Saturday, 29 October 2016

Countdown to Christmas - My Five-Step Plan

Hi All

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You will soon get to realise that Christmas is my absolute favourite time of the year! To be honest, I am usually planning it all the year through...this year has been a little bit different, but I am one of those people that can happily watch a Christmas film in March and enjoy my Michael Buble Christmas album all year round.

Since my daughter came along, Christmas has been even better, albeit a bit more expensive! However, like with everything, I have had to get myself organised earlier and try to be a little smarter with the budget to suit our current income. I thought I would write a Christmas series but start today with the basics of how I start to approach getting sorted for 'the most wonderful time of the year!'

1. Write lists...

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OK, so I am massively into writing lists but I really do feel that preparing for the festive period is a time when they are a necessity. I write and re-write mine a number of times, just because that is how I am, but definitely jot down the following: cards to write; gifts to buy; food to prepare/bake; food to buy; important dates/events/parties and extras that don't quite fit in anywhere else! I always feel that this gives me something to work with, whether it be to gather my addresses to send cards out, begin to work on my budget for gifts or plan my December using my planner to make sure I don't miss any important event. I really do find that they are useful. Perhaps even invest in a Christmas planner, or devote a nice notebook solely to Christmas. This will keep everything in one place so that you can keep track of everything. Oh, and don't forget to write your own wish list for loved ones ;-)

2. Set a budget!

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I have to admit that this is the part that I am not very good at! I do get carried away when all of the festive items and gifts start to trickle into the shops. However, this year I have tried to be really strict with myself. I have focused on my gift budget in particular. I have quite a large family and we have a big group of close friends and our circles are growing with the addition of new children, which of course is great but can get expensive at the same time. It is important to remember that Christmas isn't about the cost of a gift and in fact not about gifts at all, however, I often feel pressured to meet high expectations that I perhaps have set myself and that's one of the reasons I've tried to be a little more reserved this year. Our circumstances are different anyway but spending at Christmas can get out of hand quickly. This year I have a clear budget for family and friends, have clear ideas for gifts and so far....fingers is going well! It is also important to make yourself a budget for food and drink, and even maybe a budget for days out, parties and events that you may wish to attend. Christmas is a time to spend with your family and loved ones, not one to be paying for well in to the next year-this is what I will be trying to tell myself anyway!

3. Use a calendar/planner to plan out key events.

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The run up to Christmas and New Year is always a hectic one, so being really clear of what work commitments you have, what family events you are able to attend and then any other extra festive treats you want to plan is really important. This could be something as simple as your kitchen calendar, or your Google calendar on your mobile phone. Start 'pencilling' events, commitments in as and when you are asked to attend. Don't forget to make time for the things you will want to do as a family such as a visit to Santa, or a wintery walk, or Christmas shopping. It's important that you don't double book yourself but also that you agree to what you want to do and what is best for you and your family. I always find it is a time of year where sometimes you have to decline offers/invitations as there is just too much going on. Don't feel bad about this. Having an overview of how your month of December is looking though can be useful to help you prioritise what is important to you. It isn't even November yet and almost all of my weekends are full from the middle of November...busy but I know we will enjoy every single thing that is planned!

4. Start as early as you can...

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I am usually a person who buys items in the sales ready for next year. This year we decided not to do that but I think I am regretting that decision as I'm now in a bit of a flap shopping! I have also tried to resist temptation to buy throughout the year but think I will go back to this next year. I just may have to identify my budgets first ;-) However, it is nearly the end of October and I would say I am about 1/3 of the way through my Christmas gift shopping, have started my food stock pile and have started to plan and pay for festive events we have planned for the end of November moving into December. I always like to have the majority of my Christmas gift shopping completed by the end of November so that in December I just have to worry about food and events. This can be achieved if you begin as early as you can. My family do live away, so I have been buying in advance for them for many years now, as we usually exchange gifts end of October/beginning of November. However, now that I have a child, I find that starting earlier helps me to spread the cost so that I can buy a little extra for her and then relax with her in December which frees up more time to spend with her enjoying the excitement that builds.

5. Take a step back and enjoy!

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Yes, you can enjoy the run up to Christmas. I believe that if you get organised, whatever way feels best for you, then you really can enjoy taking part in all of those traditions. Remember to take photographs to document the little things, maybe even make a December Daily to record it all with the kids. Try to pencil in some time for you to soak in the bath, catch up with friends or just have a lazy day watching Christmas films, and enjoy the moment. It is easy for Christmas to overwhelm you and it has me on many occasions, but I try to enjoy it all the same. Remember what the true message of Christmas is, whatever your beliefs are, and enjoy the time with family and friends.

I am no expert in this field but these are the things that I do that I feel let me enjoy the season as well as getting all of those things done that need to be done. I hope this has been of some use to you and if you have any other things that you do then let me know. If I've mentioned anything else you'd like some extra info on then pop a comment below and I will get back to you.

This is the first of my Christmas series....I'm hoping to share some gift guides and some posts on some of the traditions we do in our household over the coming weeks. Hope you enjoy them!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Pumpkin Picking Fun!

Hi All

It has been a ridiculous amount of time since my last post. Apologies! I'm hopeful that I can get back into the swing of things now and share some of my favourite things about being a Mummy during Autumn and Winter, my favourite time of year. Today I thought I would share our first outing to choose a pumpkin...or two!

I have never really been into Halloween, in fact it is probably my least favourite 'holiday,' but now I am a Mum I feel that I should make a little more effort! I had seen lots of people choosing their own pumpkins at farms and it looked so 'Autumnal' and fun that I thought we would try and find somewhere local to visit. Luckily there was somewhere quite close by and when I mentioned it to my hubby he was happy to go.

Off we went, bundling little one in her hat, scarf, gloves and wellies. We invited Nanny and Grandad to come too and once we were all there we walked up to the 'pumpkin patch.' I have to say that it was a really nice sight. Seeing Chloe's excitement, and hearing hubby's stories of when his Dad used to carve their pumpkins when they were younger, made me think that I needed to make this a yearly tradition.


We were told that the best pumpkins were the ones at the top of the hill, of course they would be! But we trundled up, picking up pumpkins along the way. I was keen to have a few little ones to display and a big one for carving. Chloe had picked up the first little one she had seen and would not let it go, I guess that one was coming home then! Nanny and Grandad also bought a few, and some other fresh fruit from the farm shop.

What surprised me was the really reasonable price. I expected it to be quite expensive but for two large pumpkins and four small-medium ones it only came to just over £7.00! I thought that was a great price, not quite the 50p-£1 price tag at Asda but for the fun hour or so we had it was worth that little bit extra. Definitely don't let the thought of a more expensive price put you off!

Once we had finished at the farm we headed to a local garden centre for some tea and cake. Of course it was essential that we had a little walk around the Christmas decorations and maybe purchase a couple....

All in all, it made me think that I should have some kind of Autumnal tick list of things to do, a bucket list perhaps. I really enjoyed it and am trying to think of other things we could do before the Christmas season kicks in....what do you do? Would love to hear your ideas and add some to my list!

We haven't carved the big pumpkin yet, that will be hubby's job at the weekend, before our Halloween get together on Sunday evening, I will be sure to share his efforts on Instagram!

Hope you enjoyed reading this and there is still time to go and pick your own pumpkin for Halloween, see if a farm near you has a pumpkin patch, I guarantee you will have a great time and a lovely way to spend time as a family!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Dressing-up ideas for Roald Dahl day!

Hi All

Roald Dahl's birthday month is September and many schools are celebrating by having a dress-up day! I thought I would write a blog post with some less costly ideas for costumes for your little ones! Some you could do just with the bits and bobs you will be able to find at home and others you may need to buy a few accessories but hopefully they will give you some inspiration. I used to be in charge of planning and organising all of the events like this and I absolutely loved it! Here goes...hope they help to give you some inspiration!

Ideas for boys


Charlie Bucket - simply find some old clothes that they are growing out of or that you don't mind not being able to use again! Make them look a bit dirty and maybe cut a few holes in them and the main part of your costume is done! Then make a golden ticket just with a piece of gold card (or yellow I'm sure will do the job!) and send them on their way! Another little touch you could do would be to make a Wonka bar chocolate wrapper and cover a bar of chocolate.

Fantastic Mr Fox - all you really need is a fox mask! Once made, you could add a shirt, tie and trousers (maybe even just a school uniform) and be like the version from the film. A smart jacket/waistcoat would make it more authentic to the Quentin Blake the closets!

George (out of George's Marvellous Medicine) - super easy! Just normal clothes, maybe jeans and a jumper. Then send them into school with a big pan or bowl, a wooden spoon and an array of ingredients mentioned in the book. For an added crafty touch, tie little labels around each of the ingredients and use the description or quotes from the story where it is being used.

Mr Twit - oversized clothes that are a little ripped and stained, a bag of jelly worms, corn flakes etc. -  he used to have all sorts in his beard/hair....maybe a beard on elastic could be decorated or even a wig if you are feeling adventurous!

The BFG - probably a super popular one this year. All you need is a pair of shorts, a shirt and a waistcoat would top it off if you have one. Send your little ones into school with an empty jar (sure a plastic one could be found if needed) with a tag labelling it as the dream-jar, maybe you could be creative with a cucumber and make it look like snozzcumber and don't forget you will need a pair of could easily make some cardboard ones and stick them onto a hairband though if you didn't really want to buy anything!

Mike Teavee - if you have a cowboy dress up then he would be an easy one to do! Simply wear the cowboy outfit, including the hat, and make a golden ticket out of gold/yellow card!

Ideas for girls



Matilda - my favourite, and in fact who I dressed up as on World Book Day last year! You will need a blue dress or a skirt, blouse and a cardigan. Little dolly bar shoes and a red ribbon to go in their hair. Add to this a copy of Moby Dick and your costume is complete!

Sophie from The BFG - again, probably going to be a popular one this year! Simply wear a nighty (or pyjamas), maybe add a dressing gown and slippers depending on the weather, and a pair of old glasses without the lenses in. 

The Witches - you could either go in a simple witches outfit, or in a dress perhaps with mice ears/tail, or you could dress up as the Grandma! A skirt, top, bit of talc in the hair and a handbag and another one done!

Veruca Salt - party dress of some kind, or a nice skirt and top, perhaps topped with a furry coat or cardigan. Maybe add a little crossover bag for them to put their ticket in. Then make a golden ticket out of gold or yellow card.

I could go through all of the books and many more characters but these seemed the easiest to do without having to spend a fortune! Lots of parents I know are often commenting on the amount of different dress-up days, especially at primary school, but it doesn't have to cost a fortune. Little details that you can add to a simple costume will make all the difference, and be appreciated by all! Have fun with it, look through the books and discuss with your children their favourite characters from Dahl's books and work together to think outside of the box to make a great costume together! Don't be afraid to use the films for inspiration too.

Hope this has helped some of you or given you a little but of inspiration. Enjoy Roald Dahl day! Please feel free to share your ideas for costumes in the comments section too!

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Best advice I've received since becoming a Mummy.....

Hi All

Thought I'd do a slightly different kind of post today. I don't know about other Mums out there but I remember, and still feel like, I was/am swamped with advice when I became a Mummy. It was very overwhelming and probably started when I was pregnant. Everyone seems to have an opinion or the 'best way' of doing something, even if they aren't parents themselves! (Have to admit I am probably guilty of this myself before I had my daughter!) As a first-time parent I had no idea what I was doing! I had read some things in books and online but to be honest tried to take it in my stride, at least at first! My Mum was a great help in the first few weeks with the basics but then I started to find my own way and it really is true that you know your baby best.

In this post I thought I'd share the top pieces of advice that I received, I am not in any way saying that everyone should follow this advice, only that these stood out to me either in those early days or in everyday life now!

  1. Do what you feel is right - you are responsible for this tiny human being and it can become very overwhelming. If you aren't sure about something or if you feel like you need to get a second opinion then do it. If you are relaxed and feel happy, then so will your baby. Try not to worry about what other people think or say and do what is right for you and your baby.
  2. Remember that you are more than just a Mummy - this is something that I am still struggling with and think will take me a long time to get the balance back. It is important that you get some 'me time' and learn to enjoy having some time away from your little one. I can't cope with that long away from my daughter at the moment, I'm the clingy one, not her! But this is a massive thing for me. If I had perhaps worked on this from the start then I may be a little better now she is older!
  3. It is ok to have a PJ day - in those first few weeks you have so many visitors, too many sometimes, and all you want is to sit and enjoy your gorgeous new bundle of joy. There seems to be a lot of pressure on new Mums to get ready, put some make-up on and get out as soon as you can-not saying this is a bad thing, only that it is ok not to do this straight away. Being a new Mummy is so tiring and just relaxing with your little one and finding your feet is a good thing, don't feel like you haven't achieved anything that day, you've relaxed, you've enjoyed the company of your newborn, nothing to be scoffed at there. This is also acceptable when you have a toddler!! Sometimes you just need a day of comfort!
  4. The housework really can wait - I felt so much pressure to make sure my house was spotless for each new visitor that came to see our daughter! The truth is that motherhood took over! I found it impossible at first to either find the time or to find the energy to clean. Now I have a toddler I am able to do a lot more around the house and am in a bit of a routine, my house is never spotless! I think that might just be parenthood though! It is still something that bugs me but I am beginning to just let people see what reality looks like in a house with a toddler!
  5. Ignore what a child 'should do' by certain months/years - you read and hear so much about what this child has done by the time they are 6 months and what this one has done before they were 2....the truth is that no two children are the same. It is unlikely that even siblings will progress and develop in the same way just because they are in the same family! I found that there was so much pressure from parents, friends, health visitors, books/articles, apps about what your child should be able to do by a certain point. At first I read them all and compared my child to them, I then stopped. Not because my daughter wasn't doing what it was saying necessarily but because it seemed like I was concentrating more on that than experiencing how my little one was developing right in front of my eyes. Obviously, if you have real concerns about development or what you think your baby can/can't do in relation to their age then of course you should seek professional help, but for the most part just enjoy watching them. I am astounded everyday with my daughter's development! I have no idea what she should/shouldn't be doing at her particular age, but she seems like she is doing well in my eyes. No major concerns so I am enjoying her, currently she is copying dance moves and singing along to songs on the TV or counting to 10...sometimes skipping 7! She is just great and I can't stress to you enough to try to let them grow and develop in their own way.
I thought I'd keep it to just five pieces of advice! I was given so much and so many little tips here and there which have been great but I tried to think of things that people didn't often say, the above came from friends who didn't have kids or Mum's that had recently had a baby or who were on their second or third and so had that recent experience to share!

Parenting is hard and we will all make mistakes, I don't even want to count how many I've made in the two and a half years I've been a Mummy, but it doesn't matter. As long as you have a happy, healthy child and you are happy, healthy parents...most of the time anyway...then all will be well! Try not to feel overwhelmed by the advice of those around you. Take them with a pinch of salt and pick and choose what you listen to. Everyone is trying to help, even if it doesn't seem like it at the time! If you are starting to feel stressed out then it may be worth dismissing whatever has been said and moving on. I have found this hard in the past and still do. You want to be polite, you want to take on board what all those experienced Mummy's before you can share but you also need to remember that you are now the Mum and you can do this!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Caption this...

Hi All

Just a quick post from me today. I am going to be writing a few Mummy organisation posts but haven't managed to get around to it this week. However, today I would love you to caption the following photograph of me and my little one at soft play yesterday....what was the imaginary situation we were in do you think? Or what is she telling me? Just for fun! Would love to know your thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

A Day in Photos # 1

Hi All

I thought I would start a little series on my blog which will be 'A Day in Photos.' I used to see this a lot on blogs years ago and thought I would have a go at one myself. I may do a little intro for each on or I might just put a series of pictures that depict that day! Today I have decided to share with you a great day we had last week at a wildlife park. I am not a master of photography at all but I hope that you get an idea of the kind of day we had from the images that follow! Let me know if you enjoy these kinds of posts. Here goes...

Hope you enjoyed looking at those! They show the excitement and tiredness, the sunshine and the rain, and many an animal, some of which were too tired to say hello when we went! Let me know if you like this kind of post or whether you prefer a bit more of a trip outline! I am planning on doing a 'stay at home typical Mummy day' very soon which will be full of my waffle! Just thought I'd try something different!

Thanks for popping by!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

July Favourites - not all Mummy related!

Hi All

I absolutely love 'favourite' videos on YouTube and as I don't think I will ever be brave enough to get behind the camera, I thought I'd do a blog post of my favourites! If any of you ever blog your favourites then let me know below as I'd love to have a read! Ok, so we are nearly in the middle of August but next month I will try and get my August favourites up a bit earlier!

I will try and share a mixture of items, some will be 'Mummy' related and some will just be life in general! So here goes....

1. Traveller's Notebook - Lyradori

For those of you who don't know, I am a crazy planner girl! I love using planners, journals, diaries to help me stay organised....or at least the illusion of this! One thing I invested in a few months ago was a 'Traveller's Notebook'...a Lyradori in my case. I hadn't really done anything with it until this past month but now I can't put it down. For those of you who don't know, a 'Lyradori' is a cloth cover that attaches small booklets using elastic. You can then attach and detach as and when is needed. I'm not sure if that makes any kind of sense but I will pop some pictures below and if you google it or look on pinterest you will find lots of examples! I have four inserts in mine at the moment: a lined notebook, a plain notebook, a monthly planner and a week on two pages planner (these are both undated so that I can use them as and when.) 

I do have an Erin Condren Life Planner that I use for my general life planning, let me know if you'd like a look at that in another post, but my Lyradori is great for popping in my bag and for general scribblings. It has been really handy, I've used the lined pad for lots of lists or notes that I've needed to keep safe, the plain pad has been used as a bit of a journal/thought jotter and the monthly planner I have started to use as a blog planner. I have yet to use the weekly planner just yet. I have decorated the fronts of a couple of the inserts as they were just plain to keep costs down, but I'm not really into decorating my Lyradori, I keep that for my ECLP! 

I have been loving it though, the cloth cover has been great, super flexible and the dark cover means it doesn't pick up any kind of dirt, well not as much as a light cover would have. Lyra and Co on Etsy have such cute designs...I'm thinking of getting a pocket version with a Christmassy cover anything that is festive! I will pop some links below of where I got all of the bits and bobs mentioned and if you have any questions then let me know. Highly recommended though! Shops used: Lyra and Co and Travelers Times.

2. Adult colouring book
I am also a bit of a crafter at heart but with a 2 and a half year old running around it is rare I get chance to really get into my scrapbooking anymore! Instead, I have taken to these adult colouring books that are everywhere. I just got a cheap one from The Range (think it was £1.99) and use colouring pencils to colour the designs in. I really do find it relaxing. I find that I concentrate solely on the page I am doing and it helps my mind switch off from everything, even just for half an hour or so. Give it a go and see if it can help you! A bit of mindfulness :) 

3. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard (The first book in the series)

I really am obsessed with the show Pretty Little Liars on Netflix. As an avid reader I had to give the books a go. I bought the first in the series with some vouchers I was given recently and loved it. It is a really easy read and it is a Young Adult book so it is aimed at teenagers and you can tell this if you read it, however, I found it really enjoyable. It is really interesting to see how they have altered the storyline and characters for the TV series too. I think I read it in a weekend and am looking forward to the next one!

4. Netflix

I may as well talk about this obsession as PLL is definitely a part of it! We have just the basic subscription of Netflix and we watch it nearly every night. Not only have I watched (and keep re-watching PLL...told you I'm obsessed!), we have watched loads of great programmes and films. Some of our favourites have been White Collar, Suits, Lie to Me, How to Get Away with Murder and I've also just started to watch Gilmore Girls. We are seriously considering getting rid of Sky. Definitely worth having the free trial and seeing if you would enjoy it and going from there. We had it a few years ago and it was terrible compared to now!

5. Joie Nitro Stroller

I mentioned this in a blog post a few weeks ago but it has definitely been a favourite of mine for a specific reason this month. My little girl loves to walk around everywhere but will often get halfway around a lake or the shopping centre and decide she's tired and wants to be picked up. This lightweight buggy allows me to have her on the reins and take the pushchair with me as I can steer it with just one hand (well, most of the time without bumping into too much!) It is brilliant as she is getting quite big now for me to carry...I'm only little in height it gives her the option of walking or being in the buggy. Can't recommend it enough if you are thinking of moving from the bigger pushchair into a smaller stroller.

6. Jelly shoes from ASDA George £4 (Not mine!)

Bit of a strange favourite but these have been brilliant when trying to deal with the weather we have been having! They have been great to just pop on if it is really hot but we are going somewhere that sandals wouldn't really be suitable. My little girl loves them and often asks to wear them. They were a great price in Asda and should last her for the remaining hot days we may get. They keep her feet cool and go with most things due to the clear colour. Just really handy!

7. Tanya Bakes book

I absolutely love baking but don't buy many baking books for myself. However, I am a fan of Tanya Burr and her YouTube channel and her make-up products in fact, so thought I'd take a look at this when I was in Waterstones recently. I was delighted to find recipes that were a true representation of the baking world, some modern twists on old traditional recipes and some classics in there such as a Victoria Sandwich cake. There were so many things I wanted to have a go at that I bought it there and then and have used it more than any other baking book I've ever had....apart from maybe my old battered Bero book! Definitely worth a look if you like your traditional baking recipes but enjoy trying out new ingredients. The Great British Bake Off is back next week too....always makes me want to bake more!

8. YouTube

I have found myself enjoying watching so many people on YouTube recently. I also watch a real mixture from Mummy vloggers, to Disney vloggers and then more general health and beauty/lifestyle vloggers. I enjoy escaping into their lives every now and then or getting tips and tricks from them, especially those that are Mummys! I also associate watching YouTube videos with a nice relaxing bath as that is my little ritual now. I may do another post with some of my favourite channels at some point, would love to know who you enjoy watching.

9. Nestle Animal Bars

A blast from the past, something I remember having as a treat when I was a child. I have to admit to eating far too many and introducing my little girl to them. She enjoys the puzzles on the wrapper and seeing the different animals more than the chocolate I think...Mummy can help if she doesn't eat it though lol. Naughty but nice!

10. Hugo Boss Orange Perfume 

I had to have a 10th favourite...I can't leave a list on an odd of my 'quirks!' My final favourite this month has got to be the bottle of Hugo Boss Orange perfume that I recently found. This was the perfume I had on my wedding day and so always takes me back to that day. Hubby will often buy me a bottle at Christmas or my birthday and I managed to find an unopened bottle in the past month. Needless to say that it has been well used this month! 

Think that is it for now...I could probably go on all day but hopefully that is a good mixture for you! I think I would find it hard to do monthly 'Mummy' favourites now as my little one is growing up! It feels like that may be more of a quaterly or six-monthly update but let me know if there is any favourites you'd like to know more about. 

Thanks for popping by and reading my post. Would love to know any of your July favourites in the comments below!