Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A marriage carved in stone - Happy 59th anniversary Mum and Dad

My dad was the handsome Coldstream Guard who swept my beautiful mum off her feet when they met on a night out in Windsor.  Love blossomed  and 59 years ago on Christmas Eve 1955, they got married.

wedding, fifties

My parents have shared fifty nine years together as man and wife.  As with all marriages, there have been some bad times as well as some devastating experiences to contend with, but any heartache endured has only served to make them stronger as a couple.

Now, in their eighties, my parents are a shining example of the sanctity of marriage.  Their love for each other is just so obvious as they openly show their affection for each other. My dad said he would marry my mum again tomorrow and he genuinely means it.  They are the sweetest, most wonderful people and I am so proud to call them my parents.

The longevity of their marriage is the benchmark towards which I compare my own marriage, and I hope that in the future Ian and I still love each other as much my parents do.  They make me believe that relationships can and do work and that they are worth investing in.  Their example has made me see that love is the most wonderful and selfless gift that we can give to one another.  If everyone was as happy together as my mum and dad are, the world would be a much happier place!

Happy 59th Anniversary to my wonderful parents.  I love you so very much.

59th wedding anniversary

Monday, 22 December 2014

A Festive Gingerbread House for Christmas

Aldi sells enough gingerbread houses to measure the height of 20 London Shards!

Aldi’s bestselling gingerbread house has seen impressive sales since it launched in store for the festive season.  The 14cm tall house comes ready built and comes with a large tube of royal icing and all the sweets and candies needed to transform it into a beautiful, festive centrepiece!

Aldi has sold enough gingerbread houses to measure 6,370 metres, which is the equivalent of 20 London Shard’s – the tallest building in the UK – or  425 double-decker buses, 66 Big Ben’s, 40 Blackpool Tower’s or 1,158 Giraffes!

That is a lot of gingerbread houses!

Aldi, Christmas

We were sent one and were really impressed with it.  Freddy and Ella had some festive fun together decorating it. Having it ready constructed made it such an easy project and the end result was very good.  At just £4.89 it is a great buy, taking all the hard work out of making a gingerbread house for Christmas.

Christmas, Aldi

To celebrate their festive food sales, Aldi erected a giant replica of the Aldi gingerbread house in Manchester’s city centre, standing over 9 ft. tall, 10 ft. wide and 16 ft. deep.  A ‘Mrs Claus’ and jolly team of Aldi elves were on hand to welcome Christmas shoppers with a taster of some seasonal Aldi Christmas treats too – including gingerbread men.

Joint Managing Director for Corporate Buying at Aldi, Tony Baines, said: 

“We hope our giant replica of the gingerbread house kit brought some festive fun in the midst of one of the busiest shopping days in the lead up to Christmas and that our Aldi elves inspired shoppers to discover and enjoy all that Aldi has to offer.”

Manchester, Christmas, Aldi

For more information about Aldi’s Christmas range, please visit

Thursday, 18 December 2014

NibNibs - a delicious nibbly snack from Yorkshire

Made using hand picked ingredients from British suppliers, nibnibs and mini nibnibs are lovingly hand crafted artisan cheese straws and breadsticks from Yorkshire.  With Extra Mature British Cheddar, British butter and wheat flour from the Yorkshire Mills, the ingredients are all natural. 

snacks, mini nibnibs

Nibnibs are perfect for snacking on and make great party nibbles. They are also ideal for popping into a festive hamper for food loving friends.  I was sent some to nibble on and can confirm that they are delicious.  I love the good cheesy flavour, which is cheesier and tastier then any other cheese flavoured snack I've ever had!  The light crunchy texture of the straws is really nice and then the nibnib melts in the mouth.  Nibnibs are so moreish and the children could not get enough of them. The branding is very eye catching and we liked the resealable tubs, although we never tested out how effective they were because we ate the lot in one sitting.  I'd love to see the nibnibs products sold in supermarkets nationwide because I would definitely be buying them.  They really are superior to any other cheesy snack or breadstick we've ever tasted.

nibnibs, snacks, artisan food

NibNibs straws are available in a 175g pack and are currently available in four delicious flavours:

Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper
West Country Cheddar
West Country Cheddar and Cheeky Onion
West Country Cheddar & Spicy Chilli

The new Mininibs are bite size cheese straws available in a resealable 65g tub in these flavours:
Exceptional Cheddar Cheese.
Cheddar & Spicy Chilli
Cheddar & Cheeky Onion Straws

You can find local stockists and discover more about the nibnibs brand at

Freddy's Christmas Wish List

"Christmas is coming, my festive joy gets stronger.
And Freddy's Christmas list gets longer and longer!
So many toys to go on Santa's sleigh,
Ready to deliver and unwrap on Christmas Day!
So what will Santa bring, to fill Fred's heart with joy?
And will he be lucky and get a must have toy?
A Golden Coin Maker to make choccie treats,
Foil wrapped and yummy for us all to eat.
Or maybe he'll get arty with a set of cool Blo-Pens,
Or the VTech KidiPet could become a virtual friend.
LEGO and Marvel are two awesome brands,
Put them together and he's building Spiderman!
A soft toy to hug and something new to snuggle,
To nurture and love, to squeeze and cuddle.
Teksta Kitty walks, meows, plays and purrs,
Just like a real pet (but without any fur!)
What toys will Freddy find this year under the tree?
Only Santa knows! We'll just have to wait and see!"

Debenhams Toys Wish List

This is my entry into the Debenhams Christmas Wishlist competition.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Happy Birthday to my Grandson Ted

It's hard to believe that it was a whole two years ago that I was waiting anxiously for a message from my son Joe, to tell us that his baby son had been born.  When a photograph finally arrived to my mobile I burst into tears of joy, pride and relief, knowing that Joe had become a daddy, and that mother and baby were doing well.  So started a brand new phase of my life, where I became a grandma to baby Ted, welcoming a brand new generation into our family.

Happy birthday to my cheeky, boisterous, sweet and funny little grandson Ted.  We love you xxx

balloons, second birthday, Ted

And just because I love a bit of reflection and nostalgia, here is a photograph of my own little boy Joe on his second birthday in 1990, ready to dive into his Dennis the Menace birthday cake! 

Beano, second birthday, Dennis the menace

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

How to Play Christmas TV Bingo

While you are watching your favourite Christmas television shows and festive films this year, you can have some extra fun by having a go at TalkTalk's Christmas TV Bingo. Whenever you see someone having a smooch under the mistletoe in the soaps or if you spot a giant Christmas tree in your favourite Christmas film, simply mark them off on the Bingo card (you can click on it and print it from below).  When you get a full house treat yourself to a yummy chocolate or a tempting tipple. Why not use this bingo card as inspiration and make cards for all the family so you can all play along against each other, with a prize for the winner! 

I love watching a good Christmas movie.  I love Elf, Love Actually, Arthur Christmas and Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas.  I will definitely be watching for things to tick off my bingo card while I watch this Christmas.

With Freeview, Sky channels, On Demand, Boost packages and Box Office, there are hours and hours of fabulous festive entertainment to enjoy with TalkTalk TV this year.  Find out more at


Monday, 15 December 2014

Daelmans Stroopwafels Coffee Spread Challenge

Daelmans recently sent me a wonderful hamper of their delicious Stroopwafels so I could take part in the coffee spread challenge.  Stroopwafels are caramel waffles filled with buttery syrup enriched with natural Bourbon vanilla.  They are incredible straight from the pack, but they are even better when balanced over a cup of hot coffee.  The steam gently melts the caramel bending the Stroopwafel into what Daelmans call their Stroopsmile.  The warm, luscious biscuit is simply divine.

caramel waffles

Stroopwafels come in packs of eight in a decorative cube box (RRP £1.99 in Tesco and the Co-Op). You can also find them in a lovely metal gift tin, which would make a lovely little Christmas gift or stocking filler (RRP £2.99 available online at Daelmans). You can also get Mini Stroopwafels in a resealable pouch, which are great for snacking.  The kids loved these miniature Stroopwafels, which are bitesize versions of the full size ones (RRP £1.99 from Tesco).

Daelmans, Stroopwafels

Daelmans are a traditional Dutch bakery and the Stroopwafel range has a very continental feel, so I thought that the perfect accompaniment to the biscuits would be a delicious spread of French stick and a selection of continental cheeses including Holland's own Edam and Gouda.  It all felt very European and reminded me of some wonderful family holidays we have enjoyed over the years. Some festive Christmas tree shaped waffles and a bunch of juicy red grapes completed the spread.

Daelmans Stroopwafels

I served the spread with a cup of freshly machine made continental black coffee, to showcase the Stroopwafel at its very best. The glass coffee cups added to the occasion.

I love how the Stroopwafel fits so nicely on the cup and the anticipation as you wait for the Stroopsmile to happen is mouthwatering.

Daelmans, Stroopwafels

Daelmans Stroopwafel

The children really enjoyed warming their Stroopwafels over my coffee!  Thankfully no Mini Stroopwafels ended up in my drink! The delicious gooey caramel centre is just so indulgent.  We are now all huge fans of the Stroopwafel, which promises to be a regular treat in our home.


12 year old Kezia gave her own Stroopsmile after enjoying her continental spread.  It really was the perfect Sunday afternoon late lunch spread.  We loved the continental theme of the spread, which made for a really informal, family friendly and fun meal.

Daelmans, stroopwafels

The Importance of Tyre Safety in Winter

Back in October over 1000 Mumsnetters were surveyed on the subject of tyres and tyre safety for a survey commissioned by Michelin. The findings revealed that in the majority of cases, men take on the responsibility for buying and fitting tyres, but 97% of the mums surveyed agreed that all drivers should take responsibility for their vehicle and its safety. 


Ian is generally the one who takes the main responsibility for our car maintenance and tyre safety in our house, putting us in the 73% of households where the man assumes this role. Even though I let Ian do the 'dirty work', I do take an active role in decision making and take an interest in the car's safety. After all, as the main driver of the daily school run, I am responsible for my children's safety and I want to be sure we are as safe as we can be.
Safety and longevity emerged as the most important criteria to Mumsnetters when choosing tyres, but car handling and fuel saving were important too. Only 19% referred to the importance of tyre labelling, even though tyre labels include important information such as the tyre's rating for wet braking stopping distances. This suggests that we are generally not very familiar with the labeling system even though it could improve our awareness and help us make better informed choices when it comes to buying tyres for our cars.

When it comes to the law, 38% of those surveyed didn’t know the legal tread depth and 67% were unaware of the penalty for having bald tyres. None of us want to fall fowl of the law and the penalty of 3 points and a fine per tyre is easily avoided by making sure our tyres are safe and meet legal requirements.

38% only checked their tyre pressures twice a year or less. I have to admit, we only check the tyre pressure if we think the tyre looks like its going a bit 'puddingy'! 

66% said that they would consider or be prepared to buy winter tyres in the future. Only 7% of Mumsnetters currently own winter tyres, which is above average when compared with the UK as a whole.  We swear by ours, so I was surprised that this figure was so low.

Ian is an absolute advocate of fitting winter tyres to our cars once the weather gets colder.  Winter tyres are not just designed for snow covered roads, they improve the car's performance on wet roads too, making braking distances shorter by 4m at 50mph. My school run is a three mile trek down a very windy, narrow country road.  If it's icy or wet, the journey can become quite treacherous, so anything that can help me to have better grip enabling me to stop safely is a bonus.  The safety of the kids is paramount, and for us, investing in winter tyres is worth every penny.


65% are prepared to pay extra for a quality tyre brand which confirms that the majority of Mumsnetters recognise its worth paying for the improved performance and safety associated with a recognised premium brand. Not all tyres are the same, and it's worth getting the best that you can afford.

When it comes to buying tyres, we use a local, independent tyre retailer, because they are always very helpful, honest and accommodating. I think having a good relationship with a reliable shop gives me the confidence in my ability to take the lead when it comes to dealing with tyre issues.

Here is an infographic of the main findings of this survey:

tyre safety

“Michelin Total Performance brings together an optimum mix of performance areas such as grip, long-life and fuel saving without a trade-off. Michelin tyres are the best match for the daily driving challenges that Mumsnetters face.”


This post is in collaboration with Mumsnet and Michelin to help spread awareness of tyre safety. I have not been compensated to write this post but have been entered into a prize draw. Find out what other Mumsnet Bloggers have to say about tyre safety here.

Christmas Memories of my Nan

During my life, I have enjoyed 45 Christmases (26 of them as a mother to my own children). I have so many fond memories of my own childhood. I remember shouting down to my mum over and over again on Christmas Eve once I'd gone to bed, asking how long until morning.  Finally getting to sleep and waking up to a stocking containing a satsuma and some chocolate, at the end of my bed. Running down the stairs and finding three piles of presents in the living room for my two sisters and I (as the youngest my pile was always the biggest!!)  Opening the pressies in a flurry of excitement while my dad prepared the Brussels Sprout in the kitchen, wearing a wooly hat and drinking rum and coke from a pint glass. I vividly recall watching Top of the Pops and eating Christmas dinner on the big table that took up all of the living room's floor space.  (I also remember the year that I set fire to my Christmas cracker at the dining table when my sisters and I were messing around with a candle - oops!)

We'd sometimes have Christmas tea at my grandparents' house where we'd eat cucumber served in vinegar and sandwiches made with that ham that has orange jelly around it. Nan always put on the same spread with everything arranged in little china bowls on the kitchen table.

Christmas, seventies

My Nan Peck was a pretty incredible lady who loved any excuse for a party. She was always first up on any dance floor, earning her the title of 'disco granny'. Christmas was a very special time for her because she got married to my Grandad on Christmas Day and would tell the story of their wedding day every year, remembering the roses that grew in the churchyard. We'll never know how accurate her memories were, but the story was full of colour, beauty and love, and however many times we heard it, the details did not alter and it always felt like we were hearing it for the first time.


She adored her family and once she became a great grandma to all of her many great grandchildren, she loved to indulge them at Christmastime by buying each and every one of them a bag containing five presents each, which she'd hand out in age order to the kids who waited in line to receive them and to get a big kiss from her.  She'd buy gifts all year round, storing them in a cupboard that we nicknamed Aladdin's Cave. Aladdin's Cave was so full of toys that as the kids got older, some of the gifts would not be age appropriate. My teens recall receiving toys meant for much younger kids but not once did they complain, accepting their presents graciously with a smile.  We all loved her so much!

After my Grandad died, my Nan spent many Christmases with my parents at my childhood home. These times hold some of my favourite childhood memories.

One absolutely wonderful moment that will forever live on in my memory is the year that my Nan played charades with us.  She loved her party games and charades was up there as her favourite because it gave her a moment in the spotlight. On this particular year, Nan had many moments in the spotlight. Fuelled by a couple of sherries, my wonderful Nan took to the floor to act out the names of the TV shows popular at the time. From crawling across the floor with her tongue hanging out and panting as she acted out 'Survival' to gesticulating wildly through the living room window towards the garden to act out 'Crossroads', not one of us had a clue what she was doing!  Unperturbed, she continued with even greater enthusiasm jumping around the room with such purpose and determination to get us to guess the TV shows from her clues.  When we failed to guess her charades, she'd announce that she had therefore won that round before starting straight on to the next one. It was such a funny game when done my Nan's way!!

As a young teenager, I found her antics so endearing and so hilarious. We were all laughing so hard, and sharing this joy together as a family was just perfect. I am so glad that I had been given a new camera for my Christmas present as it allowed me to snap away.  These photographs of my lovely old Nan doing what she did best are absolutely treasured records of some wonderful memories that saw my whole family united in love and laughter.


Of course, being a lady in your 70s and playing hardcore charades solidly for hours is a very tiring business and it wasn't long until Nan retired to her favourite chair to have a well deserved Christmas snooze.  This is another photo that I am so glad to have taken, showing Nan asleep in the armchair with my cat Hairbear asleep at her feet.


We lost my Nan at the ripe old age of 98, six years ago and we miss her so much, especially at Christmastime. But she has taught me to live life to the full and to enjoy everyday.  The memories I have from my childhood, made me determined to give my own children as many joyous family memories of their own and I have spent the last 26 years giving my kids the best Christmases I could manage.  I hope that in the future they will be able to look back on their own childhood Christmases with as much fondness as I look back at my own, and they will treasure the moments that they get to spend with their own grandparents.  


Merry Christmas! This post is my entry into the Tots100/Little Tikes 12 Days of Christmas competition.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

We Met Paddington at the Selfridges Ice Rink

It's that time of year again when Selfridges at the Trafford Centre in Manchester opens the doors of its Ice Rink so Christmas shoppers can enjoy a spot of seasonal ice skating!  We were invited along to give it a try at the weekend.  It is such a Christmassy thing to do and the kids were really excited about getting their skates on and having some fun on the ice.  I made the executive decision not to venture out onto the ice, as I have been poorly for five weeks with a chest infection.  I thought if I started coughing I would definitely end up on my backside, so I watched from the sidelines on a fur covered bench.

The all weather, covered ice rink holds up to 120 skaters and the venue is beautifully bedecked with Christmas trees and golden decorations.  There is a coffee shop so spectators can enjoy a hot drink while they watch the skaters whizz across the ice. Sessions last for 45 minutes.

We paid to hire a seal that Freddy could sit on and get pushed around.  He absolutely loved it and everyone took turns pushing him across the ice.  The girls did end up falling over (thanks to Kizzy pulling her sister down!) but they only suffered from two wet bums and a bruised knee between them, so no major harm done.

Manchester, ice rink

Special guests visit the ice rink on certain weekends and Freddy was really excited to meet Paddington Bear, star of the new Paddington movie!  Freddy always loves meeting characters and posed for some photographs.  

Peppa Pig will be visiting next weekend for some special sessions between 9 - 11 am, where kids get to have a skate, meet Peppa and enjoy a cupcake for the inclusive price of £15.

Paddington, selfridges

You can find out more at about the skating sessions which are available up to January 4th.

Ticket Type                  Price

Peak Adult                     £9.50
Peak Child                     £7.50
Off Peak Adult              £7.50
Off Peak Child              £5.50
Peak Family (x4)          £30.00
Off Peak Family (x4)   £25.00

Peak Times:  Monday - Friday 4pm-10pm, Saturday 11am - 9pm, Sunday 11am-6pm
Off Peak Times:  Monday - Friday 12pm-3pm, Saturday 9am - 10am, Sunday all day

*Peak and Off-peak times are subject to change over the festive period beginning week commencing 22.10.14, Peak and Off-peak tickets are outlined during the booking process

Saturday, 13 December 2014

We're Ready for our #ChristmasClean with Astonish

Throughout Christmas, my grown-up children and their plus ones, my grandson and my parents will all be visiting to enjoy some festive family fun.  Before they arrive, I will do my best to get the house sparkling clean and looking its best.  From scrubbing the sinks to cleaning the floor, I want things to look spotless and inviting for my visitors.

Thankfully, Astonish have sent me a selection of their products to help me get my house as gleaming as the star on top of my Christmas tree! 

cleaners, environmentally friendly cleaning products

I am a big fan of the Great British brand that is Astonish, in particular the Oven and Cookware Cleaner.  Not only does it do a great job on oven doors, shelves and hobs, it is also amazing at getting rid of water marks in the sink, stains from my worktop and felt tip marks from my table. It cleans deeply, lifting away stains gently but efficiently.  It's my must-have cleaning product that I use for all tough jobs in the home.

The Bathroom and the Anti-Bacterial Cleansers are good all round products.  The Bathroom Cleanser removes grease and soap scum and cleans to a shine.  It's great for tiled surfaces, baths and taps. The Anti-Bacterial Cleanser cleans and protects, killing 99.9% of germs.  It helps keeps surfaces clean and safe. The Floor Cleaner is great for tiled floors and we use it on our laminate too.  It has a no rinse formula and a nice, light fragrance.

The Cranberry and Cinnamon Handwash is absolutely wonderful.  It literally smells of Christmas!  It is lovely to have in our downstairs bathroom for all our Christmas visitors to use.  So many people have remarked on how lovely it is already.

Not only are the Astonish products great quality and effective, they are also cruelty free, approved by both the Vegetarian and Vegan Societies.  This means my conscience can be as clean as my house when using them.  I love that the range doesn't rely on harsh chemicals, instead, where possible, using ingredients that are less harmful to ourselves and to the environment.

Another brilliant fact about Astonish is the price...just £1 RRP. That is great value for such good products.

Find out more about Astonish and prepare  for your own Christmas clean:

Friday, 12 December 2014

Top Ten Tips to Help your Child Sleep Better

Good sleep habits can not only take the stress out of bedtime, but can also help to make it a special time for you and your child. With lights out leading to weekly tantrums from one in five (20%) children aged between three and six, most children’s sleep struggles can often be addressed with a simple yet practical solution.

Recent research from Dream Lites, the cuddly bedtime toys, reveals that the average three to six year old child awakes three times in the night, with almost half (46%) of mums regularly awaking to soothe their infant back to sleep.

Dream Lites has teamed up with sleep expert and founder of Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic, Mandy Gurney, to create a simple guide for parents to help their young children to sleep better. If you are unsure why your child has difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, take a look over this handy checklist - implementing small changes could make all the difference for your family come bedtime:

1. Set a regular bedtime and wake up time

Encourage a regular sleep-wake schedule for your child with no more than one hour’s deviation from day to day, including weekends. This will help regulate your child’s internal body clock and ensure they are getting the right amount of sleep. Your child’s wake up time is just as important as their bedtime since our body clocks are reset every day by the time we get up in the morning.

2. Avoid stimulating activities in the hour before bedtime

Have a quiet wind down period about an hour before your child goes to bed. Turn off the TV and any computers; bright lights from screens can interfere with production of the sleep hormone melatonin that is responsible for making us drowsy. Instead use this time for reading, doing puzzles, listening to a story tape and chatting about the day with your child.

3. Stick to a set bedtime routine

It is never too late to establish a bedtime routine. Aim to carry out the same series of steps each night, around 30 minutes before your child goes to bed. This routine may include a short warm bath and a quiet story, before lights out with a purposeful “goodnight”. Make it low-key and relaxing – it is repetitive for you, but it is worth it for the long-term benefits to your child’s sleep pattern.

Try something like the cuddly Dream Lites green dinosaur toy as a part of the bedtime routine.  The cuddly Pillow Pet projects relaxing amber, blue and green stars onto the walls and ceiling of the child's bedroom, while the toy gently glows.  This is comforting and reassuring for the child as they drop off to sleep. A timer switches off it after 20 minutes.

Dream Lites

Dream Lites are available in lots of different cute and cuddly designs costing £19.99. Find out more at:

4. Enforce clear boundaries for bedtime behaviour

This applies to you as well as your child! If you have said you will give your child one cup of milk in bed, do not be talked into fetching a second. Once boundaries start to become stretched, most children will push further. Most requests for a drink or another trip to the toilet are excuses to string out bedtime and should be resisted so that they do not become a habit.

5. A healthy sleep environment

The bedroom should ideally be a comfortable temperature of 18 degrees. Warm temperatures can disturb sleep, and research shows a hot room leads to more wake time and a lighter sleep at night.
Our biological clocks are regulated by light. Make sure your child has time playing outside every day so they are exposed to natural light. Ensure their bedroom is dimly lit; darkness triggers the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. If your child wakes early in the morning consider black out blinds to block out morning light.

6. Teach your child a settling routine that does not rely on props that require your presence    
Children who rely on props at bedtime, such as your presence, are more vulnerable to waking later in the night. As your child comes into light sleep phases, which we all do throughout the night, they are likely to look for you to help them to get back to sleep.

7. Leave your child awake when you say goodnight

This will teach your child to get to sleep by themselves, which is beneficial for both of you.

8. Ensure your child is asleep within 15 to 20 minutes of leaving them

This is the maximum amount of time it should take your child to fall asleep. If a child is awake for long periods at bedtime some can become anxious that they cannot sleep – even as bedtime approaches they start to worry, leading to an anxious and stressful time for everyone. Check that your bedtime routine is quiet, focused and relaxing and that your child is not dozing or napping in the day, if not appropriate for their age.

9. Diet

Avoid allowing your child caffeine four to six hours before bedtime, since tea, coffee and fizzy drinks can profoundly disrupt night-time sleep.

Sugary sweets at bedtime will not only give your child a boost of energy hindering them from falling asleep, but research has also shown them to be a cause of nightmares. Instead, encourage your child to have a bedtime snack of foods that contain the amino acid, tryptophan. These foods are thought to make some people drowsy, and include bananas, warm milk, oat biscuits, wholegrain low-sugar cereals and eggs.

10. Keep bedtime stress-free

Do not use bedtimes to discuss any difficulties or anxieties relating to today or tomorrow. This can unearth difficulties from your child’s day, which may interfere with sleep. Try to get these types of discussions out of the way by teatime.

If, despite your best efforts, your child continues to have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep during the night or has nightmares or night terrors, they may have a genuine sleep problem. Talk to your GP or health visitor about your concerns.

To find out more visit

Disclosure: We were sent a Pillow Pets Dream Lites Dinosaur.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Nice Pecks - Official 2015 Calendar from The Happy Egg Co

The Happy Egg Co sent me a copy of their 2015 Nice Pecks calendar and I just had to share it on my blog!  I love the ethos of the Happy Egg Co. with regards to the wellbeing and welfare of their hens. The free range specialist encourages its hens to roam and forage outdoors.  As well as plenty of green pasture, all happy egg farms are equipped with an assortment of activities to enhance the birds’ natural surroundings – from towers to perch on, sandpits for dust-bathing, and natural play areas with logs, foliage and 20% tree coverage.

The Happy Egg Co's 2015 Nice Pecks calendar features twelve fantastic roosters photographed in their full sporting glory.  We've got David Peck-ham, Bradley Chick-ins, Tim Hen-man and Sir Egg-mund Hillary among the pin-ups included month to month.  There is also a seasonal recipe featured on each two page spread.

hens, chickens, eggs, roosters

You can get your hands on one of these fab calendars or maybe even win an ipad Air 2 by taking part in the Enormous Eggsmas Egg Box competition at  Simply pop your egg in the enormous virtual egg box and fill in your details to be in with a chance of winning.

Splurge or Save on Christmas Decorations

Christmas can be an expensive time, but not everything needs to cost a fortune.  For example, when it comes to Christmas decorations you can choose to splurge on super expensive baubles and trinkets, or you can take the saver's route and spend a lot less cash buying something that looks just as good. After all, Christmas decorations are only going to come out for a few weeks once a year. So I'd personally prefer to spend my money on something that is going to be of greater use.  But that doesn't mean I don't want a well decorated tree and a pretty looking  festive house!

Asda have got a load of really lovely decorations that hold their own against a lot of pricier items. I was sent a couple to take a look at.

Take for example the Asda Nativity Scene. The eight piece set compromises of the three wise men, Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus in a manger, a camel and a sheep.  It has a lovely handmade look about it and makes a great display.  The children love it, as it is quite cartoon like, cute and colourful, and the detail on each of the characters is quite impressive. Similar looking nativity sets can cost up to £60.

Christmas, decorations, nativity


Other comparable items include the Santa Tree Topper from Asda, which is just £3.50.  The felt covered Santa is nicely made and has a friendly appeal that the kids will love.  A similar one from a department store is £12.  It depends on your tastes but if you are looking for a fun, festive theme, the Asda one fits the bill and saves pounds!

Asda, Christmas

I love letting the kids each choose a new decoration every year to add to our mix and match festive theme. When it comes to baubles and tree decorations, Asda has a range from just £1 that are great value and have designs to suit all tastes.  Made from clay, tin, fabric, plastic or glass, each bauble will help you dress your tree in style. Similar ones, from large department stores and garden centres, can cost so much more.  Once hung on the tree, baubles look lovely and no one will be able to tell if they came from Asda or Harrods!

Asda have lots of seasonal Christmas gifts, cards, decorations, crackers and homeware products in store now.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Have a Fragrant Festive Season with Febreze

Christmas is the season where our senses are exposed to so many wonderful sights, sounds, flavours and smells. For me, the scent of Christmas consists of some of the most evocative fragrances, conjuring up thoughts of the most wonderful time of the year! Sweet spices, fresh pine trees, vanilla, tangy citrus, hot chocolate and rich fruits have such lovely aromas that we enjoy at Christmas - but there are also a few bad smells synonymous with the season too. Musty Christmas stockings, burnt dinner, smelly cheeses, the after effects of eating sprouts and stale air have a habit of evading our spaces, creating lingering pongs. This is when Febreze's Christmas scents can help. Nasty smells can be spritzed away using Febreze's fabric refreshers, aerosol sprays, reed diffusers and scented candles. Plug ins and Set & Refresh products gradually release their gentle scents for up to sixty days, adding to the festive ambience. 

festive scents

Febreze's Christmas fragrances include  Apple & Spice, Vanilla Latte and Winter Garden. All lovely scents for Christmas that can make your home smell wonderfully festive and keep those nasty niffs at bay.  I received some to try out and I love the Apple & Spice fragrance

With the RRPs of the products from £2.00 - £6.00 you can fill your house with beautiful Christmas scents without it costing a fortune.  They could also make a lovely addition to a homemade Christmas hamper for a loved one. 

home fragrance

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Win with Sudocrem and TMNT #halfshellheroes this Christmas

Sudocrem have a great Christmas Cracker game that is running during the festive period . In their biggest competition yet they are giving away Amazon Kindles, LeapPads, Go Ape Family Passes, Miffy sets,Sylvanian Families sets, Christmas Jumpers from Morphsuits, Amazon vouchers and over 100 goody bags.

competitions, Sudocrem

You can pull a cracker everyday and get extra chances by inviting friends, following Sudocrem on social media and Tweeting.

Sudocrem's range, including Antiseptic Healing Cream, New Care & Protect and Skin Care Cream, can help protect the whole family's skin, from a baby's nappy rash through to pressure sores in the elderly.

Half Shell Heroes are the latest collection from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aimed at kids aged 2-5 years old. With bright colours, friendly faces and funky designs they are cute and ideal for the younger audience.  Prices start at £7.99 for an action figure twin pack or figure and vehicle pack.

Christmas, advent competition

Every day during December the Half Shell Heroes Advent Calendar is giving away fab prizes. Just visit watch a short video and answer a simple question to enter into that day's prize draw.

Freddy was sent a Christmas card from the Half Shell Heroes and a little Ninja character in a Christmas bauble for the tree. It's nice to see such a popular brand made accessible to younger children with a softer style of characterisation. We'll be entering the advent competition everyday, hoping to add to his collection!

Keep an eye out for Christmas competitions on Facebook, Twitter, on blogs and on Instagram - there are literally hundreds of them out there!  Fingers crossed, we can all have a little luck and maybe win a little extra treat for our family this Christmas.  Good luck xxx

The Little Boy Who Lost His Name

There is something very magical about personalised gifts bearing a child's name.  Children love to see their names in print, and even from a young age, their name is one of the first words they recognise. So imagine their delight in seeing their names in print in their own beautifully written and illustrated storybook. is a company that creates beautiful, bespoke children's books, each one as unique as the child's name.  They tell the story of a little boy or girl who wakes up to discover that they have lost their name.  They bravely go on a quest to discover their name, meeting marvellous, magical characters along the way, who each give the first letter of their own name to help the child recover what they have lost.

The book is beautifully printed on lovely, thick paper and is exquisitely illustrated throughout.  The rhyming text is warm, rich, humorous, fun and very personal as the child sees the letters gather together to spell out their lost name. Both the illustrations and the story itself, create a beautiful, quality storybook that is going to be treasured for years to come, where the child is the amazingly courageous star of the show.

Freddy was sent one and it is beautiful. The story sees the little boy meet a frog, a robot, an eagle, a dragon and a yeti along on his magical journey. I did wonder how they would deal with the second D in Freddy's name without repeating itself, but this was dealt with when the boy found it inside a talking hole!  It is simply lovely and a brilliant concept in children's books.

For a child with an unusual name, these books are really special.  Any name can be used to create a personalised book that is specially printed for the child.  As a mum with children who do not have mainstream names, I think this is a wonderful service, enabling me to get something very precious and personalised for my children.

The project is 100% independent and totally self-published. You can tell that it has been a labour of love by the creators.

You can create a book online and can preview how it will look before ordering. Each personalised book costs £18.99 with free worldwide shipping.  This includes a free personal dedication on the front page.

There is still time to order a book in time for Christmas using the fast track delivery service if you order by December 12th. But this gift is perfect for anytime of the year!


We had Tea with Father Christmas at Wyevale Garden Centre

Every Christmas, we enjoy visiting our local Wyevale garden centre.  We are just a few miles away from Bridgemere, and when we were invited to enjoy Tea with Father Christmas, we were really excited about spending a festive afternoon there.

Garden Centres always go all out at Christmas with their decorations, displays and events.  The entrance to Bridgemere housed an amazing nativity scene complete with lifesize, animatronic animals.  We enjoyed looking at all the lovely displays as we made our way to the restaurant for our 4pm booking to enjoy an afternoon tea and to see Santa.

Wyevale Garden Centres, Christmas

An area of the restaurant was reserved for guests and we were greeted and shown to our table, which was beautifully laid out.  We had already organised our food choices in advance. As vegetarians we opted for the Festive Hummus, Red Pepper and Cucumber sandwiches accompanied by coffee, a delicious scone with jam and clotted cream and a mince pie.  I was very impressed that our vegan daughter was accommodated for, and they supplied her with crisps in place of the cake selection. The children had a choice of a hot meal, which for us veggies was a dish of oven baked macaroni cheese and a bowl of peas or baked beans, or a cold picnic tea consisting of a cheese sandwich, chocolate cornflake cake, a satsuma and crisps.  Squash was available for the kids to drink.

Wyevale Garden Centres, Christmas

There were colouring sheets, crayons and Christmas crackers on the table to keep the little ones entertained. The staff were very attentive, coming over to chat with the kids and making sure everything was participatioionOK with the food.  Once tummies were filled, it was time for Santa. The children were invited to join in with a rendition of Jingle Bells, then they had to shout for Santa. Freddy loves all the audience participation stuff and joined in enthusiastically, shouting at the top of his voice!

The man himself, accompanied by Alice, the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, arrived.  Santa took his seat in his lovely little grotto, surrounded by toys ready to be given to the children.  Children were invited up a table at a time and each enjoyed a friendly chat with Santa.  I was able to take photos of Santa with the children and it was very relaxed.  Freddy and Kizzy then got to choose any gift from the tables of toys.  Both chose a tube of multi-coloured rubber ducks!  Other offerings included dolls, craft sets, toy cars and games.  There was a good selection of nice quality gifts.

To finish the day, children were given a gingerbread tree, a tube of icing and a bowl of toppings (chocolate, raisins and marshmallows) so they could decorate their own biscuit.  These were foil wrapped to be taken home.

Wyevale Garden Centres, Christmas

It was a really lovely event and Freddy was absolutely thrilled by the experience.  The older girls also enjoyed themselves with the good food and the festive spirit that prevailed!

Breakfast and Tea with Father Christmas is available until Christmas Eve at Wyevale Garden Centres (dates and times vary by location.)  The all inclusive price includes a meal, a visit to Santa, a present and a Christmas tree biscuit to decorate for each child.  Adults get to join in the fun with something to eat and a hot drink.

Breakfast with Father Christmas

For children

Pork sausage, hash brown, baked beans and toast soldiers.
Scrambled eggs, hash brown, baked beans and toast soldiers. (v)


For adults

Pork sausage, two rashers of bacon, black pudding, fried egg served on fried bread, hash browns, roasted flat mushroom, grilled tomato and baked beans. Served with a slice of toast and tea or filter coffee.
Fried egg on fried bread, hash browns, roasted flat mushroom, grilled tomato and baked beans. Served with a slice of toast and tea or filter coffee. (v)


Adult mini ticket

A freshly baked breakfast pastry served with tea or filter coffee.


Tea with Father Christmas

For children

A hot meal with chicken goujons/sausages and chips with beans or peas. 
Macaroni cheese and peas. (v)
'My Picnic' meal which includes a delicious sandwich, snack, dessert, fresh fruit and a refreshing drink.


For adults

A festive turkey sandwich, a mince pie and a sweet treat.
A festive cucumber and red pepper hummus sandwich, a mince pie and a sweet treat. (v).
Your choice of tea or filter coffee included.


Adult mini ticket

A slice of delicious cake served with tea or filter coffee.


Gluten free options are available and my vegan daughter was accommodated on request.

To find out more, to check availability at your local garden centre and to book a Breakfast or Tea with Father Christmas, go to

Monday, 8 December 2014

Personalise your presents with

As babies, all of my children preferred the wrapping paper to the gift when it came to Christmas presents.  It seems to be a fact of life that regardless of the amount of thought that goes into choosing the perfect present, the colourful paper surrounding it simply holds more appeal. This Christmas, I think this will hold true for the adults too, but for a completely different reason.  This year it's what's on the outside that counts! is a company that lets you put the perfect finishing touch to presents by providing personalised gift wrap, made using up to 30 images taken from your desktop or social media.  The wrapping paper is then printed with or without borders as a sheet or a roll, ready to make your gifts look amazing.

I was sent a sample made using some of my Christmassy pics I had taken at the Manchester Christmas Markets.  There is something so special about seeing your own children's faces wrapped around a Christmas present.  It really is the ultimate personal touch to a thoughtful gift for a loved one, providing the perfect connection between yourself and who you are giving the gift to and telling a story. Grandparents will go crazy for it!

The potential to design a sheet of wrapping paper using specially taken photographs using props and poses is enormous.  There are endless possibilities and with a little effort you can create some amazing bespoke gift wrap. You could have a LOT of fun with this product.

How to create your personalised wrapping paper:

1. Access the homepage via desktop or mobile site
2. Click on “create your wrapping paper”
3. Choose to upload photos from Facebook, Instagram, Desktop or Camera Roll
4. Make a selection of photos, which will then be duplicated to fill the sheet
5. Take a moment to preview your design
6. Choose whether you’d like to receive your wrapping paper as a roll or a sheet
7. Select an optional black or white border for your images
8. Checkout! You will receive your wrapping paper within three to four days
Prices start at £4.99 incl. VAT & delivery

Dr Oetker Ristorante Pizza and Sides

Dr. Oetker has launched a fantastic, exclusive in-depth guide to help customers match their favourite Ristorante pizzas to different side dishes.

The brand new guide, Pizza and Sides, includes recipes created exclusively for Dr. Oetker which are perfect for family meals, date nights,  festive parties and other special occasions. It’s just the thing for anyone who is looking for something tasty to enjoy with their favourite pizza. The sides are designed to enhance the flavours of the pizza and bring variety to mealtimes.

Dr Oetker Ristorante Pizza and Sides

In addition to this, Dr. Oetker Ristorante has added a new limited edition pizza to its range - Limited Edition Pollo Arrabiata. The thin and crispy base of Ristorante is topped with a combination of mozzarella and Edam cheeses, chicken breast, red pepper, red onion and a fiery yet sweet Roquito® pepper sauce for the ideal balance of spice.  This new variety adds a spicy hit and extends the range of flavours offered by Ristorante.

Dr. Oetker Ristorante has also introduced a classic Margherita pizza to its extensive menu of flavours, offering a high quality version of the original classic pizza.  Perfect for  the whole family, the delightfully thin and crispy base is richly topped with creamy mozzarella, succulent marinated tomatoes, and finished with a basil garnish.

The Dr Oetker Ristorante Margherita is perfectly teamed with a side of deliciously simple, fluffy, herby potato wedges to complement the fresh flavours of the pizza. 

Dr Oetker Ristorante Pizza and Sides

The classic Dr Oetker Ristorante Mozarella tastes wonderful teamed with a Sweet Potato, Spring Onion and Feta Salad.  This recipe is absolutely lovely with the contrast of roasted sweet potatoes, salty Feta and the tangy dressing.  The slight crunch of toasted pine nuts and spring onion adds an interesting texture and bite. Delicious.

Dr Oetker Ristorante Pizza and Sides

Other sides include tasty flat breads, citrus salads, warm salads and bruschetta.  My favourite recipe is for a Herby Chickpea Salad combining bulgar wheat, chickpeas, red onion and fresh herbs.  It is the perfect pairing to Dr Oetker Ristorante Speciale.

You can make a wonderful Italian themed feasts using a selection of Dr Oetker Ristorante pizzas and some of the amazing side dishes.  Perfect for  festive celebration with the family.  We thoroughly enjoyed our vegetarian feast of Pizza and Sides while watching a Christmas movie.  It makes a great family night in, and is much cheaper than a takeaway.

Dr Oetker Ristorante Pizza and Sides

Dr. Oetker Ristorante pizzas are made using only the highest quality ingredients on a luxurious thin and crispy base, allowing pizza lovers to sit back and relax as the pizza cooks to perfection  in the oven.

Dr Oetker Ristorante pizzas, including the two new flavours, can be found in the freezer aisles of stores nationwide, with a MMRP of £2.99.

For more information check out the Dr Oetker Facebook page or visit the website

Posted in collaboration with Dr Oetker.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...