We’ve been mugging!

Well. That may not be entirely true.

That might have been a plot to get you to read this post.

We’ve been decorating mugs!

Its nearly Christmas and let’s face it, we love to inflict  gift handmade things to parents and grandparents that have been hand crafted by the kids.

So we decided on a little mug craft.

So I googled stuff and read that sharpies on mugs, baked in the oven works just fine. Apparently, it works just fine until you try and wash said mug!

The sharpies themselves were a bit of a problem, too. The orange was less of an orange and more of a watery brown so the carrots on our snowmen’s faces look a little like they’re past their sell by date!

But we had a great time anyway colouring in our mug gifts for family members. We’ll be adding sachets of snowman soup to the mugs nearer to Christmas and will be giving them as (ornamental) gifts.

The boys really enjoyed doing these although writing on a round mug isn’t easy when you’re only just mastering writing at all!

If you’ve got a craft post to share with us please leave it in the comments below and we might try it (if it’s not too difficult!).

Obviously we had to get out ALL. THE. THINGS.

Obviously we had to get out ALL. THE. THINGS.

Now that I’ve done a little extra googling I’ve discovered that there are better options for this activity than regular sharpie markers, such as their oil based paint pens. Perhaps I’ll invest in some of those for next time.

Some other crafts we’re going to try this Christmas include making our own decorations for the house.

I’m thinking all kinds of paper, glue and glitter use with some ribbon thrown in for good measure!

I think I’ll do a bit of extra research next time to make sure we’re using the right tools for the job. I feel a morning on Pinterest coming on!

Mini Creations

Reliving my youth: Roller Skates & Gloworms

I’ll be 33 in January.

I’m not keen on that idea to be honest. I quite liked being 23 but I can barely remember that time now. Time flies whether you’re having fun or not, it seems!

So because I’m feeling all nostalgic here are a few things that make me look back wistfully on my childhood.

I’d love to know what reminds you of your childhood. Those of us born in the 80’s really had some wonderful toys!

1) My Little Pony

They’re back on our shelves nowadays but when I was six or seven I had a collection of the original My Little Pony toys. I adored them. I brushed their manes and played what we used to call ‘make believe’ though I’m sure it has a more modern term now, like ‘small world play’!

2) Roller Skates

My friend Kim (from next door but one) had the coolest roller skates, but I had a hand-me-down pair that ‘would do’. One Christmas, I desperately wanted some new ones of my own but we didn’t have a lot of money and I knew my chances were slim. So on Christmas morning when I came downstairs, I wasn’t expecting to find the most perfect pair of pink and purple roller skates. My heart almost burst with excitement! I hope my mum knew how happy those roller skates made me that morning, and that she felt it was worth every penny she’d struggled to save for them.

3) Playing Shop

My kids have shopping trolley, plastic food, cash register, pretend money … All to play shop with. We had the kitchen table, tins from the cupboard, imaginary money and an apron with a pocket so we could pretend to be market traders or shop keepers. There’s something a little bit sad really about the way we teach our children today. I’ve spent money on these miniature pretend items when one of my favourite games was something that used just stuff from the cupboard and some great imagination.

4) Gloworm

When Gloworms were relaunched a few years ago I was really excited about it and vowed to buy one for my son who was very young at the time. I did buy one, but they’re just not the same as they used to be! I had a green Gloworm and I loved it like no other soft toy I’ve ever owned. Do you remember those?

gloworm

The Original Gloworm

Roof Repair Nightmare

It was a big weekend for me and my husband.

His brother was getting married in the morning and my husband was due to be best man. I was due to be bridesmaid for his wife to be. So we decided an early night would be a good idea.

I woke at 3.15am to the sound of dripping water. Half asleep and irritated I headed to the bathroom to turn off the tap, muttering about how kids just don’t understand how important it is to turn off the taps. Not only for the sake of saving water, but for the sake of saving my sanity!

Flicking on the bathroom light I glanced at the sink taps.

No drip.

Then I saw it. A huge pool of water on the bathroom floor. My eyes darted up and my fear was confirmed – the ceiling was leaking!

3.15am on the morning we were due to spend the entire day and night away from home, and the rain was pouring down outside … and in! It was a nightmare.

Now in some kind of state between fury and panic, I climbed up the ladders into the loft. Sure enough, there was a gap in the roof tiles, silently mocking me as I stood there in my pyjamas watching it welcome the rainwater into the house.

I didn’t have the time to arrange roof repairs – especially today!

At 8am – and believe me, I had to sit on my hands not to phone round before that – I managed to get hold of a roofer in the area (I did find this website but thought their call out fee might be too much!). I think he heard the sheer panic in my voice and agreed to come out to the roof first thing. He managed to do a quick-fix and then come back the following afternoon (on a Sunday, bless him!) to finish the job off.

I’ve never been happier to see a workman turn up at my door – he was my saviour in overalls!

Bridesmaid & Best Man

We made it to the wedding!

Louis & Rowan’s Christmas Wish Lists

I was going to do a gift guide but in all honesty I haven’t the foggiest what other people’s kids want for Christmas. The only lists I’m qualified to tell you about are the ones my kids have ‘written’. So here’s a quick run through of what the Hannah boys are hoping for this December 25th.

boy with cat

Louis’ Christmas Wish List

The very first thing at the top of Louis’ Christmas wish list is perhaps the simplest of asks. No matter what the occasion, if Louis is asked what he’d like as a gift the answer will usually be ‘a football’.

I like the look of this one – it’s lightweight (20% lighter than a standard size 5), it’s reasonably priced and it’s specifically designed for younger players. The lining is foam backed too which makes it softer on little feet.

It’s called the Mitre 360 Junior Lite and it the general price seems to be somewhere around £9.00

Mitre 360 Junior Lite Football

Coming a very close second on Louis’ wish list is the new Skylanders game. He received Skylanders Swap Force last Christmas and is keen to add the new Trap Team game to his collection.

Of course that means there are more Skylanders to collect too, but at least it gives people something to get for him – I feel pretty useless when family ask what he wants and I can’t tell them!

Skylanders Trap Team starter kit

Thirdly, Louis has not stopped asking for pretty much anything he sees by SpyNet. There are a range of products but unsurprisingly he has his eye on the more expensive kit. So wish me luck on that!

spynetSo that’s a shortened version of Louis’ list. I’m sure there will be more as the weeks go by and the TV adverts become relentless!

Now for …

 

Rowan's Wish List

This boy is a different kettle of fish altogether! His Wish list is longer than the Great Wall of China, but I have chosen three of the ones he ‘definitely, definitely needs’.

First of all, this.

batman go kartBatman go karts do not take up a small amount of room. They take up a lot of room. A lot of room is something we don’t have. Do you see my problem here?

But this is the thing that Rowan really, really wants.

Anyone want to stick a quick extension on the back of my house?

Moving swiftly on, we’re staying at the town of has-anyone-got-a-money-tree as Rowan repeatedly shows me this in the catalogue.

I present you with … The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Secret Sewer Lair. Try saying that when you’re drunk!

TMNT SSLLast pick off Rowan’s list is a slightly less expensive one at around £60.00. I love this brand for children and would be happy to pay the money because I know it would stand the test of time.

Thirdly, Rowan chooses the Playmobil Police Station.

playmobilSo that’s it – a snippet of the boys’ wishlists for this Christmas.

Anyone know next week’s lotto numbers?

The Beginning of our Wildlife Trusts Adventures

I recently posted about wanting to get out more during the colder months and I received the perfect motivation to do just that when the postman called today. Not only did he bring our family membership cards for The Wildlife Trusts but he also brought the kids’ Wildlife Watch membership packs.

Inside the packs are loads and loads of fun things! I’m really genuinely impressed with what the boy received for being members. These types of organisations are always hoping to raise funds wherever they can so we were happy to sign up for membership.

This is what we got in the pack.

 

Wildlife Trusts Membership Pack

Wildlife Trusts Membership Pack

Wildlife Trusts Membership Pack

Wildlife Trusts Membership Pack

The boys each received a Wildlife Watcher’s Handbook, a sheet of stickers, a membership card and a pin badge. You can have up to four children on each family membership at no extra cost and they would all get these. The pack also contained a magazine, information leaflet and contact details for all local groups. There are two groups that run near to us on a monthly basis and we’re really looking forward to getting involved with those.

The Wildlife Watcher’s Handbooks the boys received are really brilliant. There is a section at the back which teaches them how to make various wildlife-friendly things, such as a mini nature reserve. These activities are brilliant for bringing the family together and getting outdoors.

'How to' pages inside the childrens' handbooks.

‘How to’ pages inside the childrens’ handbooks.

I’d highly recommend joining the Wildlife Trust in your area. As I have already mentioned, it’s cheap enough to join and not only are you creating and pursuing an interest as a family but you are contributing to the conservation of nature in your local area. It’s definitely a win-win situation.

If you’d like more information, or to join, visit the national website and find your local trust.

 

 

The Family Pet Show, Manchester

Recently we were invited along to The Family Pet Show in Manchester. The show was over a weekend where we were already quite busy as a family, but Louis and I went along and spent some time at the show while Ted & Rowan were at the match.

Held at Event City in Manchester, the venue is easy to get to in the car. It’s next door to The Trafford Centre, the parking is ample and the venue is huge. It’s somewhat more difficult to get to via any other method of transport, but it is certainly accessible by bus as well even if the journey takes longer.

A warm welcome awaited us on arrival at Event City and we were given details of the day’s schedule, making it easy to plan our visit.

Our first stop was to see the gentle, content donkeys brought to the show by The Donkey Sanctuary. These beautiful animals are looked after at a sanctuary in Manchester and you can sponsor them or just go and visit them at the sanctuary. The centre provide donkey assisted therapy, information, support and education all over the world.

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Next stop was the ferrets as Louis particularly wanted to see the ferret racing. Unfortunately, the ferrets had other ideas and were too tired!

Undeterred, we moved on to Crocodile Joe’s. Now I’m not saying I’m frightened of spiders but I certainly kept my distance from their tarantula. Some children were brave enough to handle her – but not me!

Louis asked Crocodile Joe if he had any Frill Necked Lizards. Apparently, he does! They weren’t at the show that day but Louis was impressed anyway.

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Another stand we stopped at for a little while was Harringtons. I’ve talked before on the blog about the lovely people from Harringtons and how Betsy has been brought up on their food since the day we brought her home. I’ve a soft spot for Harringtons, so I was pleased to see that they have now launched a new range of dog and cat treats and that the brand seems to be growing.

If your four legged friend would like to try the dog treats for themselves, I believe that current stockists include Asda, Sainsburys, Waitrose and Ocado. I can’t find any information on stockists for the cat treats but if you email Harringtons (details on their website) I’m sure they would be happy to help.

Another product that caught my eye was something called Frozzys. This is ice-cream for dogs! It’s lactose free, suitable for dogs of all ages and apparently it tastes good too! I intend to try this with Betsy and see what she thinks.

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Moving away from products, we stopped by and had a chat with the Lancashire Wildlife Trusts people. What lovely people they were! So passionate about their organisation! We spent quite some time talking with them. Louis loves his wildlife and so he had plenty to talk about while I signed us up for a family membership.

You can sign up for membership and pay whatever you choose per month – I opted for £8 as loosely speaking that makes it a quid each per week. Wildlife is something we’re all fans of in our house so we’re happy to support it. We’re going to head down to our local centre this weekend, in fact.

When our membership pack arrived, the children’s pack had two of everything inside so that the boys could have their own membership cards, stickers and activity books amongst other things. They were really excited about their new memberships!

I could go on and on about who and what we saw at The Family Pet Show, but honestly, you really should see for yourself. Details of future events should be live on their website in due course or you can subscribe to the website to receive updates from them.

All in all, Louis and I had a wonderful time at The Family Pet Show and we’ll be returning next year.

Win a Pamper Hamper!

WIN ME!

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All you have to do is comment with a way of contacting you if you win.

Simples!

Good luck!

Prize provided by Grumpyishmum. Contents may vary. I will choose a winner using random.org and my decision is final. No cash alternative. Competition ends 28th November 2014 at 6pm

Meet Santa at Chill Factore, Manchester

iphone import 151014 621

Two years ago we took the boys along to the Santa’s Grotto at Chill Factore in Manchester and I can honestly say that it’s one of the best grotto events I’ve ever taken them to (and they’ve been to a fair few!) because it isn’t just about meeting the big man himself.

The wait in the queue can be long and boring when you’re queuing at yuletide but at Chill Factore Santa’s elves are on hand to read festive stories to the children while they wait. This really helps to keep the children from losing interest or being fed up with the whole thing by the time they reach their ultimate destination.

Meeting Santa at Chill Factore

This month at Chill Factore, you can also combine meeting Santa with meeting Peppa Pig! On the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd November Peppa will be at Chill Factore to meet and greet the children. Places for this are booking up quickly though so head over to Chill Factore’s website to book – they’ve even got some money saving offers on at the moment so there really is no time like the present (no pun intended!).

We always enjoy going to Chill Factore. Here are a few snaps from Mini Moose land and The Snow Park from our last visit.

Mini Moose Land at Chill Factore, Manchester

Mini Moose Land at Chill Factore, Manchester

Mini Moose Land has an array of play equipment suitable for the under fours. It’s the perfect introduction to snow play for little people. There is also teeny tiny slope for them to use – Rowan is a fearless four year old and he still enjoys this park of Chill Factore.

Small children can ride on an overgrown foam penguin, whoosh down the slope in a donut or relax in the Mini Moose Land hut which is a cosy wooden play house, perfect for pint-sized snow lovers.

If you book now, you can get some great offers for Snow Park Passes too. Chill Factore is definitely worth a visit this Christmas. This is a snippet of the fun we had in the Snow Park which is suitable for adults and children aged four and over (minimum age for the luge is 6).

My November Wish List

You may remember that in October I posted a wishlist.

Well I’ve decided to one every month – so here’s what I’m lusting after in November!

esprit dress

Photo courtesy of Espirit.co.uk

I think this purple lace dress from Esprit is just beautiful and it would definitely make me feel like the belle of the ball on a night out!

I love the sophisticated lace detail and the length would be perfect for me. I don’t like my dresses to be too short because I feel like people might get more than they bargained for in the event of a wayward gust of wind!

I couldn’t possibly go barefoot though, so I would have to buy these beautiful shoes too, from the same site …

shoes

Photo courtesy of Esprit.co.uk

I love the simplicity of these courts, though I’m not sure how I’d get on with the pointed toes and my wide feet. The practicalities don’t stop me needing these shoes in my life though!

A new lip gloss wouldn’t go amiss and I love the colour of this Heirloom Mix Cremesheen Lipglass by MAC. This one is called Courting Chic. I do like darker colours on my lips so I think it would please me greatly to find this in my Christmas Stocking!

MAC Lipgloss

Photo courtesy of MACcosmetics.co.uk

The last thing on my November wishlist is going to be jewellery. I don’t wear much on a day to day basis, but I do like to wear some when I go out. I love love love this bangle from Beaverbrooks. It’s filled with Swarovski crystals so it would be so sparkly!

Who doesn’t love sparkly things!

Swarovski Bangle

Photo courtesy of beaverbrooks.co.uk

What’s on your wish list this month?

I’d love for you to share what you have your eye on in the run up to Christmas!

Christmas Dinner With a Twist!

This year will be this first time I’ve ever cooked Christmas dinner myself. In all of my 22 (plus a few. Okay… ten) years I’ve never had to tackle the mammoth task that is Christmas Dinner. Until now.

I’m hoping that it’ll just be the four of us at home, I can probably manage that!

I’m not sure we’ll go for the traditional dinner though. I’m thinking something like this:

To Start

Usually we’ll have either prawn cocktail, pâté and toast or honeydew melon to start. The pâté is my personal favourite, usually, but I think this year we’ll go for baked Camembert with blueberry jam.

Sounds lovely doesn’t it? I found this recipe from Food Network so I’ll give it a try in the next week or two and see what it’s like.

Camembert with blueberry jam

Photo Courtesy of Food Network.

The Main Event

The usual suspects are turkey and goose for us. This year, I quite fancy some lamb instead. We all like roast lamb in our house but Ted and I aren’t really keen on turkey. It seems silly to eat something we don’t like much!

I’ll slow cook the lamb in the oven overnight on Christmas Eve so it’ll hopefully be beautifully tender for the big day!

Dessert

Though I’m not averse to a bit of cake and custard, I do prefer savoury food. For me, there’s nothing more enjoyable than a cheese board a little while after dinner. A selection of good quality cheeses, grapes, chutneys and fresh bread from the bread machine. Delicious!

Some people, like my mum, don’t always cook the traditional three courses but instead opt for a family favourite or a buffet. Some people stay in while others will go to a pub or restaurant to eat their Christmas Dinner.

What will your family be eating this Christmas? Maybe you could share your ideas and give me some more inspiration?