christmas gift ideas

Christmas is a coming - Gift Ideas

‘Christmas isn’t a season, it’s a feeling’

Edna Ferber

So I’ve finally started my Christmas shopping.  Little bit late to the game but better late than never eh!  So what am I buying this year…

Well here are my best picks from my list:

Mummy

So the first purchase is a completely selfish purchase.  I’m a sucker for a Christmas jumper, but I also love a slogan tee, and what better than to combine both with this awesome tee from the masters that are Parent Apparel.

Daddy

I’m not sure about you guys but I always find it nigh on impossible to buy for my OH. Either he’s already got it or it’s way out of my price bracket. So Gift Wink is a brilliant new site that does the hard work for you.  Just type in who you are shopping for and they will do the rest…

For little peeps

Every year on Christmas Eve grandma always gives the boys new pj’s and we sit down to watch movies. So this year we decided to go for something a little special, from grandma and mummy! I have lusted after these Kigu Crew onesies for a long time, so many to choose from and the sizing means they will last them for years!

For the Family

I’ve only recently discovered this misting spray, but couldn’t be without it now.  It really does help all of us settle at night, especially after a busy day.  If you are quick there is 30% off over at Three Little Pandas, just quote BNWF30 and order before midnight tonight.  Otherwise use FAY10 for 10% OFF at any other time.

For the Home

I love christmas time and all the decs that go with it. Every year without fail we have to add something to the collection. This year I managed to bag some of these giant crackers from Sainsburys Home which I’m definitely not letting anyone pull (although the gifts look fab!) but haven’t quite decided where I’ll display yet.  They are approx. 2ft long and only £5 so excited to display them…

The other purchase I cannot do without at this time of the year (and a definite little luxury) is Molton Brown Christmas handwash. It’s for the downstairs WC only and I always feel the festive season is on the way when the hubby brings a bottle home.  Again if you are quick there is up to 25% OFF till midnight tonight.

Craft / D.I.Y

Last but not least is a FREE make which is gonna look beautiful around the home and such fun to make. Head over to Doodle Moo and check out their Christmas edition free printables. Can’t wait to give these a go this year! Not got access to a printer or some of the materials required, then keep an eye out for DIY kits to purchase, with everything you will need.  Coming soon…

So there we have it, just a couple of the things I’ll be buying/making this Christmas. How are you doing with your Christmas shopping?! Are you organised and start early, or are you like me and leave till the last minute and finish it by the skin of your teeth?

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Time to get s**t done

Time to get s**t done - For one week only!

So I have one week till the new job, one week till my baby turns 6 (when the frig did that happen!) and one week till I turn my house from hell hole to organised style, ready to get the Christmas shizzle up!  Time to get s**t done.  There are 2 out of 3 things that are definitely gonna happen, and one I’d like to, but hey ho we’ll see.

Time to get s**t done…

It’s a funny thing starting a new job, especially at this age; but who am I kidding for me it always was.  The not knowing simple things like where the toilet is, how to work the photocopier, when you can make tea, can you have a kettle in your office?  For me it goes even further, it’s that dread of the phone ringing and having to answer, what will they ask, will I know who it is, how do I transfer the call.  How do I find my way around the building, what if I get lost…

For people like me the anxiety never goes away, the self doubt is always there.  Is it admitting failure to ask how to work the photocopier, will people think I’m stupid if I get lost around the campus, how do I admit that I’m not quite sure.

Time to get s**t done

What’s changed…

I’m a lot better than I was when I was younger.  Age (and actually parenthood more so) gives you the confidence to be able to view things differently.  I am no longer afraid to admit when I’m not sure, it still burns like hell but I know that most of us go through it. I realise now that it’s actually a sign of strength to admit.

However there are still certain situations that I cannot control, situations that make me feel completely insecure and shove me right back to being that 10 year old girl that no one was talking to, and laughed at, and prodded, and fought with at any opportunity.  Even at 42, I can still be transported back to the classroom in a second. To that first moment of being picked out and made a target.  That feeling of everyone laughing at you; of going home knowing you have no friends, but have to return the very next day to do all over again.

Bullying and whispering school kids in uniform
Julia Wheeler and Veronika Laws via Getty Images

Maturity…

The difference that parenthood and age has brought to me is suddenly being able to accept that just because it didn’t work out right, does not mean it was bad/wrong.  Just because I made a wrong step as a parent or in my career, does not mean I failed, it means I’m human. It means I learned something!

So I will welcome next week with gusto, I really am so excited to start working there.  My new surroundings and colleagues immediately filled me with welcome and comfort, I have to take this and accept it.  I am bloody good at my job and the inconsequentials will be forgotten about before I even know it.  I’m gonna try and welcome those new job faux pas’ as just part of life.  Everyone goes through it, I’m no different and actually I don’t think anyone cares?! Do they?…

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Healthy Sausage Stew

Family Friendly Sausage Stew

Healthy Sausage Stew 

Finding meals and recipes that are suitable for hungry teens and men, fussy kids, and Mums who are trying to shift a bit of weight is every Mum’s challenge. 

Nobody wants to be cooking three separate meals every night, but how do you cater for everyone’s individual tastes and nutritional needs can be tricky. 

Thankfully it can be made much simpler with one small trick; rather than altering family favourite recipes completely, just serve them up differently 

Healthy Sausage Stew

For weight loss, reducing calories is key, so one way to do this is to just have a much smaller portion. But that leaves you hungry, and hunger is never fun.  

That’s where protein and fibre (vegetables) come in – protein is the most filling food type, while vegetables are high in satisfying fibre while being very low in calories. Basing meals primarily around protein such as meat, fish, eggs or tofu plus lots of vegetables or salad is an easy way to make all of your meals and recipes lower calorie while being just as filling. 

Then for growing kids, active teens and hungry men you can add starchier foods to fulfil their higher energy needs, such as a side of potatoes, rice, bread or similar. That’s not to say you need to abstain from carbs, but cutting back to a couple of tablespoonful’s rather than a big pile is a very easy way to cut calories without having to learn or make completely new recipes. Win! 

This healthy sausage stew is a favourite with kids, because which kids don’t like sausages?! They could easily be swapped for Quorn sausages and the meat for firm tofu or Quorn pieces for vegetarians. And don’t feel tied down by the vegetables – if your family prefer, say, broccoli and courgettes then that’s fine with me! It freezes really well too, so make a batch and have some to hand for next time you’re in a hurry for a hearty meal. 

Ingredients

1 litres beef or chicken broth 

225g lean pork steak, cut into small chunks 

1/2 onion, coarsely chopped 

1 stick celery, coarsely chopped 

1 carrot, coarsely chopped 

1 leek, sliced 

225g sausages, cut into 1 inch pieces 

2 cloves garlic, chopped 

1 tbsp. rosemary 

1 tbsp. oregano 

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

Potatoes or rice, to serve, for people with higher energy needs. 

Extra veg (just some extra carrots or leeks will do, or your choice of vegetables), to serve, to make the meal more weight loss friendly.  

Method

Chop and prep all your ingredients, you want everything roughly the same size. 

Some people like to seal the meat first – flash fry the chopped pork in a tsp. oil before adding to the slow cooker if you want to do this (it doesn’t have to be cooked through as it will cook with the rest of the ingredients). I generally don’t bother with this step! 

Add all the chopped ingredients to your slow cooker along with the stock. 

Turn on your slow cooker according to how long you’ll be leaving it for. If you’re putting it on first thing and will be eating it for your evening meal, a ‘low’ heat setting will be fine. If you’ve left it to mid afternoon or are serving it for lunch, you’ll need a higher heat setting.

Before eating cook your potatoes or rice – simple jacket potatoes go really well. It’s at this point I’ll bring in the nutritional recommendations. As a weight loss coach, for Mums wanting to lose weight the stew as it is, with plenty of (extra) veg dished up, is perfect; with lots of filling protein and high fibre vegetables. Growing kids, teenagers or hungry men will likely want some extra starch, which is where the potatoes and rice fill the tummy-gaps! 

Serve the stew alone in bowls or on a bed of rice or alongside a jacket potato or extra vegetables.  

Pollyanna Hale helps busy and tired Mums lose weight, tone up and have more energy without compromising family life, making separate meals to the family, or struggling with hunger and cravings. You can find out more and download a free Quickstart Fatloss Guide at http://www.thefitmumformula.com/ 


Forgetful Kids

What To Do With Forgetful Kids

I began writing about forgetful kids earlier in the day on my lunch break, but actually couldn’t bring myself to type it.  Not for any other reason than I really didn’t want to write about my boy, my H and how scatty he is.  I began to question why I’d want to do that to him, why would a parent write about their kid, especially at such a crucial stage (he’s turning 12 on Friday!).  I could embarrass the hell out of him.  Two things then came to me…

  1. I’m his mum, it’s my job to embarrass my kids.
  2. Actually his friends all know what he is like so it’s not like I’m giving away a major secret.

Then my lunch (half) hour was over, so I had to wait till tonight to finish.

Forgetful Kids

So for those of you who don’t already know, my eldest boy ‘H’ is a tad forgetful.  I’m not talking bits here or there, a letter from school, a sock out his PE Kit.  No I’m talking full bags of PE Kit, Jackets, Mobile Phones and probably his best yet a whole School Bag!

He started high school in September of this year and so far we have lost the following:

  • PE Kit x 3
  • CousCous x 1 – to be fair it was his first lesson, and maybe best #sorrynotsorry
  • Mobile Phone x 2
  • Jacket x 1
  • Bus Pass x 1
  • Letters from school – too many to count
  • School Bag x 1 incl. pencil case, school books, text books etc.
  • Homework Planner x 3

Am I To Blame?

I sometimes wonder if we apply too much pressure these days.  So much to remember at such a young age.  But I also have to admit that H is my boy, my baby, my preemie miracle, and I have treated him with kid gloves.  So am I to blame?  He’s the first born and as I say was 5 weeks premature.  I know fine well that I have done more for him than my other two.  The youngest, poor Samuel is left at the wayside with things in comparison with what I did for Henry.

But Samuel is one of the most independent little beings that you could ever know.  He certainly won’t be forgetting s**t at school (unless he deliberately choose too, which wouldn’t surprise me!).  And my middle boy Fred is just so cocksure that even if he did lose or forget something, he’d not hesitate to ensure he got it back.  Or at worst he’d manage to charm his way right out of it!

It’s so hard as a parent to admit that you’ve possibly/probably contributed to a particular trait in your own kids.  Have I let him down, will this be something he struggles with  forever?  But then I give myself a slap and tell myself I need to get a grip!  There are plenty of forgetful people in the world (me included – and actually that’s a point, all my boys contributed to my forgetfulness as I was never like this before kids! #quidproquo)

I can also console myself with this new paper by the journal Neuron which states that not only is forgetfulness normal but it actually makes us smarter!  So maybe H is a genius in the making.

For now I’ll take that.  Along with some tracking devices I can attached to his jacket, bag, books…

Any advice gratefully received!

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Samuels Gallery Wall Update

How I updated Samuel's wall for less than £10

Those of you who know me, know just how impatient I am.  It’s a couple of weeks till payday, and to finish Henry’s room a shopping trip is required.  So I’m getting styling withdrawal symptoms, and Samuels Gallery Wall Update is just what was needed.

gallery wall original

Samuels Gallery Wall Update

So this is how his wall looked originally, but the whole point was so I could change and update easily for him.  But it had sat like this for months and months.

To top this off I noticed that the washi tape was actually staining the wall very slightly having been there so long.  So it was time for a change.  But a change that would make it easier to update in the future…

doodle moo peg board

I had bought this gorgeous peg board from @DaisyMoo several months back for my own studio.  But actually I realised I didn’t really have anywhere for it, so it had sat unused.  I knew it would be perfect on Samuel’s wall, but lets see if he can look after it properly.

Samuels Gallery Wall Update

You might remember a while back I mentioned in one of my blogs about using clipboards to display art.  Well what better to introduce onto Samuel’s wall.  It also means we can easily change up his prints whenever we want!  These clipboards were only £2 each from Sainsbury’s Home.

Samuel's Room Update

With a little re-gig of what was displayed on his shelves and where, then essentially for less than £10 I was able to give his wall a fresh new look.  Did Samuel like? Well when I asked he said ‘I love you mama, you’re the best!’ #jobdone

What do you guys think?

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NB: I’ve listed all the wonderful small shops that are a part of this wall, along with a few high street favourites.

Name Garland – Mum Made

Lightbox – The Range

Tractor – Jones & Parker Toys

Rainbow, Bandit Peg Doll, Batman Plaque & Name Wedge – Three Little Tinkers

Star Canvas, Bean Bag, Toy Storage Bags – Henry, Fred & Felicity

Raven & Snow Peg Dolls (Large & Mini), Splatter Chair, Splatter Hands, Splatter House, Splatter Snowman & Tree – Tiny Jax

Cloud Wall Hanging – Crazy Little Crafts

Mini TV – Kids Boetiek

Hero Mask Wall Decals – V & C Designs

Felt Ball Garlands – The Bear & The Bird

Clipboards – Sainsburys Home

Prints – Bold Print Studio, Rainbo & Bear

Robot Boxes – Doodle Moo Printables

Personalised Peg Doll – Mono Me

Personalised Crayon Art – Mum Made It

Plush Guitar – Be Unique Kids

Teepee – Hobbycraft


Chocolate Cornflake Cakes

Baking with Henry - Chocolate Cornflake Cakes

So I have to say my first poll on Instagram was an absolute failure! LOL You guys all voting for us to bake all 5 cakes and then either invite you round or post to you wasn’t entirely helpful! Ha Ha so in the end I gave Henry the vote and he choose Chocolate Cornflake Cakes.

choc cornflake cake

A really simple and easy recipe, it’s perfect for an older child like Henry to essentially do on his own with little supervision.  Likewise it is also fun to get the little ones involved in whilst you bake.

Chocolate Cornflake Cakes

Ingredients

50g Butter

100g Chocolate

3 tblspoon Syrup

100g Cornflakes

ingredients

Directions

Step 1

Add the butter, chocolate and syrup to a microwaveable bowl.  Measure out the cornflakes into another bowl.  Put the wet ingredients in microwave for 10/20 secs at time, removing and stirring in between.

step 1
step 2
step 3

Step 2

Once fully melted then pour on top of your cornflakes and mix through with a wooden spoon.

step 4

Step 3

Now we made milk chocolate and dark chocolate batches and added choc to cornflakes, and cornflakes to choc.  The consensus from Henry is that adding choc to cornflakes is better/easier.

step 5

Step 4

Put the mixture into individual cases and chill in the fridge for at least 30 mins.  If you fancy you can add marshmallows, choc and/or glitter etc. for a little extra sparkle!

We found that as we used larger cases we got six from each batch.  Thanks to the original recipe from BBC Good Food.

choc cornflake cake

Henry totally approves!

So go on, have a go, think half of ours are gone already…

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Kids Cake Recipes

Cooking With Kids - Cake Recipes

So as you may or may not know my eldest (Henry 11, 12 next Friday) has developed a real passion for cooking.  Whether it’s helping with the Sunday roast, or cutting the veg for the weeknight salad, he’ll do what he can.  However sweet treats are always a particular favourite.  So here are our top 5 favourite kids cake recipes, perfect for cooking with your kids!

Kids Cake Recipes

chocolate cornflake cakes

Chocolate Cornflake Cakes

I remember cooking these as a child with my mum and sisters, and I still love making them now.   So easy, so simple and so tasty!

Prep: 10 mins               Cook: 5 mins                Level: Easy  

Get the Recipe
butterfly cake

Fairy Cakes

Possibly my favourite from when I was young.  Being wheat intolerant now I tend to steer away from (will need to check out some gluten free recipes!)  but I am an absolute sucker for buttercream…

Prep: 20 mins            Cook: 20 mins              Level: Easy  

Get the Recipe
choc cake

Chocolate Cake

Now who doesn’t love chocolate cake?! This is a great recipe, a great staple for birthdays and treats on a weekend…

Prep: 35 mins             Cook: 25 mins             Level: Easy  

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Rice Crispy Cakes

Rice Crispy Cake

Such an easy recipe and one the kids always love to help with.  Make as simple as you like or cover/add treats of your choice.  Perfect for an after school or play-date treat.

Prep: 10 mins               Cook: 5 mins                Level: Easy  

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Kids Cake Recipes

Millionaires Shortbread

This is Henry’s favourite cake of all time along with brownies.  Another easy to make cake, with only 4 steps.  Keeps well in the fridge!

Prep: 20 mins             Cook: 20 mins              Level: Easy  

Get the Recipe

So there we have it! Now Hen and I just need to decide which one we are going to bake this weekend?! Will run a poll on Instagram if you fancy letting me know your favourite or comment below! What was your favourite bake as a kid?

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personalised letter canvas

Paint your own personalised Letter Canvas

Paint Your Own Personalised Letter Canvas

Looking for a beautiful but simple way to personalise your child’s room? Or maybe you’d like to make a gift for someone’s birthday?  These personalised letter canvas are so simple to make and cost only £5!

What you will need

Box Canvas (15cm x 15cm) – Hobbycraft

Acrylic Paint – Hobbycraft

Small Paintbrush

Pencil

Eraser

Letter Stencil

Step 2 - Draw Stencil
what you need

Step by Step

  1. Create a letter stencil.  There are two options for this, you can either print off the letter you require from the internet (making sure it’s approx 10cm high) or you can buy a papermache letter from places such as Hobbycraft or The Range for approx. £1 and use to draw round.

2. Place the stencil centrally on your canvas and draw round.  Draw as lightly as possible, although any pencil marks can be erased afterwards.

3. With a steady hand paint the letter the colour of your choice (metallics are a particular favourite of mine at the moment!) with the acrylic paint.  Allow first coat to dry and then paint a second time.

Step 3 - Paint your letter

4. Once fully dry rub out any visible pencil lines.

5. You can also add a small number after the letter as per scrabble tiles, again check the internet to get the correct number or you can choose a specific number if the canvas is for a birthday present?!

And there you have it. Your very own personalised letter canvas.  So go on, have fun.  All for only £5!

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personalised letter canvas