but play some games and have some fun.

January 13th - Do something nice for your partner, just because you love them!

January 14th - Go through all your paper work and home filing system and shred anything that you no longer need.

January 15th - Pick any room in your house and clean the skirting boards in that room. It's surprising how dirty they can get and they are often over looked when doing general cleaning.

January 16th - Treat yourself to a magazine, a lipstick or something else that is low cost but will make you smile.

January 17th - Take a walk around your home with a box or bag and place into the box or bag any items you find that do not belong in the room your in. Put the bag or box somewhere safe until tomorrow.

January 18th - Take the box or bag of homeless items from yesterday and put them all back where they should be. If something does not have a place to go, find somewhere for it or if it is something that you no longer want or need either sell, donate or dispose of it depending on what it is.

January 19th - Have a pyjama day. Cuddle up and watch movies and read books and have some treats.

January 20th -Go through all your c.ds or d.v.ds and make sure that the right disk is in the right case.

January 21st - Go through your underwear draw and get rid of any old tatty items writing a list of any new items needed to pick up from the shops the next time your out shopping.

January 22nd - Clean your shoes and get the rest of the household to clean theirs, helping small children of course!

January 23rd - Watch a comedy to make you laugh and brighten your day.

January 24th - Wash all your net curtains today.

January 25th - Clean your computer or laptop keypad today. There are lot's of different opinions on the best way to do this so my advice is to do an internet search and make your own decision.

January 26th - Surprise your family with a special breakfast to start the day on a positive note.

January 27th - Sort through your cosmetics and discard anything that has seen better days or that you never use to make your make-up area less cluttered.

January 28th - Descale your kettle and clean the outside.

January 29th - Put on one of your favourite c.ds and spend ten minutes dancing and singing along to warm you up, get your blood pumping and make you smile.

January 30th - Clean all the radiators in your home.

January 31st - Set out some craft supplies or paints and have a family art session.

My christmas round up - 2013 part one.


 
I'm back from my break away from the blog although I've still been doing a bit of blog work preparing for the year ahead.
 
Did you all have a lovely Christmas? I hope you did. My Christmas was fantastic as everything was just how I had planned, well mostly!
 
On Christmas eve we got up to our breakfast of pop tarts (the children's favourite) and then got ready for the day. Faith loved the Santa board game that I brought her and even the rest of us all had a lot of fun playing it.
 
For lunch we had tuna toasted muffins and then we watched 'The dog who saved the Christmas holidays' film which was a sequel to a film we saw a year or two ago.
 



By this time it was already getting late so faith had her bath and put on her new monster high pyjamas that I got her. For tea we had our favourite bbq chicken oven ones and chocolate fudge cake for afters.



Then it was time for Faith to put out the stockings and food and drink for Santa and his reindeer etc. and then I read her a story and tucked her into bed.

After Faith was in bed I gave Lauren and Chloe a surprize of a chocolate roulette game which is basically a game with 12 chocolates which all have a number 1 to 12. 11 of the chocolates are a lovely praline but one of them is filled with very hot chilli! Now I thought that I would be clever and spin first as the I would have to be pretty unlucky to get the chilli chocolate on the first spin when there is still 11 yummy chocolates. It turns out that I am very unlucky as I did get the chilli chocolate and oh my, was that hot!! I have never seen the kids laugh so much and in all fairness I was glad that I did get it rather then the girls as it was a lot hotter then I thought it would be! We are not a family that eats much spice and the burning down my throat and inside my mouth was awful. I even came out in a cold sweat!! The funny thing was that because they all think that I'm a really good actress, as I was in an armature dramatics group a few years ago, no one knew whether they could believe me or not so for the rest of the game everyone was still really nervous that they would get the chilli!

After the game the girls went off to get showered/bathed and in bed and hubby and I did the last bits and bobs that needed doing. Then I had a nice bath and myself and hubby had some romantic time together. Finally, there was nothing left to do but wrap up the living room door and crawl into bed at 1am!

Christmas day!
At 5.50am I was woken by three very excited faces asking if we could get up. I was quite surprized at how late it was as my rule is that they can wake me up any time after 5am on Christmas morning and normally that means 5.01am!

We came downstairs and Faith was so excited to see that the door was wrapped and loved bursting through the paper into the living room! We opened our stockings which took quite a while as Santa had been a bit naughty and spoiled the girls quite a bit.

After the stockings were opened we had our breakfast of fresh fruit salad and Danish pastries and then we got ourselves ready for the day.











 
And that is the end of part one of my Christmas update and the next part will be out later!
























Saturday, 28 December 2013

Newsletter

Just a little note to let you know that I now have a new free weekly newsletter and I would love people to sign up.
 
The newsletter comes out every Sunday and it lets you know of all the blog posts that have been posted during the week so you will not miss a thing.
 
There will also be other news such as competitions that I am running.
 
You are free to unsubscribe at any time and I will never pass your details on to any one else. If you would like to sign up you can do so by clicking here.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Happy xmas!


I hope that you have a fantastic Christmas!

I am now off to enjoy my Christmas with my family so I will not be posting again until December 30th.
 
Sending you lots of love, hugs, kisses and Christmas wishes to you and your families.

Happy Christmas x x x

Sunday, 22 December 2013

My weekly round up 15/12/13 - 21/12/13

The week that did not go to plan! This week we have been behind on every thing due to Faith feeling unwell last week. I then came down with a bug which lasted for about three days so not the end of the world but it did put me behind on my plans and then on Thursday night faith had an ear-ache which was awful as there really is nothing that I can do to take the pain away and personally I think that tooth ache and ear ache are the most painful things, even worse then giving birth so I really felt for her. On Friday morning faith woke feeling fine and wanting to go to school for the last day of term so I thought that it was over but then on Saturday she was in agony again, poor girl. Today (Sunday) as I am writing this she seems to be much better so I am hoping that she will be ok now for Christmas so I am keeping all my fingers and toes crossed!
 
Amongst all the illnesses this week I have still managed to fit in a little festive fun. We have made Christmas cards, written to Santa, written all our Christmas cards, The girls have wrapped their presents and we had a Christmas chocolate hunt which always goes down well.
 
Faith had her school Christmas play this week as well which was the first one she has been in as last year she was unwell! It was so lovely watching her and when she was singing her songs she kept making sure she could see me and she had the biggest smile on her cute little face. At the end I had to be one of the annoying parents that cheered and whooped but the look of pride on her face made any feelings of embarrassment worth it.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Listography - Top 5 personal achievements of 2013.

This weeks Listography is back with the lovely Kate and I was a bit unsure as to if I should take part in this one as in all honestly 2013 has not been a particularly great year for myself and my family, but then I thought that I must be able to think of five things that I am proud of although they will not be nearly as exciting as the lists that I have been reading from fellow bloggers that have already posted their lists!!
 
My top 5 personal achievements of 2013.
 
1) Starting my blog. Even though I had a break in the middle where I was unwell, I am proud that I came back and continued blogging as I do really enjoy it and it will be a nice reminder of life when I am old and grey.
 
2) Getting a family car. This may seem silly to some but a couple of years ago we decided to get rid of the family car as we thought that living in a town we would not need one and we were struggling to keep up with the costs of running a car. That was the biggest mistake we have ever made as it was absolutely horrible not having a car and we felt so isolated. Last year when I wrote my new years resolutions one of my goals was for us to buy a family car and get our family back on the road and in April this year we did.
 
3) I have finally thought of a business idea that my husband and I can start together and we are hoping to be up and running by next Summer. Being ill my husband and I have always thought that if we could think of a business that we could run together it would solve a lot of our problems as if I am unwell I can work from home or rest at home and he could manage without me whereas if I am employed by someone I can not phone in sick whenever I'm unwell as my illness varies so much I would soon get fired. Anyway after many years of thinking up ideas and then realising that they are not viable we are now very excited to start 2014 and are both hoping that it will be a brighter year then the past few.
 
4) Winning an ipad. Not really an achievement but something that I am proud of as I entered a lot of competitions in order to win one!
 
5) Not gaining any more weight! I may not have lost any like I had hoped but at least I am no heavier then I was this time last year and it is probably the first time in a long time that I have managed to go through a year and not get any bigger so at least I am making progress!
 
So there you have it, my list may not be as exciting as some and I may not have achieved as much as I would of liked but after the year we have had I will be grateful for small mercies! Hopefully this time next year my list will be much more exciting!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Ozeri bathroom scales review.

One of the things that I always have on my new years resolution list is to loose weight and unfortunately it is never achieved. I have always struggled with my weight but having ME has really made me pile on the pounds as the illness itself made me inactive and the depression that goes hand in hand has made me comfort eat and then the medication that I take has the side effect of rapid weight gain, sometimes it feels as if I am fighting a loosing battle. The thing is, although my husband is very understanding and he always tells me that I am beautiful to him, I do not feel beautiful. I also worry about my health as so many illnesses are related to being overweight such as diabetes and heart disease. I have decided that this coming year, 2014, needs to be the year that the weight starts to go down. I do not expect to loose it all in a year as I have a huge amount to loose and that would be unrealistic so if I could get to Christmas 2014 weighing 2 stone less then I do this Christmas then I will be happy that I have made a start and met my goal for the year.
 
About 6 years ago I threw away my bathroom scales as I felt that seeing my weight going up each month was too depressing, however, I have since discovered that if you do not keep a check on your weight it is very easy to gain a lot of weight without even realising so when I was given the opportunity by Ozeri to review some bathroom scales I was really pleased. Ozeri are a specialty manufacturer of digital lifestyle products for the modern home.
 
Ozeri Precision Pro II Digital Bathroom Scales.      
 
The first thing that I noticed was how beautiful they are. They are a very stylish black and silver and will go with most bathroom d├ęcor. They are a good size and made from impact-resistant tempered glass. The scales take 2 AAA batteries and they are even supplied with the scales. I was looking everywhere for some batteries before I realised this!
 
You can choose between weighing in pounds or kilos by simply flicking a switch on the bottom of the scales and the only bad point that I could see, is that they do not weigh in stones which I am use to using. I decided to weigh in pounds and then I just used my phone to divide the pounds by 14, giving me my weight in stones. They will weigh up to 440lbs or 200kg and they weigh in 0.2lbs or 0.1kg increments which I think gives you a very accurate reading.
 
They have a blue backlight LCD screen that displays your weight which I loved, making it very easy to read. I have never seen scales with this feature before and I think that it is very good. There is no on/off switch, you just step onto the scales and they turn on and weigh you so you do not need to tap them first. After you have weighed they turn off automatically after ten seconds of inactivity saving battery life. As with any scales  you need to weigh on a flat surface, but one of the cool features of these scales is that if you move them to a different floor they automatically calibrate so you do not need to do anything yourself.
 
They are currently available from Amazon and are retailing for less then £20 which I think is very good value for money.
 
All in all I am very pleased with my new scales and I am now ready to start the new year with the goal of loosing weight at the forefront of my mind.
 
 
*I was sent a set of these scales for the purpose of writing this review but all thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

My Christmas day.

How are you planning to spend your Christmas day this year? Do you follow the same routine each year or do your plans vary? I love hearing how others spend their Christmas as it can give me ideas of things that I may not of ever thought of to try and I am also a complete Christmas nut so I never get board talking about Christmas!

I thought that I would share with you all how I am planning on spending my Christmas this year.
 
So as I mentioned in my Christmas traditions post, we all wake up together in the same room on Christmas morning. We will then all go downstairs together to see if Santa has been! This is normally around 5am. We get a drink and then settle down in our living room to open the presents in our stockings but the tree presents do not get opened until later.
 
At about 8am we have some breakfast - this year we will be having homemade Christmas morning muffins with fresh fruit salad and croissants. 
 
At 9am we get ourselves ready for the day and then the children play with their presents that they opened from their stockings while myself and my hubby get on with cooking the big Christmas dinner.
 
Normally we do not go out or have any guests come to ours as we like to be together as a family but this year we felt like having a change so we have decided to invite my step-dad, my mum and my brother to dinner so they should be arriving at around 11:30am.
 
Dinner will be around 1pm and our Christmas day menu is quite traditional and is as follows;
  • Turkey
  • Roast potatoes
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Sausages wrapped in bacon.
  • Yorkshire puddings
  • Stuffing
  • Mashed carrots and swede
  • Sprouts
  • Gravy
Then for desert there will be a choice of Christmas pudding with cream or chocolate Cointreau bombe.
 
After dinner we will open the presents from under our tree and then spend the rest of the afternoon playing board games.
 
We will have some tea at about 7pm which will be lot's of different cheeses with crackers and biscuits, cold cuts with pickles and chutneys, crisps and dips and of course some chocolate cakes and treats. We will then watch some Christmas TV and once we have got the children in bed and we have said goodbye to our guests we will then fall into bed ourselves!
 
So there you have it, my Christmas day plans are full of food, family and fun. It may not be the most sophisticated Christmas or the most eventful but it is going to be special to me and my family and that is what Christmas is all about.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Be kind to yourself!

Christmas day is fast approaching and it can be very easy to forget to look after yourself when you are caught up in the hype of Christmas. Try to take a few moments today to be kind to yourself and take some of the pressure off your shoulders, as most of the time, we are the ones that are putting that pressure there in the first place.
 
There is no such thing as perfect and that is a fact, as everyone has a different point of view. What may seem like the perfect Christmas to you could be a total nightmare to another person and vice versa. The truth is that more often then not the reason we often feel so much extra pressure and stress at Christmas is because we create that ourselves. We tell ourselves that we must have a perfectly clean house, beautifully decorated. We must look like we just came from a magazine cover and so must our children. Everything we eat should be made from scratch with our bare hands and there should always be homemade cookies on offer for surprise guests. Our tree should be bursting with gifts and we should be doing Christmas activities with our children every minute of every day. This is so unrealistic and you would have to be bionic woman with a team of highly skilled workers to be able to pull of a Christmas like that!  Sometimes we need to stop and take a few minutes to really think about what we are telling ourselves. Will your husbands Christmas really be ruined if you do not make the bread sauce from scratch this year? Will your children hate you for ruining their Christmas if they only have 5 presents instead of 6? when I say it like that I am sure that you would agree how silly all that sounds but sometimes when caught up in the moment of Christmas we can say things like that to ourselves and completely believe it, so that is why I am saying to you to stop and take a minute to think things through and be kind to yourselves.
 
Make sure you are eating three meals a day, getting 8 hours sleep a night and taking time out to enjoy yourself. After all Christmas is about love and family so keep that in mind  in the run up to Christmas day and remember that love starts with loving ourselves.

Monday, 16 December 2013

My weekly round up 8/12/13 - 14/12/13

On Sunday we made Christmas buns and my step dad came to see us from London and stayed for dinner which was lovely as we do not get to see much of him.

 
 
 
Monday was spent Christmas shopping and our activity was making a Christmas bag which was a kit I  had picked up in last years sale for about 50p!

 
 
Tuesday we made a snowman model which is another cheap kit that I picked up from a pound shop and on Wednesday we watched a Christmas movie called 'Santa buddies' which is a great Disney film for young and old!
 
 
On Thursday the older two girls and myself went late night shopping which was lovely and unfortunately we didn't get to do an activity with Faith as Faith was home from school unwell. She had a terrible cough and was awake most of the night before so school just wasn't an option.
 
On Friday Faith was still home but feeling a little better so we made some Christmas tree cakes and even Lauren my oldest joined in which was nice.

 


Saturday was more shopping in town and we took Faith to see Santa as the Christmas activity. I also gave Faith some money to do her own Christmas shopping for the first time which will be interesting to see what she has brought us all on Christmas day.
 
I've finally finished all my Christmas shopping so now I just need to finish my wrapping and do the big food and drink shopping and I will be all done.


 

Friday, 13 December 2013

Christmas eve hampers.

I am sure that most of you out there already know what these are, but for any one that has not come across this before I will explain.

It is basically a hamper that you make for your children as a gift on Christmas eve to make the day even more special. How you do this is completely up to you and your family. Over the years my hampers have changed quite a lot. When I first started making a hamper I would give it to the children after dinner on Christmas eve and it contained new pyjamas, bath products, a book to read before bed and some cookies or other small edible treat. Back then my main purpose of the hamper was to use it as a tool to help get the children to bed on the most exciting night of the year for small children!

Over the years I have made quite a few changes and I now give the hamper to them in the morning of Christmas eve and the hamper contains everything that we need to guide us through the day. You can use a cardboard box and wrap it in Christmas paper like I do or you could buy a special container that is only ever used for this purpose. It is entirely up to you how you do your Christmas eve hamper but for inspiration I thought that I would list the items that will be in mine this year.

My 2013 Christmas eve hamper.

Last years Christmas eve hamper.
  • A box of pop tarts.
  • A new Christmas movie.
  • A bag of popcorn and some cans of pop.
  • A family board game.
  • Some paper plates, napkins etc.
  • Christmas crackers.
  • New Pyjama's for all three girls.
  • Lush bath products.
  • Tooth brushes
  • Christmas book.
  • Santa key.
  • Another more grown up game.
 
 
How I am planning on spending Christmas eve 2013.

When we get up on Christmas eve morning we give the children their hamper. This year they will get to have pop tarts for breakfast (a breakfast treat that I only allow at the very most once a year!)
 
After breakfast, once everyone is ready for the day we will play a board game. This year I have brought them 'Santa's rooftop scramble'.
 
Then I will cook us something simple for a hot dinner at lunch time, after which we will recline in the living room for the movie with the popcorn and cans of pop.
 
Late afternoon we will go for a walk to our local park and let Faith run around and hopefully burn up some of that hyper energy that she will no doubt have.
 
Once we get home we have some tea and I make it like a little tea party with the plates and napkins and the Christmas crackers.
 
After tea it is time to set up for Santa so we will put out the stockings, mince pie, milk, carrot, pictures for Santa and then put the Santa key outside.
 
Then I will take Faith up for a nice bath with the lush bath bombs and then Faith will put on her new pyjama's and I read her the new Christmas themed book and then it is lights out.
 
Once Faith is tucked up we play a more grown up game with Lauren and Chloe, this year I have got them one of those Russian roulette games with the chocolates which should be good fun.
 
Then the girls go up and get themselves ready for bed.
 
Hopefully this will be no later then 9pm so that I can have a bath and then come down stairs for a romantic film with Darren before filling the stockings, quick tidy up and prep for tomorrow and then the wrapping up of the living room door and off we go to bed! 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas crafting with children.

Christmas is such a great time of year as there are so many opportunities to do things with your family. Crafting at Christmas is so much fun and children are really good at being creative and having a go. Some people find it hard to play with their children when it comes to make believe games as they feel silly, so doing a craft project with your child could be a great way to spend some quality time together as it is more structured then running through the house wearing wings and waving a wooden spoon around for a magic wand (I speak from experience!) However, when doing craft activities with your child be careful to not be too regimental or self critical as what ever you make does not have to be a masterpiece or perfect, it should be fun!
 
I thought that I would share a few photos of simple craft activities that I have done with my children over the years to help give you some ideas.

 
Paper chains.
You can buy packs of these from most pound shops or you can make your own with some pretty paper and glue.
 
 
 
 

 
 


Beaded Christmas string decorations.
These are so easy to make and so much fun for young children. You simply wrap a plastic straw in Christmas paper and then cut the straw into pieces so that you now have Christmas 'beads'. Then you get your child to thread them onto some string and you can use it to decorate your Christmas tree like you would tinsel.
 
 

Christmas pictures.
These can either be done with store brought items such as the photo on the right or a free way to do it is to cut out the pictures from any Christmas cards that you received last year that you do not want to keep like we did in the photo on the left.




 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Dad's point of view on Christmas.

Dad's point of view is a new feature that I am having on my blog and I would love to hear your thoughts on it? Also if you have an idea for an upcoming topic then please get in touch and let me know.

Dad's point of view on Christmas.
 
My name is Darren and I am the husband of mum on a mission. I have been asked to write a post once a month on different topic's to give a dads point of view and this months topic is Christmas.
 
I do like Christmas but I am not obsessed with it like my wife. I find that it is far too commercialised and I also think that there is far too much pressure put on parents to buy the latest of everything and for most it simply is not financially possible. I have found these pressures get worse as your children get older as when they are small they do not know the difference between value and branded but as they get older they are influenced by their peers and advertising companies and the pressure to give them what they want increases tenfold. My two older girls are always coming home from school and telling us what all their friends have and it is hard to hear as I know that we can not possibly compete even if we wanted to. I say if we wanted to as I do not believe in spoiling children and it does seem to me that a lot of children now-a-days get showered in money and gifts as both parents are at work and rather then spend quality time with the children they compensate with money. If I could sum up Christmas in one word it would have to be stress (closely followed by fun) as I see how stressed out Denise gets if something goes wrong. I think that money can be quite a problem at this time of year and in the past Denise and I would argue about how much was being spent or the lack of money coming in. We are now older and a bit wiser so we have learned to see things from each others point of view and to work together to get to a point at which we are both happy so luckily there are no more Christmas related arguments between us anymore.
 
I am not really a Christmas planner so I tend to take a back seat in the planning of our Christmas. Denise likes to plan and shop and so on, so I am happy to be assigned tasks and let her get on with it. I am lucky that she enjoys all the Christmas preparation as if it was left to me it would be a very sorry affair! When it comes to Christmas preparation I think that one of the problems for me is that it seems like a lot of work for just one day.
 
If I had to pick one word to sum up what Christmas means to me, that would be family. We are not religious so we use Christmas as a time to celebrate our love for our family, as being a close family unit is something that both myself and Denise have always strived for. I like to spend Christmas day at home and we have quite a traditional Christmas playing board games and watching films and it is nice as both Denise and myself do share the same values so we never clash on things like how we will spend the day.
 
My three favourite things about Christmas are watching the children open their presents, helping to cook the Christmas dinner and watching the festive television programmes as a family. I also really enjoy doing the big Christmas food and drink shop as it is the only time each year that we can get all those luxuries that we normally go without so that is always fun for me.
 
My advice to anyone that is Christmas mad and the main organiser of their families Christmas is to chill out. Try not to put so much pressure on yourself and make sure that you actually enjoy yourself, after all it is only one day!
 
Even though I am not a Christmas fanatic I do enjoy Christmas every year and I thank my wife for all that she does to make each and every Christmas fantastic for us all.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Christmas first aid kit.

Every year I make up a Christmas first aid kit which is basically a box containing everything I think that we will need in case of any minor illness or injury over the Christmas period so that I do not have to be running around to buy things should we fall unwell.
 
The contents of this box need to be tailored to your family, but to give you an idea I have listed the contents of our Christmas first aid kit below.
 
  • Plasters, bandages and antiseptic wipes.
  • General pain killers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.
  • Heart burn or indigestion medication.
  • Period pain medication.
  • Cold and flu medication.
  • Children's cough medication.
  • Children's pain medication.
 
It is also important to check on any medication that you take regularly which you need a prescription for to make sure that you will have enough to cover the festive season. If yours is going to run out, make sure you make an appointment to see your GP now so that you can tell your doctor and then they can make sure that you will have enough.
 
Once you have gathered all your supplies make sure that you put the kit somewhere safe that small children will not be able to get to and also somewhere that is easy for you to get to in case of a minor emergency.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

My weekly round up 1/12/13 - 7/12/13

Wow, can you believe that we are already a week into December? This week has been very busy but very fun too!

On Sunday we put up the Christmas decorations which is one of my favourite activities. Each of the girls have their own little tree to decorate and then we have the big family tree where all the presents go and then we decorate inside and outside the house. Outside we only have some icicles at the moment but I am going to try and get a few more bit's in the sales after Christmas this year ready for next year as I think we need a bit more out there to make the house look more festive. We also managed to squeeze in a family morning walk as I too am trying to follow the December idea list as I will every month.
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 





On Monday our Christmas activity was making paper chains and on Tuesday our activity after school was  making a reindeer lantern which was a set which I got from a pound shop.
 
 
 
 
Wednesday was my busiest day of the week as I went out for breakfast with hubby and then I had to do some shopping and then it was Faiths parents evening after school. I was glad to hear that she is really good at school although she can be easily distracted which I knew from things at home but I'm really worried about the class she is in as the teacher who is new said that she use to teach in London and the class she has now is worse! She said that every day chairs are thrown, children are biting and all sorts so I feel really uncomfortable sending Faith to school now. The problem is that there is only one other school within walking  distance and it is full. Once Christmas is over I am definitely going to have to put my thinking cap on to come up with a different solution. After parents evening my mum and my brother came round for a catch up which is always lovely.
Our activity for Wednesday was to make a handy Christmas tree picture which was loads of fun and inspired by the lovely Cass from the one stop Christmas blog.





 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thursdays Christmas countdown activity was cooking chocolate Christmas buns.

Friday we watched 'Snow 2 brain freeze' which was a movie on Christmas 24. We watched the first one last year and Faith enjoyed it very much.
We also went to Faiths school Christmas fair on Friday afternoon. Faith really enjoyed herself and the father Christmas was superb this year, I was very impressed.








On Saturday all three girls were out for the day with their grandma so we didn't have time to do an activity but 6 out of 7 is not a bad start to the Christmas countdown.
 
I also found out that for the Christmas play at school this year Faith is going to be a hen! I am not sure how they are managing to have a hen in a Christmas play but I'm sure that she will be a brilliant hen!














Friday, 6 December 2013

Christmas baking.

I absolutely love to cook and bake and my favourite type of baking is Christmas baking. There is so much fun that you can have when you are baking for Christmas and it really gives you an excuse to step it up a gear which I love.
 
It is also a great activity to do with your children as they love cooking and then getting to eat what they have made! Now some people say that they can not cook but I do not believe them. Anyone can cook! Now I understand that some people may be better at it then others but that is mainly down to a persons personality and how much they practice. To cook well you simply need to be able to follow instructions and have patients and persistency. If you try to make a cake and it sinks in the middle and then you never again try to cook anything, then the fact is not that you can not cook, it is that you choose not to cook. Some people say they can make the food taste nice but lack presentation skills. I do not think that it is important how your food looks, if it is made with love for you and your family to enjoy then that is the most important thing.
 
All three of my kids love to bake and I believe that is because it is something that I have done with them since they were old enough to hold a spoon. It's a great bonding activity as you get a lot of time to chat while you mix and whisk together and at the end you have something to feel proud of. I would also like to point out that I am no master chef myself, I just enjoy what I do and my family always like what I make and that is good enough for me .
 
There are so many great decorations available in shops and even in supermarkets which make cooking so much easier then before. All you need to do if you are a novice is make a basic sponge recipe to make some buns and then buy some Christmas themed edible decorations and let the kids go wild. Here are some photos of past Christmas bakes that I have done with my children to hopefully inspire you to have a go this Christmas.
 
These were made with store brought decorations. When I was in Asda the other day I noticed that they were selling Santa sugar paper decorations for just 50p which I think is very good value.
 
 
This is my mince pie recipe that I make every year with the kids as they are a big hit with my family and friends. I make the pastry from scratch but use a store brought jar of mince meat.
 
This was a failed attempt at a Christmas tree! I found a silicone tree shaped tin in a pound store so we made a vanilla sponge and then made green buttercream icing and little coloured chocolates to decorate. It might not look very professional but my little one loved making this last year and it tasted great so I was still very pleased with the results.
 
These are snow capped fairy cakes which are orange sponge cakes and iced with meringue. Very yummy!





These are snowmen buns and they are decorated with marshmallows, strawberry laces and writing icing.



Gingerbread cookies cut into Christmas shapes and then decorated with writing icing pens.
I hope that I have given you some Christmas baking inspiration!