19 December 2012

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas Nose

Who wants a nose at our Christmas decorations?

Go on then...

Our decorations are up, the boys have seen the big man (if you're anywhere near Milton Keynes, Frosts has the most perfectly bearded Santa I've ever seen), I have made and posted my cards, I have bought all of my presents and some are wrapped already, we've been busy baking and crafting. I even have the Christmas Radio Times and a highlighter pen, but I'm not feeling it yet. With more funerals than weddings attended this year I'm feeling uncharacteristically subdued. We've also had colds, coughs, fevers and chest infections to deal with, but thankfully the boys were well enough to take part in their first Nativity play.

Perhaps a little Baileys in my coffee will do the trick.

Season's greetings, friends.

PS Thanks to Fox's Biscuits for the goodies. You've got to have a tin of biccies at Christmas after all.


Review: LEGO Duplo Photo Safari 6156

When our new LEGO Duplo Photo Safari set arrived, we didn't even bother to finish getting dressed before we opened the box and every bag inside. A new Duplo set is always exciting.

Having freed all the animals (and the plane, jeep, trees and bridges) both boys started to build the set using the instructions and the picture on the box as a guide.

Presley and Cash are 5 and 4, and can now make models from the LEGO City and Creator ranges, but they still love Duplo. Sets like the Photo Safari one fuel their imagination. There is so much to play with.

They particularly loved the crocodile with its working jaws. They laughed their heads off as they made it eat everything in sight, including my dressing gown. 

When they finally grew tired of this (about two hours later) they asked to play with their stash of Duplo. We have quite a collection now and they used it to make other animals.

Presley said 'Look, Mummy, I made Elmer.'

They then moved on to make a family of robots:

The Photo Safari set is a welcome addition to our Duplo stash. Yes, the RRP is quite steep at £49.99, but you can keep an eye out for offers. In the run up to Christmas I took advantage of the Sainsbury's toy sale, the 20% off weekend at Toys R Us and the 3-for-2 on toys at Argos.

Duplo, as with all LEGO, is such a well-made toy. It is as versatile as a child's imagination. Although we are moving over to LEGO now, I hope it will be a little while before the boys stop playing with Duplo altogether. The bricks are compatible after all.

We have had Duplo in our house for almost four years and it is played with all the time. I've watched my boys go from putting bricks in their mouths, to stacking them, to making simple models, to building complex villages. I love it.

Disclosure: We were sent a LEGO Duplo Photo Safari set to review.


14 December 2012

The Banana Test

How do you feel when you see a fruit bowl?

Does it make you want to reach for an apple or would you rather have an apple pie?

I'd like to share with you my top tip for healthy eating.

In our house we use The Banana Test to determine how hungry we are. The basic theory behind the test is that if you are genuinely hungry, you'll happily eat a banana. If you're just peckish or you fancy a biscuit, you won't. If it's the latter, you don't need that unhealthy snack.

We use The Banana Test with the children all the time. They're pretty good at eating their 5-a-day at mealtimes, but they are young boys and they love biscuit based snacks. If it's close to a meal, or nearly bedtime and they ask for something to eat we offer them a banana. If they're really hungry, they'll eat the banana.

Andy and I use The Banana Test too. Rather than reaching for crisps or biscuits we head for the fruit bowl, and we're feeling much better for it.

In our house, as you can imagine, we get through a lot of bananas, apples, clementines, grapes....

I wonder whether we can keep this up over the festive season.

Have you tried The Banana Test?



Review: Kirstie Allsopp Bedding From Palmers Department Store

The last time I bought new bedding was shortly after we moved to our new house. I was absolutely convinced that our bedroom carpet was brown, so I bought beige bedding. The carpet is actually blue, so the bed always looked out of place - even when I bothered to straighten the duvet.

So you can imagine my relief when Palmers Department Store asked me if I'd like to review some bedding from from one of their quality ranges (think V&A, Cath Kidston, Kylie at Home and Kirstie Allsopp).

I chose this Kirstie Allsopp set, mainly for the colours. I now have a coordinated bedroom. This pretty bedding feels luxurious and completely brightens up the room. It would look even better if I could be bothered to run the iron over it...

Did I tell you about the time I met Kirstie at a party? Of course I did.

I have to say I hadn't heard of Palmers Department Store before they contacted me, but I'll definitely be browsing there in the future. As well as duvet cover sets they also sell many other great value items for the home, including towels, tableware, glassware and gifts. If you order by 12pm on Monday 17 December they guarantee delivery by Christmas.

Disclosure: Palmers Department Store sent me a duvet cover and pillow cases to review


13 December 2012

One of My Recipes is in The Hallmark Advent Calendar

I was delighted to be asked to contribute something Christmassy to the Hallmark Advent Calendar.

Behind every door is a top tip, craft idea or a recipe. You'll have to wait until 21st December to see my contribution, but I can tell you it's a simple recipe for something that your child could make for Santa. My boys love putting cookies and carrots on a plate for Santa on Christmas Eve. Last year they thought the big man would like a glass of milk as well. This year we may make some boozy suggestions, after all it is freezing at night.

There are some great ideas hiding behind the doors for the first couple of weeks of Advent, you may recognise some of the names of the contributors. I can't wait to see what's behind the other doors.

Disclosure: I was paid for my contribution to the calendar and to publish this post.

12 December 2012

How To Do... Super Speedy Wrapping

Have you always wanted to know how to become a super speedy wrapper?

Watch this:

The PTA Christmas Shop, 700 presents wrapped using handbands:

3M Products used in this vlog:
Scotch Pop-up Tape Handband Dispenser
Scotch Comfort Scissors 20cm

If you like stationery take a look at the 3M shop. I've been trying out loads of different products recently, the double sided tape dispenser is perfect for card making.

Scotch currently have a weekly mystery gift giveaway on their Facebook page. For all the info and for some clues to the answers check out my It's a Wrap post.

Disclosure: Scotch are paying me to wrap my Christmas presents (on video). I have to wrap my Christmas presents anyway, so yay.
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