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Showing posts from November, 2012

Getting Family to club together for Christmas Gifts

Christmas can be a difficult time for families.  The cost of toys and gifts are increasing and often so are the expectations of children.  I do not remember having huge piles of gifts at Christmas and we are trying to de commercialise  Christmas  currently . One of the ways we do this is by setting expectations of the boys realistically.  There Christmas lists only include four items and we also tell them that we and other family members provide Father Christmas with the money to  purchase  their gifts. One of the ways that we keep the costs of Christmas under control is that we get family members to contribute to "big ticket" items at Christmas. This year the boys have asked Father Christmas for new bikes.  So my in laws are contributing to the cost of them. In previous years we have all clubbed together to buy the boys  outdoor play equipment , which has been a great investment as they used it for years. I would love to know how you keep the cost of Christmas

Get Well Soup

You know the feeling.  You have the sniffles, a headache and a sore throat and all you want is to settle in to a big warm chair with a blanket and a cuddle. When I feel like this then nothing other than Heinz Tomato Soup and a cheese toastie will do.  There is something about the combination that takes me right back to my childhood and it looks like my tastes are rubbing off on Mini too. This week has been wet, very wet and he came in from school on Monday and needed a soup in a cup and toastie as it is known. So it was with interest that I read a press release from Heinz this week about their  ‘Get Well’ Soup campaign. The initiative aims to provide entertainment to children who will spend time in hospitals and hospices this Christmas, with the help of national children’s charity, Starlight. For a limited time, you can purchase, gift or share a can of ‘Get Well’ Soup via the Facebook page www.facebook.com/HeinzSoupUK ; Heinz will then donate time towards providing ente

Borax Snowflake Crystal decorations

This is something we have made for the last three years at Christmas, initially we use a borax substitute, but the crystals are not as spectacular, so this year I ordered some bora from ebay. Materials Pipe cleaners Borax or  Borax  substitute Boiling Water Blue food colouring Jug or jar You need to do is shape some decorations out of the pipe cleaners.  We make did snowflakes, hearts and christmas trees. Then mix  approximately  8  tablespoons  of Borax with a pint of boiling water.  You want the borax to be past saturation point, so that it  doesn't  all  dissolve     We tied string to our pipe cleaner designs and then popped them on a pencil and balanced them over the jug  and submerged them overnight. The next morning remove and allow to dry and then you will have sparking, crystallised decorations. Now for the Science bit: Borax is an example of crystal - "a solid with flat sides and a symmetrical sh

Next Christmas Family Outfit

Christmas Eve by mum-themadhouse featuring slipper shoes Red top / Slipper shoes / People Tree Chunky Cable Hot Water Bottle Cover / Berber Teddybear Dog Toys-Yellow , £4.37 / Buy Duck Stripe Jersey Long Set from the Next UK online shop / Buy Rugby Stripe Pyjamas Two Pack from the Next UK online shop / Buy Robin Snuggle Bottoms from the Next UK online shop / Buy Angry Birds All-In-One from the Next UK online shop / Buy Fabric Stocking from the Next UK online shop / Buy Luxury Brown Leather Moccasin from the Next UK online shop / Buy Bird Appliqué Slippers from the Next UK online shop / Buy Slipper Booties from the Next UK online shop / Buy Fabric Stocking from the Next UK online shop Next Christmas Family Outfit by mum-themadhouse featuring a colorblock sweater Colorblock sweater / Tunic / Tunic / jumper Gilet from the Next UK online shop / Buy Twist Beanie from the Next UK online shop / Imperial Pine Artificial Christmas Tree / Buy N

Hints and tips to get your children to sleep over Christmas

“Oh, I wish it could be Christmas every daaaay!” So sing Slade, every year in all the shops from mid November until New Years Eve. Love it or hate it, Christmas is coming and there is nothing that can be done to stop it. And really, what kind of scrooge would want to? Especially if there are children around, it really is THE season for kids and their excitement during the build up to the big day really is contagious! By Christmas Eve, most children’s excitement peaks and they can be emotional, having temper tantrums and arguments with their siblings one moment then laughing and screeching and dashing around the next. It’s time to calm them down otherwise; Father Christmas may just pass them by! It is all well and good to hope that threats of no presents will get these over-excited little cherubs to behave and go to sleep, but unfortunately, it won’t work. When children are as excited as this, they are actually experiencing a form of stress. A good form of stress,

Swagbucks

I am all for passive income!  So the thought of getting paid for doing what I do online anyway was a no brainer for me.  So when the Tots100 were looking for people to take part in their Christmas Swagbucks challenge I jumped at the chance to be part of it. What is Swagbucks? Swagbucks  is a site that basically rewards users for spending time online. With this site you accrue a virtual currency for doing the things that you might normally do online – using search, watching videos, chatting, playing games, doing polls and surveys etc etc – and you earn from doing it. Swagbucks has been running in the US since 2007 and is one of the country’s top 100 trafficked websites. Since 2007, the company has paid out more than $26m in rewards to its members – and now Swagbucks is available in the UK! What is the challenge? The competition is simple, whichever blogger earns the most Swagbucks by 5pm on December 14, 2012 will win a fabulous £250 gift card. So I can earn these virtual pen

Christmas Card Activity

What better way to get your little ones in the Christmas spirit at this time of year, than with some wonderful craft activities. Making Christmas cards is a great affordable activity that little ones will love and can let them express their creativity. Making cards couldn’t be easier and this guide and printout attached makes it a walk in the park. Preparation Before you start you will need a few essentials: ·          A4 Card or thick paper ·          Scissors (safety scissors – if the kids are cutting) ·          Glue (a glue stick is best – less messy!) ·          A computer attached to a printer ·          Something to colour in with: pens, pencils, paints or crayons etc. Folding the Card Take your piece of A4 white or coloured card or and fold it across the centre as shown below. The card should now be able to stand on its own ether as a standard card or a portrait one. Once folded you should have the basic template for creating any kind of greetings

Frugality & Prudence With Christmas Gifts

The Christmas season brings a great deal of tradition and joy, but with these things comes a heavy burden of expenses and responsibility. Of course, for kids the holiday season is all about the fun things. But for adults, there is a lot of work to be done, and as you go about constructing an enjoyable and pleasant Christmas, there are a number of opportunities to be frugal and prudent that you should take advantage of. In particular, buying and storing Christmas gifts calls for a great deal of careful consideration that can save you money and help you to avoid holiday disasters. Here are a few specific tips for how to stay within your budget and protect your gifts. Take Advantage Of Sales In many stores and shops, the month leading up to Christmas has a few different opportunities for store sales. Generally, these sales bring traffic to shopping centers  and can make it rather unpleasant to shop. However, if you notice any stores running sales and think you may be able to fin

Our Advent Calender and activities

So as I have told you I believe in the wonder and joys of Christmas and want to welcome my boys to the warm arms of tradition.  I want them to relish advent each year and I want them to look forward to each day rather than just Christmas day itself. I couldn't find an advent  calendar  that met our needs so in 2009 I made our advent  calendar .  It has tags on with the tasks or activities on the back.  They have changed as the boys have grown older, but have included or include: Write and post your   letter to Father Christmas Help ice the   Christmas cake Make   Christmas cards Make shapes with the cookie cutters and playdough Make  Jelly Baby  Jesus cakes Do an advent wordsearch Make this years thumbprint tree  ornament make a christmas present Make your teachers christmas gift Sort out old toys for donating Make a tree decoration Visit  Grandma's  grave Do some christmas crafting Make a borax  pipe cleaner  decoration Make  meringue  snowmen Ma

Beautify your house on a budget

Upcycling is a word I have heard used a lot recently. Upcycling is converting old, waste products into something useful and more attractive. In recent times this has become a really popular and fun activity and can encompass almost anything. For example, when the cost of a new sofa definitely out ways the benefits of the purchase of a new sofa, why not try reupholstering your old sofa or buying a nice bright throw and cushions. If your seat cushions have seen better days, consider having them re-stuff. Modifying an item of furniture can transform the energy of the room and create a nice change for a small percentage of the cost of buying a new one. Small changes in each room can really brighten up your living space without impacting your bank balance. Living Room The living room is the room where people congregate when they visit your house. If you look around your living room and think “yuck”, then it is time to spruce things up. Adding brightly coloured cush

Six Christmas gifts for crafters

Is someone in your family a mad crafter? Unless you’re involved in crafting, it’s sometimes a bit difficult to know what makes a good present for them when Christmas rolls around – what will they want, need or appreciate? Here are six suggestions to get your gift ideas flowing. [Photo by cuttlefish] A heavy-duty plastic toolbox It’s surprising how many hand-held tools crafters often have hiding away. Hammers, pliers, wire cutters, a hot glue gun… the list continues. A good, compact toolbox will be very useful if they haven’t already got one. It can also be used as a storage place for finicky bits and pieces – the kind that crafters tend to have a lot of – bits of lace or ribbon, threads, measuring tapes, pins, needles… A taster class for a new skill The great thing about having craft as a hobby is that there are so many aspects of it that you can learn. Has your crafter expressed an interest in sewing, pottery, scrapbooking, decoupage? Get them a taster sessio

Back to collage!

O ne of my earliest memories is the smell of paint and glue, that school smell, reminding me of the place where we were first encouraged to use our imagination to produce art works. I remember coming home from school proudly clutching pasta and pulses collages which used to grace the kitchen wall until the bits fell off. The art of collage-making is far from dead. It can be used to make collages of photos on students’ walls, and compiled into self-designed calendars. You can use a host of things to make a collage. The word collage comes from the French word ‘coller’, which means ‘to glue’ something, usually on strong paper or canvas, using a selection of objects of your choice. Natural items You can use handmade paper, torn into strips and sections of silver birch bark to create a background. Dried flower petals or dried autumn leaves can look stunning. Recycled items It’s a good idea to keep old postcards, wrapping paper, photos from magazines and newspape

How to throw an eco-friendly children’s party

Did you know that you can throw a fun-filled children’s party (complete with balloons, party poppers and goody bags) without harming the environment? That’s right; eco-friendly events are popular these days, so why not give one a go? Here are four tips to help you on your way: Send paperless invites If you are concerned about the world around you, there are many things you can do. From arranging a boiler service, to turning off the lights, you can certainly make a difference – but what about taking things that little bit further? When planning a birthday party, it’s a good idea to create an event on Facebook or to send round a group email. If you are inviting young children, get in contact with the mums of each child and tell them all they need to know. This will stop traditional invites ending up in the bin and will save the postman’s fuel. Use recycled wrapping paper Whether you are wrapping presents, or preparing pass the parcel, always use recycled wrapping

Travelling Options: Getting From A to B

On most trips and holidays, you often take the simplest form of transport. This is usually a flight, connecting you via airports. It’s efficient and serves the purpose well, but it’s not the only option. For the more adventurous, you should consider other options. Whether it’s making the most of public transport or taking your own vehicle to explore the country, there are more options. Not only do these reward you with an entirely different experience, you might also save money too. Personal Transport First of all, let's discuss the merits of using your own transport. The clear advantage is that it gives you much more control. With your own vehicle, you get to go where you want when you want. This is a freedom other transportation seldom affords; even on public transport, you're limited to where the bus or train goes and how frequently each respective service is running. Of course, the next question is deciding on what form of transport to take. The ca