Potpourri is insanely easy to make and it’s one of those things that can literally lift and coordinate a room, set the tone and scent it in one – you show me a candle that can do all of that!
When we were given a mahoosive bag of pine cones from my in laws, I instantly knew I would be using some of them for a potpourri basket to put in the living room on top of the sky box in order to stop the dreaded overheating from the cats curling up on top. Yeah, if that happened again and I lost another episode of The Walking Dead, I’d be skinning the cats. Anyhoo, we did make potpourri and because it’s so easy it took minutes, using up ingredients that I already had knocking about the house and some that I had collected when I went for a little walk with Toby.
Here is how to make you own potpourri:
Fill the basket with different shapes pine cones, small and large, long and squat. Add a couple of handfuls of conkers, a few sticks of cinnamon (which you can buy from any craft store – try to avoid the supermarket ones as they are edible grade and therefore cost a fortune, decorative cinnamon is cheap as chips) and the dehydrated slices of orange – which can also be bought at any sm craft place, or you can slice up and orange, place it on a clean baking tray and set your oven to a very low heat (GM 1 or 1/2 would do it) and then leave the peel in the oven over night or for 8-12 hours.
Once you have arranged your potpourri, add 20-30 drops of your chosen essential oil. At this time of year you can use berries, winter oil, frankincense, myrrh, orange, cinnamon or sandalwood. I bought an essential oil mix of cinnamon and orange and it will last all week, only need a spruce up once in a while. It’s heavenly and not only does it look pretty, but it sets the tone too!
If you want to go Christmassy, you can add some baubles like I have in the picture above, or even some Christmas tree clippings and berries.
Give it a go,
Now that we’re well into the wintery months, I’m spending time making sure that my home is as cosy and comfortable as possible. In addition to this we’ve had to think about decorations and where they will go because I think it’s especially important to make sure that little ones have ample space to ruin riot in over the festive season. The last thing I wasn’t is my treasured ornaments and decorations destroying!
So whether you’re planning a bit of a jig around before Christmas, or even looking for a little inspiration for the New Year, here are some top ideas for stylish children’s bedrooms in the next few months!
I love the festive season as it’s all about family and gives us all the chance to indulge in our more whimsical design ideas. The ever-stylish Elle Décor have recently illustrated the folk art trend and there’s no reason why such a theme couldn’t work in a children’s room.
This can take the form of a few fairytale themes straight out of one of the Brothers Grimm’s books, and the simple use of rustic and folk motifs can be easily created by anyone with a pot of paint and a little imagination! If you aren’t planning to do anything big, why not get nostalgic and bring out a rustic flare with some old toy boxes (perfect storage for that toy delivery at the end of the month!)
Pretty in Pink
Most girls, and some boys, seem to go through an occasional pink phase and I don’t see anything wrong with that, provided it’s by choice and not because it is ‘expected’ of them – Toby is having a pink phase too at the moment and I love that. Whether it’s society’s conditioning or the omnipresence of Barbie in the toy shops, chances are that most modern parents will have to appease their child at some point by giving their bedroom a bubblegum pink makeover.
However, rather than the costly, time-consuming and often difficult to reverse (seriously, have you ever tried to paint over bright pink?!) practice of painting all the walls in pastel tones, a simpler effect can created through accessorising with a few liberally applied pink cushions and mauve throws. Such designs also benefit from some modern heating solutions in the bedroom such as Verismart’s electric radiators which are nicely slimline, can be powered from a plug socket and should ensure that your little one stays warm and cosy in the cold winter months!
Whilst it might be tempting to turn your child’s bedroom into an aesthetic masterpiece, it’s also a good idea to remember that children’s bedrooms inevitably suffer more than their fair share of wear and tear.
Although I might not feel the need to install a slide like in the room above (ha, totally lying, I really would love one!), by stripping everything back to the bare essentials, it provides just the right amount of modernist chic, and also minimises the potential for breakage… and makes room for Christmas gifts.
This room also makes use of lovely rich and bright colours which are also key for creating the sense of fun that’s essential for any modern kid’s bedroom. I love the subtle blending of unusual colours in this children’s room that just goes to show that just about anything is possible when designing your child’s bedroom!
You could always try a ‘bedroom makeover’ this Christmas as a “gift” for a very young child, I have featured some wonderful furniture companies of late on the blog so be sure to give them a look if you are planning on being practical this year.
Dear Bully in the Car Park,
Normally your kind of behaviour wouldn’t bother me – seriously, I’m not the type of person to dwell on it, or let it spark a reaction. I certainly wouldn’t normally stoop to your level and flip you off while hurling abuse, it’s just not my style and I’m ashamed to admit that I let you get to me just enough to spark me off and illicit that response. You’re just another asshole and you didn’t deserve it from me, but, like all good bloggers, I’m going to write an open letter and tell you why it happened.
I saw you a few times as I was walking around the supermarket with my kids and Mum, I heard you too, cursing at your child and putting your partner down. I’ll admit, I couldn’t help but think you were a creep and you hadn’t done anything to me at that point, I just didn’t like the way you were belittling your partner or the spiteful words you chucked at your child. I had you pegged at that point as another one of life’s idiots, a small man who makes himself feel bigger by picking on others, especially when they are smaller than you… bravo, macho man, aren’t you hard. See, I used to teach martial arts, I’ve met my fair share of men like you and it rolls off my back now, as long as you don’t bother me and mine, you’re just another fly in the ointment of life.
Maybe I’m being unfair – you seemed tense, were you tense? You might have been a lovely guy, having a bloody awful day, I know the feeling… there was just something in your walk and your wife beater vest with unzipped Helly Hansen hoodie that suggested otherwise. At least you were tough enough to man the cold in just that huh?
I’m digressing, I know. You didn’t even realise that you barged past me and my baby in the trolley, which was full of shopping, nearly knocking us into a car in the car park. Your partner told you, but you chucked a look at me (because it was my fault for being in the way right?) and told her to “shut your mouth and get in the car”. Nice touch dude. Muttering something about misogynistic assholes under my breath, I walked on by and got to the car. My mum kindly went to put the trolley back in the bay by the doors and I loaded up the car and put the kids in, strapping them in tight like usual. Mum has arthritis you know, and it plays up really badly in the cold weather, so I thought I would pull around the corner and pick her up at the doors – I don’t usually because we wouldn’t want to be an inconvenience and block people in, but mum was already walking back so it wouldn’t take more than a couple of seconds at best. So I did. I pulled up, stopped and she immediately jumped in the car.
That was when you pushed it a touch too far – you pulled up behind me, at which point she was already climbing in the car, and started banging on your horn. Why? It was pointless! We weren’t causing any trouble and you weren’t going to be delayed hardly at all – in fact, you had to stop for the couple who were waiting at the zebra crossing that we were stopped at. So what the fuck was your deal?
I’ll tell you what your deal was (and FYI this is why I saw red) you saw a young woman with children and an older woman… no man there to protect them huh? So you thought you’d do what you clearly do best – intimidate and threaten what you perceive to be ‘weaker’ people.
That really upset me. It honestly, truly did. I deplore men like you, you epitomise everything I want my children to avoid – you are a bully and a sub species of human. Had my six foot four husband been there, you wouldn’t have dared, you would have stayed under your rock hurling your absurd abuse at your own partner and child. Sadly for you, I’m not the type of woman to be intimidated. I’m not your doormat buddy, and I think it shocked you that I go out of the car and told you to go fuck yourself.
It shocked me too. It’s not like me… you are, quite simply put, beneath me and any other decent person. It was just so unjust and after a week of unjustifiable hatred in the world, I just couldn’t bare it anymore so I threw back at you.
I’m sorry about that, more to myself than you. You weren’t worth it. I would like to say hopefully next time you want to get your macho on, and you think you can bully a couple of women for no reason, you will think twice, but I doubt it very much.
Your’s Not so Sincerely,
The woman who called you a Twunt in the car park yesterday.
Isn’t it odd how children develop a sort of fear from nothing? Like a fear of the dark when you have never had any kind of scary experience.
Evolutionary terms suggest that we are built to fear the dark, after all, if it was dark and we were exposed, we would almost certainly be killed by something or our own careless footing. I have never had a problem with Reuben and the dark, in fact quite the opposite, I will often tell him off because he will plonk himself on the toilet with his iPad and sit in the darkness, quietly playing or watching. I mean, who does that at four? I suspect someone is mirroring Daddy, who seems to take the same amount of time to ‘nip to the loo’ as the average person would take to run a mini marathon.
Toby is a different creature altogether, and it seems centred around the toilet.
I don’t know why but recently Toby is refusing to go to the toilet on his own, especially if the light isn’t on. He knows how to switch it on, and can reach, but he seems to fear even putting his little mitt into the room without the light. Worse still, he’s started doing it at preschool and has got to the point were he would rather wet himself than actually go to the loo.
I find it really upsetting to be honest, I’m not a fan of the dark myself, but I hate to see him afraid, especially when I can’t pin point the reason, it’s not like he’s ever been shut in there by accident, or had a negative experience, and he hasn’t had one at preschool either (although his beastly big brother HAS turned the light off on him upon occasion, though that was forever ago and it bothered him at the time but not afterwards). He also has (and always has had) and unbelievable fear of being left. When he has a temper tantrum, all I have to do is say, “Right Toby, see you later” and BOOM he’s hollaring at me not to leave and running after me. It’s something that I use almost daily if he is dragging his heals or being deliberately defiant, yes I’m a bitch – take it to the sanctimummy forum. That one I can rationalise though, he’s never been left and has NEVER been on his own – he’s such a social being that it makes sense for him to hate being alone. Deep down he knows I would never truly leave him, and when he has really tested the theory he has won out because I’ve had to haul ass back to him and scoop him up.
It’s this fear of the toilet and darkness that is really baffling me!
Does anyone else have problems with the dark? He doesn’t seem to mind it at bedtime and we’ve never had a nightlight, so that is another conundrum! Either this will develop into a full blown fear of the dark, with night lights and everything, or it could be more about potty training regression, whatever the outcome, I hate to see my baby sad or scared.
I often look at Reuben and feel like I’m failing him. Toby is still young enough that any commitments for him are a bit flighty, and it isn’t really essential that certain things are done, but with Roo, it is. He has reading homework which needs to be done or he won’t get to have a go on the homework game at school – something that is designed to help the kids think of homework in a fun and positive way. He has to be at school for a specific time in the morning – it doesn’t matter if his sister poops on the way, or if his brother falls over, school have a time for when he should be there, and the responsibility falls to us to ensure he gets there on time. Even down to bedtime, he should be off to bed at a reasonable time so he isn’t a grumpy bum the next day.
The problem is, some of these commitments become insanely hard with more than one child, and I feel an intense guilt at times that I struggle with these basic parenting things.
On an evening, we get home and I sort out dinner while the boys play, then it’s time to eat, followed by a bath and then there is an hour in which to do homework or have some TV time and relax. I put Edith to bed and Daddy does reading with Roo most nights, but when it comes to a regular bedtime, that has been really disrupted of late because Edith is so damned difficult to put to bed. The kids refuse to sleep for Daddy, of course they go eventually, but they think of Daddy as a play friend and don’t want to sleep for him. Partly we’ve made this rod for our own backs by making it so that I always put the boys to bed, but I do feel insanely guilty that because I CHOSE to have another baby things have changed for the babies I already have.
In a way it’s not just Reuben either. Edith has never painted in her life and she is coming up to 10 months old in a few days. We haven’t done hand prints (or maybe we did once – see I can’t even remember!!) and we haven’t done much by way of sensory learning. Toby never really had that problem because he was so close in age to Roo that he was able to paint with him, bake with him and do things with him over time. I have pictures of the boys on my kitchen floor covered in paint whilst paint gets splattered over a paper covered floor like mini Da Vinci’s with a phobia of cleanliness. Will Edith look back and wondered why I don’t have any pictures of her doing that at such a young age?
Maybe it’s just me, I just feel like I’m slowly but surely letting the team down – with work, with the kids. Do you ever feel that way? A lot of people tell me I put too much pressure on myself and that my expectations are too high, but I think I have had such positive role models in my life, such as my own mum who was a single mother and full time nurse, I just feel like I should be able to ‘get on with it’ more.
How do you make yourself feel like you are ‘enough’? It’s a tough one, I guess I just have to hope that the kids will grow up to feel that I was enough, and I really hope they know how much I love them.
As I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions, we are big readers in this family. I’m currently reading a series by M J Arlidge about Britsh Detective Helen Grace, which I am loving.
Toby has really and truly picked up my passion for books, he loves nothing better than nestling himself into you and listening to your voice while check out the illustrations on the pages. When I found this dinosaur pop up book, Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs, I couldn’t resist and it has proven to be a huge hit with him, with daily please to look at his ‘special’ book.
There are 35 pop ups in this book and each one is a work of art. Ever page has flaps to lift, corners to explore – I can’t do it justice with words, the whole book is simply spectacular, and is a truly wonderful gift for any dinosaur or pop up lover.
Thanks to the reception this book has received, I’m going to give the other two in the series to the boys for Christmas. One is about Sharks (which they share a common interest in) and the other focuses on Prehistoric mega-beasts. I can’t wait to sit with them and share the wonder in these magical books – and before you think how does it not get ripped, it is one of the few books we only look at with an adult, which makes it even more special.
Apart from the fact that I am pretty much always on a diet (or should I say failing at a diet) nowadays, but cakes and treats excite me. It could well be the time of year because I have a tendency to spend a small fortune on edible gifts and stocking fillers – I can’t help myself. Stocking fillers are my favourite thing to buy at Christmas and I’ve never shied away from getting some little stocking stuffer style treats for Adam (or my mum) even if we don’t have stockings anymore. These are a few of my favourite edible stocking filler ideas for adults:
Chocolate Christmas jumper slab from Hotel Chocolat
Fabulous pyramid cookie cakes from The Whimsical cake company
Alcohol flavoured Popcorn from The Little Boys Room
Edible Brussel sprouts from The Quirky Gift Library
Edible iPad from The Present Finder
Dynamite chilli paste stick from Devil’s Dynamite
Pug with flowers biscuit from Eat My Cake London
Milk Chocolate covered coffee beans from Hope & Glory Coffee
Emergency Prosecco and Chocolate gift set by Whisk Hampers
What are your favourite edible stocking fillers for adults?
We have just returned from our annual mini break to Center Parcs for their Christmas Winter Wonderland, and this year we chose to visit Sherwood Forest at winter instead of visiting Whinfell up north, which is where we usually go in November. I have to say, though the accommodation isn’t as good at Sherwood Forest for the money, the facilities and decorations at Christmas were just sublime. We had a total blast, even if the boys were demonic on Sunday during the Christmas trip, it was all worth it and absolutely wonderful.
I wanted to share a few insider tips, so if you are planning a trip this might help out:
- DO book breakfast passes – if you eat out a lot, or you just want to treat yourselves, I can’t recommend these enough. For the whole family (including my mum) it cost us £80ish for the passes. To eat the wonderful, filling breakfasts everyday would have come in at just under £200 – a massive saving. Yes, you can take your own breakfast food, we usually do but this year we wanted to get out and have cooked breakfasts that we didn’t have to cook in the chalet. So worth it, although next year we won’t book them for the kids as they were too excited to sit and eat.
- DON’T bother with early check it – this year we did and it was disappointing I think. You pay quite a bit (£60 I think?) to go to your chalet 1 hour early, and it was pointless as the staff were still cleaning at 2.40pm. The only good thing about this was that I left the kids at the pool with Daddy and Maw Maw whilst I went and moved the car… still not worth the money though.
- DO book a cabana for a baby – I think I’ve mentioned before that the cabana we booked was fab when we were at Whinfell. It’s quiet and cornered off in all the parks but at Sherwood it is *just* off the children’s pool, so your older kids can play without being far away. We all agreed it would have been helpful for Edith, who is a dreadful nap taker at the best of times and simply couldn’t get to sleep with all the commotion by the baby pool. On a side note, don’t bother booking one if you have older kids that want to play in the pool and you can’t leave them unsupervised (I’m thinking Reuben/Toby age) because you won’t be in it and it will be a huge waste.
- DO go to guest services if anything isn’t to your liking – Center Parcs are wonderful at making sure their customer satisfaction is high and they will go out of their way to help you out. We had a wonderful stay, but I did go to the guest services to tell them I wasn’t happy about my chalet being 40 minutes delayed when I had paid for it to be ready. They immediately apologised, gave us a bottle of wine and box of chocolates. If I had asked they would have refunded to payment, but I thought that was overkill when it wasn’t that big a deal. I’m not suggesting you complain for freebies, that is just ridiculous, but talk to the guest services because if you aren’t happy they will find a way to make sure your stay doesn’t suffer.
- DO book evening meals – we have learnt by past mistakes, we book every evening meal we intend to have weeks in advance. It might seem OTT but when you have three hungry kids and every restaurant is booked until 10pm, you won’t regret the forethought.
- DO visit the pool late – all the times I’ve been and I always forget that Center Parcs pools are open until 9pm! We dragged the kids out at around 4pm just as things started to get quiet – I would suggest coming out at lunch, going and doing something else, then revisiting at 4pmish.
So, those are my tips from this trip, here are our pics:
I seriously can’t recommend it enough for a convenient little family break – it is the best thing we have discovered.
I wanted to write about the terror attacks in Paris, but as someone who never really shuts up, I find myself struggling to know what to say. Whilst I was feeding Edith on the bed at Center Parcs, enjoying our little family break, I had a bulletin pop up from BBC news on my phone. It said ‘shooting in a restaurant in Paris, gunman opens fire in killing spree”. I immediately clicked the app, read the news and switched to Twitter, where you genuinely get the news before the news. Within seconds the hashtag Paris was screeching out of my phone. I text Adam in the room next door to tell him to check his Twitter, there has been a mass shooting… And then that there had been 3 other attacks…
As the evening went on, we spent the first night of our holiday rapidly checking Twitter and watching Sky news (which is appalling by the way, seriously, how can they be THAT far behind other channels and still consider themselves a news channel?). It became apparent pretty quickly that this was terrorism. This wasn’t a shooting from some lunatic with a gun, this was planned, scheduled and fucking horrific. This was humanity at it’s very worst.
We both ended up staying glued to our phones until gone midnight, neither of us daring to turn them off because we needed to know what was happening. We were scared to go to bed and find out that more tragedies had occurred, and neither of us could sleep knowing the fear and sadness that was happening just off the shores of our own country. That is the blunt truth of it you know, no one wants to say it out loud for fear of being branded ignorant or inhumane but it’s the truth – this has impact because we might all be one species, but when it comes down to it we’re inherently selfish. The world has been crying out demanding to know why this attack has had such publicity but the daily attacks in Syria, the other 3 horrendous attacks on Friday, are put aside or given minimal media coverage… and that is the answer. This shows that ISIS is not just a bunch of bad people killing others in already war torn countries, this isn’t half way across the world, this isn’t a minimal security location where the world is now apathetic due to frequency and misinformation. No, this is France. This is Europe. WE are European. This is in our house.
The hashtag #porteouverte (or open door) where Parisian’s were offering to help keep the stranded safe came out pretty fast, a sparkling example of the goodness is people in light of a tragedy. In the last few days we’ve heard a lot about how we need to look for the good in humanity, we need to look for the acts of kindness amongst the cruelty, and remember those moments. The problem is, the world is so filled with hatred, I have seen real acts of kindness in the last few days, but for every act of kindness there has been hatred and viciousness to match it and marr it in the way I believe only humans can do. I have seen people demanding boycotts of Muslim businesses, hate fuelled slurs towards Muslims from agnostics, Christians and many more, I’ve seen hate filled slurs from Muslims towards Jews and back again. Where does it stop? Is religion always to be a platform to divide us? Will the world never learn that this isn’t about religion?
This is about people. Bad people, who can’t be negotiated with, can’t be mollified and won’t be satisfied until the world that you and I know is a very different place. Telling ourselves otherwise is naive, and I have lost faith in a kind and calm resolution. I wish I had an answer to that problem.
We made a conscious decision to answer Reuben’s questions openly and honestly, we didn’t turn off the news when he walked in, we didn’t shy away from telling him the facts. During the minute silence on Monday he had wandered out of the play area and tried to come back to our seats, but the staff were lined up along the bar, the customers were still and everyone was quietly watching the TV in the corner. It freaked him out a bit, it’s the first time he’s seen a minute silence in person and it’s a scary thing – it’s deafening, and you instinctually know that something bad has taken place. We’ve had a long chat, I’ve explained to him that some very bad people came to country that is close to us, used their weapons and hurt a lot of people, killing most. Bless his heart, he asked me why, so I told him the truth.
I can’t answer that.
When I first had Reuben it was a bit of a novelty to park in the parent and child parking spaces, it’s not something I’d done before, but boy did it make a difference to getting him in and out of the car. Now that I have three kids, if we are all together it is damned near impossible to get out of the car without the extra space. Roo will fling open the front passenger seat as he climbs over, denting anything in his path if I don’t watch him, I can’t get the baby seat out and it’s so difficult to get Toby out as he is in an extended tea facing seat, so I can’t twist it and lift him down in a cramped space.
Last week I had to visit the local Asda to grab some bits and bobs on the way home. Low and behold there were absolutely no parent and child spaces, only disabled left. I highly doubt the super sleek sports car that was absent of baby seats needed to be parked in the front bay but hey, maybe they were collecting their child… From Narnia. Still, I just drove around the corner to where the furthest bays were and pulled across two spaces. Now before you all cringe too much, this used to irritate the hell out of me, until I read a post about issues with car seats and the lack of parent and child spaces. The lady on the thread stated that she sad more than happy to park at the back of the car park (which is where I think parent and child slots should be, then no one would want them!!) and she parked double – so across the two spaces, effectively making her own parent child space. I was amazed by the amount of people saying what a good idea it was.. Until I got to the supermarket and there was nowhere to park where I could actually get my kids out. So I did it! And as a result I received a note on the car from Asda park supervisors telling me that the parking was in violation of their courteous code of conduct for parking, and could I please refrain from doing so again.
I understand the point of view, of course I do, but what would they suggest I do if I can’t get my extremely overloaded, practically-a-bus car into the space provided and some asshat (who is collecting their child inside from Narnia, remember?) has parked in the spot allocated me because it’s ‘closer’ and they are ‘nipping in’? This is a big part of why I think parent child needs to be in an ‘undesirable location’ however some argue the purpose is not just that parent and child spaces are bigger, but also the whole point is that they are closer to make it safer for kids in the car park. Sigh.
I really don’t know what to do. I’m anticipating a snide note from someone who thinks I’m a car park twat who found her license at the bottom of a cereal pack, or verbal abuse from someone who has no clue what they are talking about. What do you do in these situations?
Toby has a bit of an obsession with soft toys, he loves them and lines them up along the side of his bed, bless him. It’s so sweet, and of course with the addition of Edith to the household, lots of soft cuddly toys have made their way back to us for her to hold, chew and explore. I’ve put together a little Christmas gift guide for the best soft toys and dolls around in 2015:
Suzette from Les Mistinguettes – These dolls are so beautiful with a host of fabrics, patterns and textures. They come with a personality profile in the most darling gift box – which is a big part of the gift too.
Boo Boo dolls from Sorgenfresser – These boo boo dolls are german worry eaters, which I’ve written about here before. I love that they have a dual purpose and can help ward of worries and bad dreams.
Spotty dog doll from Studio Escargot – Adorable handmade dog soft toy, with cute little pants to play dress up, plus totally suitable for a new baby.
Princess and the Pea doll set by Maileg – Sigh. They have had this in the local toy boutique for ages and I have been so desperate for it! It’s the sweetest set and all handmade.
Blanche the Deer by Moulin Roty – I think this deer toy is so sweet because it’s so nostalgic, it reminds me of those 70’s inspired prints and dolls. Adorable and suitable for new baby.
Handmade cloth Fashionista doll from Velvet Rainbows – I love this doll and her super cool outfit, a must have for any little fashionista!
Unicorn from Hansa – These animal soft toys from Hansa are handcrafted to be so realistic and I adore the way they are like soft, quiet version of the real thing!
Crochet Fire engine from Anne-Claire Petit – for something a little bit different to the usual plush, this fire engine makes a really sweet gift, especially for a little baby. It’s hand crocheted and absolutely adorable.
Cuddly cat toy from Mimi’lou – I love this kind of toy that doubles as a sweet decorative cushion. Reuben will sleep with this kind of cuddly toy even though soft toys aren’t really his things anymore (unless we count Harold, Harold is his best friend ever!)
Liberty print doll from Pigmee – I love love love the liberty print on this doll and just the simple cut (which Toby says reminds him of Baymax from Big Hero 6!)
Cherry Bear from Oeuf NYC – I do love me a good teddy bear, both the boys have classic teddies and I think this one is the sweetest twist on a classic design.
It’s that time of year again where gift guides are coming out, parents are buying presents for their children to unravel on Christmas Day and everyone is starting to pull on their judgy-pants and lace up those bossy boots.
Last week I saw a post on a Facebook group I’m in asking for some advice for gifts to buy a baby under a year, and the overwhelming response was positive, until someone decided to declare “Is this for real? Who the hell buys a baby under one anything? Jesus, show off much… There are children that get nothing!!” Now, I don’t often comment on these things, but this flies up my nose faster than concord, and it pisses me off big time. Every year parents feel they have a right to start “advising” other parents how much they should or shouldn’t spend on their children, how they should only give a few gifts or at what age the child should start receiving gifts. This woman was asking for advice, not for herself, but because her family insisted on buying the baby something, and she didn’t want a tonne of stuff she wasn’t going to use, so she was asking for alternative ideas. Not only did the commenter clearly not read the request properly, but like most keyboard warriors, she didn’t have the sense to abide by the whole ‘nothing nice to say, say nothing’ proverb. In this instance, it wasn’t about the person flashing the cash or buying pointless presents, but who cares if it is? What is it with the spending Nazi’s at Christmas time?!
I get it, babies don’t remember what they were or weren’t given at Christmas, they don’t care and are often happier with boxes and left over wrapping paper, but here’s the kicker – it’s my money, and I will damn well do with it as I please. I work hard for what I earn, I have been fortunate to have an education that has helped me, but many very wealthy people aren’t blessed with silver spoons and still go on to earn big bucks, despite having to struggle through abject poverty in their youth. Do you think they sit around saying, ‘Well, there are kiddos out there that get nothing, so clearly I shouldn’t buy for my baby who won’t remember it!’ Hell no. They spend what they want, where they want. By that logic, there are people out there who are starving, do we stop posting pictures of food or asking for recipes, because ‘think of the less fortunate’? Of course not.
On the flip side, I’m not a fan of the whole ‘post your Christmas tree the night before’ with captions of “OMG soooo spoiled” or “Eekkkk can’t see the tree!” Though I will admit to doing this the first year we had two kids, only to look back and think, well that was foolish and unnecessary, and feel a little bit embarrassed by my actions – they were thoughtless and childish. It can be upsetting for people who can’t afford to buy lots of presents (or children whose parent’s choose not to), and that picture does ram it down the throat, doesn’t it? It smacks of ‘look at me, look at me!’ Though I have doubts it is intended that way at times, sometimes people just want a record of their whole Christmas, including Christmas Eve.
I think if you are feeling inclined to lecture this year, ask yourself, what have you done for the needy and underprivileged? Why not put the effort you will expend in telling others how much they should or shouldn’t spend and what is and isn’t appropriate for their child into buying a couple of gifts from the local supermarket and donating them. Which is something we do every year, and I think it helps our children see the true meaning of Christmas, even though they receive an excessive amount over the holidays.
At the end of the day, what someone else spends on their family, or doesn’t spend, is relative to their income, not yours. It’s largely no one else’s business and shouldn’t be a parenting nightmare.
One of my favourite parts of Christmas shopping is buying stocking fillers, I dong know why, but I love those little gifts and joke gifts for adults. I always get random things for the boys to open or pull out of their stocking alongside all the sweets and chocolates – which are usually still hanging around around Easter time!
Here are my favourite stocking fillers for kids in 2015:
White Christmas in a Match box by Marvelling Bros Ltd
Finger printing art sets by All Things Brighton Beautiful
Animal mask by Opposite of Far
Sticker scene book by Djeco
Shadow puppets from Moulin Roty
Mini mice soft toy from Maileg
Scented soap finger paint by Green Door Products
Robotics dress up magnet game from Mudpuppy toys
Rudolph & reindeer crayon set by Whimsical Crayons
Adorable twig pencil set from Rustic bakes
Rubber laces by Shoeps
Awesome construction utensils by Constructive Eating
Kinetic sand by Kinetic Sand
Nesting dolls by OMM Design
Unicorn horn by Annie Bruce
Nanoblock Orca from Cissy Wears
Sonny Angel Mini Figure from Toyella
What else would you add to the list? Have you bought your stocking fillers yet?
Earlier this week I was sat doing some work after the kids had gone to bed when Adam flagged up the sweetest news story from Toys R Us, which left me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
On Sunday 29th November, Toys R Us are holding a nationwide Autism Sunday to help families with children who have sensory disorders or are on the autism spectrum get their Christmas shopping done. Isn’t that lovely? The store will open an hour earlier just for these families and the lights will be dimmed, the music turned down and staff with basic Autism parental training are going to be on help to give a hand – the best thing, parents will be able to wondered around in an environment free from judgement and surrounded by other people who can empathise and understand what their day to day life is like.
I feel very passionately about creating an environment where special needs are catered for, where they aren’t seen as ‘abnormal’ but rather just different, because that’s what they are – it’s what we all are. I would love to see this kind of thing on a more permanent basis, but at this time of year it will be such a blessing to families who might need that extra help – and it could mean that a child gets to experience the pure excitement of running around Toys R Us at Christmas time, telling their parents what needs to go on their list. It might mean that a family gets some advice as to what toys to recommend to friends and family or buy themselves, that will bring their child joy on Christmas Day.
I adore Toys R Us for this, it’s wonderful and so compassionate of a multinational company and I think it’s a wonderful way to honour the true meaning of Christmas, being thoughtful of others and caring for them.
I am always thinking of how to re-decorate, the living room, the hallway, the kitchen and even the boys playroom and bedroom. I don’t know what it is about me that makes me so restless when it comes to home decor, maybe it’s because it’s not my forever home that we live in, or maybe it’s just because I love interior design and keep seeing these amazing design ideas… Yeah, I’m blaming it on Pinterest!
Anyway, the boys have a great big bed in their room that they share after all the nights of them crawling into bed together, falling out of a cramped single bed or waking each other up. A few weeks ago they started pointing out bunk beds and raised beds whenever we were looking around shops (with one especially amusing incident in John Lewis where Roo decided to climb into a bunk bed while I was blissfully unaware). This month I’ve been lucky enough to be sponsored by the wonderful Room to Grow, and I wanted to share with you some of their beautiful pieces of furniture that can really make over your children’s room.
I’m trying to move more and more of the boys toys upstairs and these fabulous raised beds allow plenty of room for storage underneath, or even a desk for keeping homework. I also adore the idea of these bookcase beds too – it’s a fabulous way to really encourage kids to settle down with a good book, something I find really relaxing and hope the boys will too as they get older.
If you’re looking for something a bit funkier, these funky ‘locker’ room style pieces of furniture are awesome for creating that masculine vibe for slightly older boys (or girls who don’t want a ‘pretty’ room) and for younger children these teepee beds are my absolute fave!
Room to grow has been selling children’s furniture since 1996, which means they have years upon years of experience providing parents with space saving solutions in the form of hard wearing and durable furniture.
As I mentioned before, I’m not really big on the whole ‘boys gifts’ or ‘gifts for girls’ – that’s not to say I have an issue with princess link stuff or anything, in fact I’ve started buying it for Edith, it’s just that I know Toby will swipe half of it the first chance he gets because that boy loves pink and can rock heels and a tutu better than most. Anyway, I digress (ahem, what’s new?!) so I’ve made my lastest gift guide a guide to gifts for crafty children, because I think boys, girls and adults all like crafting, cooking, and making. Here are my top gifts for little crafters this year:
Paper set from Pukaca
Felted soap kit by Wool N Feather Farm
Gorgeous sticker book by Djeco
Sewing kit by Moulin Roty
Flower press by the Little Blue Owl
Bug eating plant by Beecycle
Magic bean set from Beecycle
Lip balm set by Sweet Cecilys
Make your own castle by Nubie Boutique
Kizmo Headchefs from The Little Cook Company
DIY electro dough kit by Technology Will Save Us
Make your own wind up dinosaur from The Contemporary House
Electronic lab kit by Minty Geek
Build your own clock set by Planet Apple
And that’s it!! So many wonderful gifts for creative minds, the ultimate fun for your crafter this Christmas, I’m definitely going to be ordering the electro dough kit for Reuben and the wind up dinosaur to make with Toby.
Have you heard of this? Apparently it’s been going around for a few years, but this will be the first year I have done it, and I have a lovely reader to thank for telling me about it!!
Basically, dinovember was started by a lovely couple whose son was dino obsessed, much like my own middle boy! They started taking pictures of what the dinosaurs got up to on an evening after he had gone to bed, and soon it was discovered that parents around the world LOVED what they saw and wanted to join in. They started the hashtag #dinovember to bring together all the pictures that people were sharing and since then have released a book with images and continued to make November a significantly more fun month.
This November, I’m joining in with dinovember on Instagram, where I am sharing a daily picture of what our dinosaurs have been getting up to. At the end of the month I’m planning to gather all the pictures, plus some out takes and have them printed in a hardback photo book for Toby for Christmas, I think it will make a lovely, unique gift for him and something he will be able to look back on in years to come!
I’d love it if you would like to join some on Instagram and share dinovember with us!
I do love Christmas decorations, who doesn’t? Well, my husband for one as he always bashes his head on things, which I think is further proof that he stumbles about with his eyes closed – though you probably shouldn’t tell him that.
I have been doing my daily Pinterest scheduling with a bit more enthusiasm of late, and I’ve found in spending more and more time getting sucked into the many many wonderful ideas for Xmas decor. This year I’m going to have a look at what I can do differently on my front door instead of the tires wreath that I have been hanging for however many years. Here are some of my favourite suggestions:
A beautiful light up heart from Scotlight Direct
I love this, it was sent through to me a few weeks ago and I think it is a wonderful decoration for people who want some longevity out of their Christmas decorations. This kind of thing really stands out and invites people info your home with its soft lights and that lovely shape – then of course you can use it for day to day decor too!
Dangling pine cones
I saw this on Pinterest last week and I love it! You take some big, full pine cones, attach your favourite Christmas ribbon and then attach to the front of your door with a nail. I love the simplicity and how easy this would be to make, plus how beautiful would it look with a few lights around it.
Santa’s hat door hanging
This is really cute and I think the boys would get such a kick out of it! You take a normal Santa hat and fill it with flowers, pine cones and berries, hang it upside down on the door. Too cute!
Twig Christmas scene
My mum used to make these, or rather a very simple version of them to decorate the dining table, when I was younger. I adore this and I’m definitely going to give it a go with the boys, maybe to han on the front door, or possibly the back one depending on what we get up to to.
The partridge in the pear tree
I think this is one of my favourites of all time. So stylish and genuinely breathtaking to adorn your front porch with. Take a simple branch, spray it golden or bronze and then place a single partridge in the middle, and dangle a faux pear from the side. Beautiful.
I’ve never been a huge fan of gaudy baubles, but I do really like this idea for a slightly funkier take on Xmas. Take a large frame, some baubles of your choosing and some Xmas ribbon. It’s really that simple.
Got an old pair of mittens? Then you’re in luck! Take some Christmas tree trimmings and pine cones, artfully stuffing your mittens, then just hang em up!
I hope you feel inspired by some of theses simply suggestions, from the re-useable light shapes, mittens and frames to the funky Santa hats, there can be something for every front door!
We’re a few days into November now and you might have noticed that I have two new sponsors to share with you on the blog. I have been so lucky to be sponsored by Green People, one of my favourite beauty brands of all time. I have featured Green People’s wonderful products on the blog several times (you can find my posts here, here and here) and now I’ve been sent their delightful Christmas gift sets to try out – and I love them.
There are four limited edition sets in total: Stag, Owl, Fox and Badger, all containing the most glorious products! These would make such a lovely gift for a friend, teacher of even as a stocking filler for a loved one. The best thing about these sets is that Green People have teamed up with The Woodland Trust and are donating a percentage from every pack sold to them. So not only are the packs the sweetest little gift but you are also giving back and helping us to preserve the animals they are named after. As if that wasn’t enough, Green People are one of the most dedicated brands to upholding the organic product flag. Their products are totally free from SLS, parabens, alcohol (ethyl alcohol/ethanol), lanolin, artificial fragrance, petrochemicals, methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone, gluten, phthalates and colourants so you know that you are getting only natural ingredients that won’t harm your skin. If that isn’t a gif filled with love I don’t know what is!!
Here is a run down of what to expect from each set:
Badger is a luxurious hand cream set that is just perfect for anyone who likes to treat their hands or has rough skin. I have a bit of an obsession with hand cream, so I love this twin pack and I know several friend’s this would make the best Christmas beauty gift for.
Fox is a delightful body care set with heavenly scented Lemongrass and Ginger body wash and lotion duo. I adore the smell of these – it refreshes and revitalises me in a morning, especially helpful for a new mama or someone with an early rise like a teacher!
For the facial lovers out there, Owl is the set for you. It’s not a twin pack, but a trio pack and it is absolutely to die for, with a facial scrub, cleanser and moisturiser. The set smells amazing with all natural oils that just make your skin feel amazing, and so soft.
Stag is a gift set specifically for men, with two masculine scented body washes that are designed to wash away the stresses of the day and rejuvenate even the most exhausted. Organic products tend to be marketed towards women and I love that Green People have created a set specifically for the boys too.
I would be over the moon to receive any of these beautiful gifts this year, in fact I’m secretly hoping for a Badger set in my Christmas stocking to put in my handbag!!
Want to win a beautiful Owl gift set for Christmas? Well you can! I’m collaborating with Green People to give two lucky readers a Christmas gift! You can win the Owl gift set by entering my rafflecopter giveaway here. a Rafflecopter giveaway
The competition will end on 30th November, so make sure that you enter ASAP!
I’ve never really been one for the little chocolate filled calendars that you buy at the supermarket, they just never really interested me. When I was a child I had a snowman shaped calendar that my mum would fill with sweets, little toys and chocolates – it really made it so special for me because I never knew what I was going to get! Here are some of my favourite alternative advent calendars for kids.
A book calendar
I’ve seen some wonderful examples of this on Pinterest and when they boys get a bit old I’m going to do this for them. Simply wrap up 24 Christmas (or other if you would like) books and allow your child to unwrap one a day. Great idea for book worms, or if your child likes colouring, why not try colouring books instead.
Fillable advent calendar
There are hundreds of different types of these, the kids have inherited my snowman and a wooden train version, but these are great if you want to fill something with your child’s preferences. One year I filled Reuben’s up with his chocolate buttons and added ‘surprise’ hot wheels cars every so often! He loved it.
Lego advent calendars
We’ve bought one of these for the boys to share this year – they love Lego and it will be a great way to get them excited for Christmas whilst building on their Lego collection. There were several different types, from the ‘friends’ one to a special ‘star wars’ version for fans!
The Nutcracker jewellery charm advent
I wrote about this last year, and it’s still as fabulous this year. I adore it, and I’m sorely tempted to buy one for when Edie is older *just* in case they don’t make one again. Each day you open a door to find a gloriously sweet charm for the pretty and delicate bracelet that you get on Christmas Eve. I really want one myself!!
Woodland creatures pop out calendar by penelopetom
I did something similar to this with the boys last year on top of their gift/sweet advent calendar, just for a bit of fun – this one is a step further and looks fabulous. I love the fact that each day you pop out a little woodland character and slot it into position in order to build a really lovely decoration at the end of the month! Too cute for little ones, especially as a side project.
Personalised Scratch card advent calendar from JG Artwork
This is really cute and a very unique advent calendar for kids, as it involves the whole family and gets everyone joining in festive fun. The advent calendar is made of strong card and features a attachable dot every day, underneath which there are games, activities and ideas for family fun.
Advent calendar cards
I love these and I think they are the sweetest little cards to give out to little friends at school or preschool. Each day you have a little flap to lift to discover another scene underneath. It’s just a very sweet way to build excitement without hardly any cost.
These are my favourite advent calendars for children, but if you are looking for unique advent calendars for adults there are so many – from booze galore to luxury bath, home and candle sets, there is a unique advent calendar put there for everyone!