31 December 2013

Project 365 Week 52

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This weeks Project 365 is a little longer as we have the last few days of the year too so it's a 10 day stint.

The first few days the boys had fun wearing daddies gloves, counting their pennies and building their Chuggington train track as high as possible.

Christmas day came and they were overjoyed at getting to open all of their presents. We then went to my parents for dinner and the following day, Boxing Day, we prepared dinner ourselves for my husbands mum who was coming down for dinner. So lucky for us, we got to have 2 Christmas dinners. Although the one I made was piled really high.

Getting to play with all of their toys, the boys loved trying out the Post Box game they had been given. Sorting through the colours and making sure they went to the correct Post Box was fun.

We have been offered an ambassador programme role (which will be revealed in the following month) and I have been trying to get a photo of the three of us. This has proven harder than I thought.

Television has been so boring this Christmas and so instead we put the radio on and enjoyed listening to Radio Aire. Then, Miley Cyrus came on and Thomas started dancing. I was laughing so hard as it looked liked he was twerking, just like Miley, yet he just thought it was funny.

Boys just love climbing don't they? After seeing the bin men come up the street. Both boys were stood on their cupboards watching as the bins got emptied.

And lastly, New Years Eve. We stayed in with the boys and watched films and played with toys. Thomas is currently learning to write and to help him, I write words in light coloured pencil so that he can copy over them with a darker colour. He's getting better every day. It might not be perfect but at least he is trying.

I can't believe that I have managed a full year of taking photos every day and cannot wait to start 2014's Project 365!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

24 December 2013

Buyakilt.com Review & Competition

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Buyakilt.com is an online Scottish Highland dress retailer. They offer an extensive range of kilts, kilt outfits and kilt accessories, as well as some Scottish gifts and tartan accessories. They chose online sales so that they could minimise operating costs and reduce their overall environmental impact. Working with a vast list of manufacturers, they find the best deal for the customer and make sure that the price is as low as possible. 

After chatting to them by email we were sent a lovely Thomson Grey Tartan Blanket Rug which is priced at £25.20. This gorgeous wool blanket is thick and warm and really cosy.

It shows on the website , that it is more cream than grey as stated, but it is in fact grey which is why I chose it. I wanted it to go in our spare bedroom as a throw over the bed and that room is black, white and grey and the little pop of colour in this blanket stands out loads.

This 100% pure wool tartan blanket is sure to keep you warm and cosy, measuring approximately 5ft x 6ft it is big enough to wrap around a few people to keep them warm and also it makes an ideal throw for a bed or sofa.

I love the colours in it, the grey, black and red work so well together and the fringed edges give it that extra special touch. I can feel this being a big hit over these winter months to wrap around the boys and keep them warm and it will even work well in Summer too as with the size of it, we could even use it as a picnic blanket and because it is heavyweight and durable I know that it will withstand the test of time too.

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Now, how would you like to win a tartan blanket of your very own? Well then you're in luck. For your chance to win a tartan blanket from buyakilt.com all you have to do to is fill in the Rafflecopter form below.

Please remember to check the T&C's at the bottom of the Rafflecopter application and our full terms here. This giveaway is open to the UK only and any entries left that do not follow the mandatory entries will be disqualified. After the one compulsory entry of answering the given question the Rafflecopter will then open a round of optional extras, you do not have to enter any of these but these will give you extra entries into the competition.

And please, if you are commenting on the blog as 'anonymous' can you please write your name in the comment otherwise I cannot count your entry.

Ends midnight 12th January

Project 365 Week 51

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We all went to the park and I'm sat there freezing whilst Thomas is running round with just his t-shirt on. No matter how much I asked him to get his coat, scarf, hat and gloves on, he exclaimed that he was too hot! Charlie just had to show off his new hat that he had chosen from Tesco. 

I am always looking for bargains and after seeing another blogger (MummyOfTwo) write about Wrappz phone skins, I noticed that she had a code for a free skin and took no time at all in ordering my very own. I got to edit it and choose the writing, colours etc and I love it! 

Today we went up to school to see Thomas in The Nativity. He was great!

This morning we came downstairs to see that Santa had visited. He always pops by the week before Christmas to make sure that the boys are being good. He had left a treat of some gold coins so we knew that he had visited. 

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Christmas activities that Vertbaudet had on their website and then to my shock they sent me a present to say thank you. A box of beautiful baubles which we put straight on the tree. 

After finishing all of our Christmas shopping we treated ourselves to a meal at Handmade Burger. I had a cheese burger, Simon went for chicken, bacon and cheese and Charlie had a cheese burger junior meal too. 

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Coping With Stress At Christmas

Stress has become a real problem for the modern world, affecting individuals everywhere and Christmas is probably the most stressful time of year. The main factor being money troubles which can cause problems between couples. 

Apparently, the UK is ranked 56th country in the world when it comes to stress levels with Nigeria being the most stressed out place to live. This infographic from Benenden, shows the Christmas stress around the globe and shows how people in different countries combat stress. 

 
 Coping With Christmas Stress - An infographic by the team at Benenden

In this country, we have our own way of dealing with things. We take holidays and trips to try and get away from everyday life. This may work for the break away but will not work in the long run. We also sometimes try counselling to try and deal with our problems although I know this isn't suitable for everyone. 

Maybe we should take a leaf out of other countries book when it comes to dealing with things. 

Take Germany for instance. They have a dedicated phone line for if you want to just ring up and vent your anger at someone. Scream, shout and get your anger out without affecting the people you love. Or, like in China, where meditation is used to reduce stress. 

Although my husband isn't so bad as some people, he does have a little bit of an OCD and when he is stressed, this becomes even worse. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a mental health condition that affects almost half of the population. It makes sufferers experience obsessional thoughts which will urge them to do something. 

My husband has urges to clean things. Nothing in our house can be dirty as his mind wont let him sit down and just ignore it. He has to clean until spotless and when he is stressed on top of this, it makes for uncomfortable watching. He will drive himself mad with scrubbing things sometimes. Recently Jackie Chan revealed that he suffered with OCD stating that he always has to have a clean table and everything needs to be neat and tidy for him showing that anyone can suffer from this condition. 

I think stress is one of the things that causes a lot of problems, especially at this time of year, and if we all just could learn to deal with it better, then there may be less arguments and other problems that it can cause. 

23 December 2013

Squirrel Point Hoodie from Lucas Frank

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I am always searching for good quality childrens clothing for the winter months. Something to keep them warm but still look nice too. Products that look truly British and have the quality to match. well, that's where Lucas Frank come in. They sell boys t-shirts, polos, hoodies and sweats which all feature their trademark nautical logo of a lighthouse. 

All of the Lucas Frank garments have been designed by some of the best designers and using the finest materials too. They are obsessed with the perfect details and so you’ll find that every button, every stitch, everything has been made with care and attention. 

At the moment they are strictly a boys range making items from 18 months to 10 years old. We were sent a Squirrel Point Hoodie in Navy to put to the test.  

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The navy colour is bold yet still bright and the coordinating peach lining matches perfectly to bring out its fun side. The monogrammed buttons and the embroidered logo show off the true quality of the item. 

All of the seams have been double stitched to ensure that they will last the years and the hoodie is machine washable up to 40 degrees and, after washing it now a few times, I can assure you that it comes out just as nice as it went in. Still bright and still in shape. 

Thomas is tall for his age and so we picked size 5-6 years and this fits him perfectly. I would definitely recommend Lucas Frank to all of my friends and lovely readers and at the moment, they have a 50% off promotion running for Christmas so get in their whilst you can!

22 December 2013

Fireman Sam My First Notebook from KD UK

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One thing the boys always try to do is to play with my laptop. Every time I leave it, even for just a second, they will jump onto it and tap away, usually posting randomness to Facebook.
So I have been on the lookout to find childrens laptops that not only look like the real thing but have a childish flare too.

The Fireman Sam My First Notebook looks just like a real laptop as it has the classic fold function, with eight folders on the desktop depicting scenes from all of the rescues taking place in Pontypandy, as well as a full alphanumeric keyboard and working mousepad too. 

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Thomas can easily work the laptop too by using the mouse to navigate through the folders and play one of the four games on it. He can choose between learning character names, fun facts, numbers, colours, letters or listening to music.

The laptop helps to:

  • Introduce numbers
  • Teach colours and their names
  • Help children to learn letters and the alphabet
  • Develop childrens observation skills

I love the look of this laptop because it is bright and stands out which is always good for children. The voice speaks loud and clearly so that Thomas and Charlie can easily identify what it is talking about and I also like that whilst you are learning about Fireman Sam and everything to do with the cartoons, it is also helping to educate in numbers and colours too.

Thomas likes to listen to it and copy the facts and also point out who everyone is. He enjoys the fact that it is all based around Fireman Sam, as he is Thomas' favourite character, and points out that it is usually 'Naughty Norman' that causes the fires.

Overall, this is a top toy and one that both boys will enjoy for time to come. Check out the KD UK website to find out more about their ranges. 

Portable North Pole

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Portable North Pole, known as PNP, is brought to us by UGroupMedia and the elves at their Research and Development Centre in Santa’s Village. Portable North Pole is a magical online platform that lets Santa get in touch with all the children around the world whilst he is busy working in the North Pole. 

Just simply key in a bit of information about your child and their own, personalised video message will be made. Now, you can even get letters from Santa and colouring books too which are all personal to your child. Plus, if your child has been good enough, they may even get sent a certificate to show that they are on the Good List and may even get a call from Santa himself. 

We were lucky to be able to try out the premium features for free and to see how the Thomas would react to seeing Santa talking to him personally. I decided to set it up for Thomas because Charlie is still too young to understand at the moment and I know it was all the more special for Thomas. 

After filling in a bit of information about Thomas such as where we live, his age, what he likes/dislikes etc, we also had the option for Santa to talk about something Thomas could improve with such as being better behaved or listening in school which I thought was a nice element to add. 

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We then had to decide whether Thomas would be on the naughty or nice list or somewhere in between. Now, I know children can be naughty sometimes but I don't think I could ever justify putting one of my children on the naughty list and have to deal with the heartbreak that they would feel. Children are supposed to play up from time to time, that's how they learn boundaries etc and so Thomas was always going to be on the nice list. 

And as if by magic, there it is. Thomas' own personalised video, just for him. 

Along with his video came his own certificate, letter from Santa and a colouring book. Each item personalised for him. The letter coming direct from Santa and the certificate too which showed that Thomas was on the Nice List. The colouring book will come in handy to combat the boredom in the school holidays too with all its festive pictures to colour in. 

Portable North Pole helps to connect Santa with every child so that no on misses out this Christmas. Don't forget to pop over to Portable North Pole and create a video for your child. You can opt for the free version of the video or buy an extended, premium version and optional extras too. 

21 December 2013

Gacha Stocking Fillers from TOMY

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TOMY’s collectible Gacha range has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and this year in no exception. They are a range of miniature toys and accessories are perfect pocket money toys as they are only £1 each and can be purchased from TOMY vending machines which are in Tesco stores. 

The collection includes Hello Kitty, Nintendo, Disney, Sega and many, many more but the 2013 sees new characters from Monsters University, Planes from Disney and sensational app characters from Where’s my Water. Marvel will also have a strong presence with Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and danglers from Littlest Pet Shop as well. 

The range is changing all the time with different ones available in figures, keychains, fashion accessories and stationery items and also mini Furby's too. 

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We were sent a mixture of the range. Fun pull back Racers from Mario Kart 7, a monster figure from Monsters University, a squirty duck bath toy and some Hello Kitty accessories. 

I do like this range as not only are the toys of the highest TOMY standard but being at only £1 each means that children can use their pocket money to boy them and easily start their own collection. 

With the huge range and different items, there is something for everyone from Gacha and these will make perfect stocking fillers this Christmas. What better way to start off your children's collections. 

'This is one collection that will keep boys and girls coming back for more so make sure you don’t miss out!'

20 December 2013

Immink Childs Jersey Hoody

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Immink Kids are a childrens clothing company that create gorgeous clothes which are organic, made in the UK and are environmentally friendly too.

Their inspirations come from the great British countryside and they want to make clothing that children can enjoy and be comfortable in that are of great quality. Made in Norfolk, each piece of Immink clothing can be enjoyed throughout that years as all the fabrics have been designed to wash well, age beautifully and last the years. 

We were asked to pick our favourite piece from their selection and after much deliberation, I decided on a gorgeous Jersey hoody for Charlie. This 100% organic cotton hoody is a gorgeous navy colour but looks a bit more blue/greyish on. It has contrast rib jersey trims in a bright yellow, sunshine colour and is marked with the Immink logo. 

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It has been made from a soft and cosy cotton jersey which is not only comfortable to wear but also will keep Charlie warm on chilly days. 

Usually, I would hate to purchase items that have a mix of colours like this as I would be afraid of the colours running and fading but Immink say that the hoody can be in a machine wash at 40 degrees so I took no time in testing that out.
I was really surprised to see it exit the washing machine still bright and no running at all and still in shape. Even now after a few washes and being wore outside and covered in mud and chocolate, it still looks brand new.

I must admit that I do love this hoody, the colours are lovely and compliment each other beautifully. The quality of the hoody makes me confident that it will last the years and, once Charlie grows out of it, I will be able to pass it to family members who will be able to use it for years to come.

The Immink Hoody, priced at £30, is a little more than I would usually like to pay for clothing for my children but actually, I think that an investment piece like this that will be in use over and over, it is not a bad price at all.  

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17 December 2013

Close Shave Society

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Buying for men can be so impossible sometimes. They say that they don't need anything, don't know what they want and sometimes have their own hobbies which makes it hard to find exactly what they would like. My dad is so hard to shop for any so this year I was thinking of buying him a razor set as I know it will get used. 

Close Shave Society  make and sell their own razors but with a difference. Instead of having to go out every few months and search for the correct blades for it, they have a subscription service so that they will send them direct to you every month so that you never run out. 

You can choose whatever subscription you want, to suit your budget but can purchase from one month right up to a years worth from only £6 a month which includes postage too. 

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I was sent The Houdini for Simon. This razor has 5 Gothic Arch II design, stainless steel blades which get up close and personal to give a close shave and the aloe vera strip cools and soothes the skin whilst you are shaving. 

The blades shave extremely close to the skin and my husband has said that he can feel and see the difference in the shave. His skin feels smoother and the aloe vera helps to stop his skin from drying out too. 

Overall, I think it is great that you can now sign up to a subscription service for a razor and the fact that you can continue month by month, paying for the blades and then cancel if needs be, with no fees, makes it a big plus. 

16 December 2013

Christmas from Poundland

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I am a bargain hunter. I search high and low for the best deals and the biggest bargains around. Christmas is no change either. 

It can be such an expensive time with presents to buy, decorations, sweets, biscuits, place settings and everything else to think about, the price can fly up. This year is different though as I was invited into the blogger #poundlandsanta! challenge by Poundland to see how much and the variety I could get from Poundland with £20. 

Well I couldn't wait to get there and get shopping. Choosing some lovely decorations, sweets for the boys and all those little extras to make it extra special. 

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We had changed the whole colour way of our tree and so needed a new topper. I couldn't believe that I could pick this gorgeous white one up in Poundland. I then chose some baubles to compliment our tree. 
A pack of 2 red and white stripy ones and a pack of 2 fluffy ones that are beautiful and stand out loads on the tree. 

Also, we purchased 4 garlands for the ceiling but don't currently have them up as I ran out of pins and 2 stockings which play musical tunes too. 

Christmas crackers for on the table and to pull during our dinner which have a cute red and white design on them. A pack of chocolate Christmas lollies for the boys and a tin of Danish biscuits for the grown ups so at least we all get something then. The biscuits were so nice that we have already eaten the full tin and have since popped back in for more. 

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With the rest of the money, I bought sweets and treats for the boys and for Thomas' school too as they always have a party for Christmas and we had been picked to buy sweets. Different lolly pops and sweets to hand out and a Toblerone bar for my husband who loves them. 

Last up I bought an angel brooch for myself. It is clipped onto my coat and looks so pretty. On the back it has a button which allows it to flash different colours to make it extra festive. 

I was s happy with all the goodies and Christmas items that I was able to purchase for just £20. If you want to see what else they sell then pop over to their website to see the Poundland Christmas range and every other bargains that they sell.

15 December 2013

Christmas at the Leeds Christkindelmarkt German Market


This week we have had fun at a traditional German market. The Christkindelmarkt German Market is at Millennium Square in Leeds every year and runs from the middle of November till the middle of December. Even though I have lived in Leeds for all of my life, this is the first time I have ever visited it.  

Christkindelmarkt in Leeds is one of the most established German Christmas markets in the UK and has wooden stalls, carousel rides and traditional German food and drinks. There are over 40 stalls and rides and fun for the whole family. With seasonal gifts, hand-crafted toys, jewellery and festive decorations. The speciality foods from Germany like bratwurst sausages, goulash, soups, stollen and gingerbread go down a treat and there is even a German bar, selling ale and lager, although I didn't try these as they were mega strong. 

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It was great to be out in town and seeing all of these lovely stalls and rides. Both the boys got to go on a few of the rides, the carousel had cars and vans as well as horses on it and Thomas loved driving his truck (round in circles) whilst Charlie chuckled as they were going round. 

I loved the gifts that were all handmade. These lovely Starlights which were like small white domes with a candle inside. Each dome had been carefully cut out into stars and snowflake patterns and were really pretty. They also had gifts for men which were made out of nuts and bolts that had all been welded together. One was made into a big motorbike and I know my dad, being a biker, would love one of these. I will definitely be popping back into to get one for him. 

Further along were more stalls, hook-a-duck and darts games. Thomas managed to hook a pink duck and won a pirate set which he loves and then daddy had a go at the darts and won a minion toy which Charlie claimed. 

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After our fun and frolics around the Christkindelmarkt German Market, we had a walk down past the Leeds Town Hall and towards the Trinity Centre for some lunch. Deciding to try somewhere new, we popped into TGI Fridays as none of us have been there before. 

Yummy burger and chips went down a treat. I got a beef burger and Simon went for a chicken blt which was huge. Even the boys kids meals were big too and they enjoyed the veg fingers. 

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We will definitely be popping back to the Christkindelmarkt German Market again this week but without the children and I cannot wait to sample some of their foods and drink too. 



Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Keeping The Bills Down In Winter

We all know that every gas and electric company are currently putting their bills up, if they weren't expensive enough already, the bills are going up quite a lot so that got me thinking about ways to save energy or heat my house in other ways. 

The one tip I have is to turn the thermostat down 1 degree. It is such a small difference that you probably wont even notice until you get your gas bill an it will be smaller. The hotter you choose to have it, the more expensive it gets so try to keep it as low as possible to maintain a nice temperature. 

Then we move on to things you can use to warm the house with spending a fortune. Wearing a jumper instead of having the heating on for instance. Or using hot water bottles to heat your bed rather than using radiators which heat the whole room because to be honest, it's only the bed that needs to be warm. 

Baking can be a fun activity for children to get involved with, getting to eat the results is a big plus and the oven will help to keep your house warm whilst it is cooking too. Making stews and big hearty meals will also helps to keep you warm from the inside. 

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The one thing I have been thinking about in the long term though is maybe getting solar panels that will help to run our house and save fuel costs over time. Not only can they run all of the electric in the house but can be used to heat water so you can be fully self-sufficient and not need to use much gas either. 

Solar panels do cost quite a bit of money in the first instance but in the long run will save us a fortune and you can buy everything you would need from BayWa r.e. Solar Systems who are a leading solar products supplier with over 30 years of UK solar PV experience. They even advise on how best to install the products too and will try their best to meet your needs. 

I would love to be able to save money over the years and eventually not have to pay the pesky gas and electric bills but for now I will have to settle with hot water bottles and jumpers to keep the bills down this winter. 

Inch Blue Christmas Range

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The boys have way too many Christmas things but when I see them, I just can't help myself and have to buy them. Funky jumpers, funny looking hats and now cute shoes too. 

Inch Blue have a huge selection of childrens soft-soled shoes that are funky and bright. They are a family run business based in South Wales and they make their shoes knowing that all of the components are the very best quality available and environmentally friendly too. 

Inch Blue shoes have been designed to give total comfort for little growing feet. They are made exclusively from soft natural leather allowing your baby's feet to breathe. I am always talking about and telling people how young children should not be wearing hard shoes as they can affect how feet grow and cause problems in later life and so to hear that a shoe company are thinking about this too is great. 

Their range of fun, fresh designs is what they are best known for with over 100 different styles to choose from and all made within the UK. The only choice you have is what design you will pick. From princesses and animals, to sporty styles and farmyard friends, there really is a pair suitable for everyone. And now they even have a Christmas range too. 

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When I got in touch with Inch Blue, they were very pleasant and happy for us to work with them in doing a review of their Christmas range. After chatting away, we decided on a pair for each of the boys. I couldn't choose from them and all resorted to asking the boys themselves to pick. In the end it was Red Rudolf ones for Thomas and Baby Blue Penguin ones for Charlie. 

Both pairs can be purchase in various sizes to fit from newborn to up to 6 years old. It is nice for a company to think of the older children that might want funky designs too. 

Once ordered, the shoes are put into production and then sent out. We weren't waiting very long at all for them to say that they had to be cut, stitched and fitted together before being sent out. They come in clear plastic bags with a press-stud fastening so you can see the bright designs straight away. 

I quickly took a photo of them in their packaging before the boys pinched them off me to try on.

Thomas loves his reindeer shoes with their bright red design and funky reindeer stitched lovingly onto the front. The reindeer has a sparkly nose to make them extra special too. Charlie loves his 'peggin' (penguin) shoes and every time someone comes to visit us, he grabs them and wants them on straight away to show them off. 

The suede non-slip soles are fantastic for when the boys are running around the kitchen as they stop them for slipping over and the elasticated ankles means that they fit better and stay on too. 

Overall I can say that myself and both boys are happy with these shoes. The quality, durability and the thought that have been put into them makes them perfect for young children and the quirky designs and bright colours appeal to young children too.  
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14 December 2013

The Christmas Boutique

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The Christmas Boutique was started to offer a great selection of Christmas ornaments and decorations in one place where you can order 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to buy amazing decorations for your home and garden. 

Their website is easy to browse and having collections and sub headings makes the experience even simpler. You can choose right down to your own theme and go from there to coordinate your Christmas. Each piece on the website has been carefully selected to make sure it offers value and durability and looks good too. 

I love that there isn't just the regular baubles and tinsel but there are more personal and retro items too. We received a package of tree items from them. A cute material tree shaped decoration and a matching star and a set of 3 mini stockings.

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The set of three stockings come in at £9.99 and are ideal for holding little treats. Each one has been finished with a button detail & faux fur edging and a small handle for hanging. 

The knitted stockings are the perfect size for hanging on the Christmas Tree and they do look really nice on it too. We opted instead though to get some suckers and stick them to our window underneath our 'Merry Christmas' sign and they look great from the outside. 

I love the Christmas tree and the star decorations. They are priced at £5.49 each but look so pretty on our tree. They are handmade and I think they look really unique. With coordinating red & green fabrics, the green is slightly frayed on the edges which gives it a rustic feel. The little wooden button finishes them off perfectly.

Overall, I love the style of these items and the fact that they are so durable means that they will last the years too. 

Project 365 Weeks 49 & 50

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A fortnight worth again (yes, I am useless!).

Charlie enjoys playing outside and keeping occupied whilst Thomas is at school. We did this twice this week to try and get some fresh air and have some fun. Playing on the trampoline, with the balls and running around the garden to keep warm too. 

We eventually got the Christmas tree up after collecting all of our decorations. There were chocolate baubles on the tree too although I think the Christmas Elves have visited us during the night and got a little peckish (well that's what the children think anyway, I'm keeping quiet!)

Charlie got his foot stuck in a bucket too and Thomas loved the smell of my flowers and making Christmas cards for his teachers. 

The last one is of myself and Thomas having a dance. The Sofia the First theme tune just gets us in the dancing mood and we got up and boogied along to it.  

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What is it with children and boxes? Oh well, Charlie loved playing in an empty crisp bow and Thomas kept pulling him around the room in it too. I remember playing see-saw when I was younger too and both boys now play it all the time since Thomas picked it up from school although they do seem to go a bit mental sometimes whilst playing it. 

I recently won some Rocket Dog shoes on their Facebook page and couldn't wait to show them off once I received them. These lovely boots which I had actually been eyeing up for ages.

We also visited the Christkindelmarkt German Market in Leeds this week and the boys got to go on some fab rides and play some fun games too. 

Charlie has learnt from Thomas now and constantly goes into the kitchen climbing onto things. Today I caught him in the treat cupboard standing on our washing basket. Got to be careful that he doesn't fall off though so I am constantly chasing him around now. Daddy got a new game today and Thomas straight away got stuck into playing it. He loves car games.

The final photo is what I have come in to just now. I left the room to make dinner and came back to this. The Chuggington track broken into pieces, a snowman laid across the floor and the boys have made a bed, using the cushions, on the floor. 

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Blue Wave Furby Boom

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Furbys is back, but this time with a Boom. Those weird looking toys that every child seemed to want when I was younger are now back and better than ever. Not only do they have their weird and wacky own language but you can now raise virtual Furblings by using an iPod, iPad or iPhone. 

The Furby Boom is available in various colours but we chose Blue Wave as I love the colours. A cute mixture of vivid blue coloured waves with turquoise ears and feet, he really is a cute little fellow. There is a whole range of colours to choose though, from polka dots to stripes and many more.

Furbys will recognise when other Furbys are present and will strike up conversation which is quite funny to see and if you get them chatting enough, you may even find them singing together too. As you get used to your own Furby, you will start to recognise the language it is speaking and what every word means.

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The Furby Boom has a mind of its own and when you interact with your Furby Boom you shape its personality. Furby Boom has twice as many responses than the original Fruby, it will remember the name you give it and you get to discover more personalities than ever before. 

The more you talk to your Furby Boom the more it will learn and reply back to you. It's up to you how you treat it and this will affect how its personality grows and how it acts. 

Only with Furby Boom can you hatch and raise digital Furby Furblings.

It does come with a small instruction booklet which is good to have for when connecting to the app and mainly to work out how to shut it off. It does like to chat a lot and so it was great to work out how to get it to go quiet after playing with it. 

Interactive toys are one of the hottest toy choices for this generation and the Furby Boom is one of the Dream toys of 2013 here at Argos. Furby Boom is a must have toy this Christmas time and I can't wait to see a certain face light up when they unwrap this present.

Furby Boom retails at around £59.99 but you should be able to get a good deal on it at this time of year. 

13 December 2013

‘Tis the seasons to be planning your Christmas party

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Planning at Christmas can be quite stressful if it’s unorganised. If you’re thinking about throwing a party there are a few simple sets to follow that will help everything go without a hitch and leave you to enjoy the period with those you love.

Plan a schedule
Since Christmas is such a popular time to celebrate, it’s important to plan you party well in advance. Check that there are no other party clashes and your party doesn’t interrupt any of your other Christmas preparations such as shopping and baking.

Make a guest list
It’s important to make a list of the people that you want to invite to ensure that the event doesn’t get out of hand. Decide whether you want an intimate gathering with your closest friends and family or a big Christmas blow-out.

Make helpful invites
Sending out invitations can seem like a simple process but there are many ways you can make these invites much more helpful for your guests. As well as addressing dates and times, informing your guests about gifts and food will ensure they’re well informed, whilst using a party planning app such as the one created by Fancy Dress Ball is an easy way in which to create a fun dress code system. 

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Create a menu
Rather than leaving food to the last minute, make it feature heavily in the event as there is nothing quite like food to really make a Christmas party. Decide on the way food will feature in your party; are you happier with finger food in a buffet style? Do you want to showcase your cooking skills with a three course meal? Make a decision and try and stick with it.

Purchase your decorations
Chances are your home will already be decorated for the Christmas season, but hosting a party means that you may need to buy a few more. Christmas bunting is very popular this year and is a simple but effective way of adding a little more pizazz to your home.

Create the ultimate holiday playlist
Using systems such as Spotify means that you can create a music playlist like no other. The system has every song you could possible think of and you could even ask friends to contribute to the playlist before arriving.  

12 December 2013

Spruce Up Your Garden This Christmas

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Our garden is a mess. Just after Thomas was born, we fixed it all up and it looked lovely but since then we have let it slide a bit and everything now looks a little tatty. The winds we had last week have bent, broken and ruined everything that was left of our garden and I think it's about time that we start to think about what we can do with it. We should really have prepared our garden for the winter months earlier than this but alas, I never seem to get things done when I say I will (I'm a bit of a procrastinator!) and so now fixing the garden is a must.

The fence we have up is not nearly high enough and I hate it, for security reasons, and want a big one. Plus the fact that when we get big gales it nearly blows out of the ground. 
It looks like a tree has malted in our garden with all the leaves that have blown in. These could really do with being picked up and maybe even investing in a compost bin for future use rather than just throwing them out. This would also give us better flowers and things if we do decide to grow some in the spring. 
We have decided to take out patio furniture down and store away over the winter so that the wood doesn't rot.
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There is also a whole host of toys in their too that have either been left out there and forgotten about or are old outdoor toys that don't get played with any more. Before the cold really sets in, I am going to go through them and and throw away old ones and then store others in the shed till it gets warmer. 

These are all things that can be done over time but for now, I have decided to just spruce it up a bit for Christmas and make it look a little better. I am a lover of shopping and so am going to need to get out and looking for outdoors decorations and quirky items that can make our garden extra special. 

Big light up snowmen that shine into the night. 'Santa Call here' signs so that the big man doesn't forget about us. You can even buy festive gnomes to give it that funky edge. I love everything weird and wonderful and will probably end up like one of those people on the news for having the most outdoor lights on their house (and the biggest electric bill too!).
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The front of our house already looks very festive. We have a huge 'Merry Christmas' sign across our patio doors and three mini stockings underneath and then a beautiful wreath on our front door too. I would have decorations up all year round if I could as I love them.

I will definitely be able to make it look pretty and very festive over these winter months but after the cold has gone, I will have to get on to fixing all the problems with it too.

9 December 2013

Foods to Keep You Warm in Winter

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With the cold weather now here, it is important to not only wrap up warm but also to eat foods that will keep you warm inside too. I try to make a lot in advance and freeze so that when this horrible weather approaches, I can simply get a lovely warming meal out of the freezer and reheat it without having to stand cooking for hours on end. I love cooking from fresh as you can see from posts I have written in the past like Cooking for Children and many more I have done.

Stew
Stews are so simple to make. It is basically just throwing everything you want included into the oven dish and cooking on a low heat, slowly. We usually have a beef stew or corned beef hash (both of which can be froze afterwards) and chuck in peas, carrots, potatoes and then different variants of veg depending on what's in season but usually go for the ones that hold together well under intense cooking. So easy to make and lovely and warming on a cold day.

Pasta
Dishes such as lasagne or spaghetti bolognaise are also great for these winter months too. Bolognaise is easy to make, frying the mince, adding the sauce (I usually use pasata and then add a few herbs or chunky veg) and then dolloping on cooked spaghetti afterwards.

Lasagne is harder though and is my favourite dish. Lasagne is all about layers and being in the correct order. Like the bolognaise, you fry the mince and add the red sauce (pasata with herbs as above) but then you also need to make a white or bechemel sauce. 

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I hate making bechamel sauce as it's all a case of mixing, mixing, mixing and not letting it go lumpy. The basic recipe though is to melt 50g of butter in a pan, mix in 50g of flour until it's a paste and then slowly add 1 litre of milk a bit at a time and make sure it mixes in well. Never stop whisking though as it will go lumpy. Once all the milk is added and mixed in, take off the heat and season to taste. 

Then layer up, mince first then a pasta sheet and then the bechamel sauce. Do then until your oven dish is full and then top with cheese and cook for about 50 minutes (or until brown and bubbling) in the oven. 

Potatoes
No, I don't mean chips and such but different dishes you can make with potatoes. In these cold months I like to make Dauphinoise potatoes a lot as they are yummy but are also warming and filling too. It is super easy to make too. 
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Thinly slice potatoes and then we start layering (I do like a bit of layering) I grate garlic into double cream and then layer some of the potatoes into an oven dish then pour over some cream (remember to season as yo go too) and keep doing this till the dish is full with potatoes being the last layer and then cook in the oven for about an hour. Note: I sometimes add a little cheese to the top too to make it extra yummy!

Then there are other versions such as Savoyarde Tartiflette which is similar to dauphinoise potatoes apart from you would be adding bacon and white wine to the mix too so make it extra sumptuous.

What ever you decide to make this winter time, make sure you keep wrapped up warm, enjoy the time making your own meals and never be afraid to try adding those little extra ingredients to make it extra special. 

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6 December 2013

Toytastic Ideas from Asda

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There is one thing you probably all know about me, I love to shop. For anything, everything. I am happiest when I am zooming round Asda with my trolley, throwing everything in. I love the fact that I can buy my hair dye at the same time as my groceries. And now it's even better because I can also buy Christmas presents too. 

Asda do a huge range of children's toys from character play sets to role play items and dress up clothing. We received 2 toys from them. An Imaginext Batman Batcave and a Wooden Market Stall. 

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Thomas loves superheroes and so he was in his element when I showed him the Imaginext Batman Batcave for him to play with. 

The Imaginext Batcave is new out and is one of the top sellers this Christmas. It comes complete with a secret compartment which hold the Batcomputer, turntables for the characters to stand on and walkways which turn outwards to connect the different areas together. 
There is a jail to lock away all of the bad guys and a garage style door for batman to ride his batcycle out of the cave. Not to mention a projectile launcher to shoot at anyone coming towards the cave. 

The batcave is quite a good sized toy and is very durable too. It has taken quite a few batterings from the dinosaurs that Batman has been fighting recently and has come out in perfect working order. I'm sure any little boy would love to receive this for Christmas.

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The market stall is so pretty. I like these role play items as it helps children's imaginations to grow whilst they are playing the shopping and stall scenes with their own little business.

The stall has a table top which is a perfect place to hold the till and weighing machine. It has 2 shelves which are easy to access and fit any groceries and small toys, ready for the shop to open and it's material roof gives it that real life experience in that it does look like a proper market stall. 

I love the cash register that comes with it. Not only does it help children to learn about money but it will also help children to learn counting as they slide the beads to each side. 

The main thing I love about it is that it is wooden and not plastic. This means that it will hold out for longer and is better looking too. A very sturdy, durable market stall which Thomas loves to play with. 

I love that I can go to Asda and buy these great toys whilst shopping and even purchase them online too. Their Big Toy Sale has drawn me in even more and we have definitely taken advantage of it, buying lots of toys for the boys and other family members for great prices.