Tag: Christmas

#PresentPatrol with ADT and Little T

*A sponsored post in collaboration with ADT

It’s five days before Christmas, can you believe that?  I bet most of you are ready.  Here in our little cottage in the country, we can say that we definitely are!  Our are decors up, Christmas crockery is out, our Christmas tree is up and most importantly presents are wrapped under our lovely Christmas tree.

But what if burglars crept into your home and stole all your Christmas presents?  Sounds like a bad tv movie?  It can happen you know.  Not to worry, lucky for T, ADT sent her a package filled with different kinds of cunning tricks to thwart the evil plans of any would-be-burglar.  It’s called project #PresentPatrol (Up-sound: Mission Impossible soundtrack).  Here’s what they sent:

1. A floor plan to plan the attack. 2. Four sets of “ideas” on how to out-smart those evil present-burglars! 3. A jar of marbles to do the “Mad Marble Medley”. 4. Water Balloon Drench Defence 5. The Ultimate Tickle Bomb 6. Spidey Intruder Sensors

The Master Plan

Step 1:  Use floor plan to plan the course of attack.  Little T drew our Christmas tree on the plan, “That’s where it will all happen, mum”, she said excitedly.

Step 2: Hide the Spidey Intruder sensors or just plain creepy spiders on the presents to scare the burglars away.  Hopefully, they are scared of spiders!  If not, the sensors will alert the police just in time to catch the culprits.

Step 3.  Use water-bombs to drench defence around the Christmas tree.

Step 4:  Use feather bombs or the “Ultimate Tickle Bomb”.  Hopefully it will either tickle them to death or make them sneeze so loud they’ll wake up Doc or little T’s grumpy dad – that’s enough to scare anyone away! 😉

I think we’ve managed to fully protect little T’s presents from those evil burglars!  How dare they even think of stealing little T’s presents.  Thanks to ADT, her presents are safe and ready to be opened on Christmas day.

Do watch our little video below.  T and I had so much fun doing it.

What about you?

If burglars were in the area, what would you do to protect your Christmas presents?  We invite you and your little ones to come up with your own fun and exciting plan to keep your presents safe.   Click  on this > ADT Floor Plan if you want to also use the floor plan.

For Practical Mums: What I Would Give myself for Christmas (A Review)

My husband once told me about how a friend of his gave his wife an iron for a Christmas present.  I asked if it was meant to be like a private joke between the couple, he said no.  I asked if they were still married, by some miracle, yes, they still are together.  I said to the Historian “You wouldn’t ever think of buying me an iron as a present would you?”  “Of course, I wouldn’t!” He answered back – too quickly, I think.

When my husband first told me this story, I felt so bad for the wife.  Imagine, how awful to receive an iron for Christmas!  I know there’s nothing wrong with it and I’m sure the husband wasn’t hinting that he wanted her to iron his shirts more, or was he?  I wouldn’t know.  Anyway, several years down the line, I’m singing a different tune.  There’s nothing wrong with giving a practical present for Christmas.  I certainly prefer them now.

My husband, bless him, is a very generous gift-giver.  He’s given me expensive presents before from jewellery to gadgets, to beautifully illustrated books which he knows I love (to be fair he loves them too).  But I guess when you’ve been married more than a couple of years, while those presents still of course bring a smile to my face, it’s the practical gifts that make me really excited.  Yes, I know that sounds really sad.

Kidding aside, practical presents are all I want for Christmas!  Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d be ecstatic and giddy happy over a Totem 60L waste recycling separation and recycling unit.  Yes, it’s a bin and I’m not kidding when I say I’m so in love with it.

What I love about this recycling bin:

  • I absolutely love that it has separate compartments for for all those annoying house waste a household has like plastic milk containers, empty bottles and cans, cardboard and paper.  With this recycling bin, you can segregate all your waste apart from each other.  Before we had the Totem, we used to put all our recyclable items in a separate bin and it used to overflow … a lot.  It used to drive me mad seeing piled stuff on top of the bin. I don’t have that problem anymore.
  • I also love that it has a removable drawer bucket which you can easily slide and carry when you take the recycling out with you.
  • It has a food waste container you can easily take out with you. Admittedly, Doc does eat most of our left-overs, but we have a compost heap on the bottom of our garden.  We used to put tea-bags, vegetable cuttings, coffee grinds on a tupperware on top of our microwave and that to me was such an eye-sore.  Now our food waste is tucked away, far from eye-sight.
  • I love the design.  I never thought recycling bins could actually look aesthetically good.  I love the sleek design and its fingerprint proof stainless steel counter.  I never though I’d ever call a bin beautiful, but it really is!
  • I also love that it came with additional bin liners and also has a built-in-odour filter and breathable holes.  You won’t have to worry about yucky bin smells when you slide the doors open.

 

What I don’t like about the Totem recycling bin:

  • Some of course may find it too big.  But that’s one of the reasons why I love it.  It’s big enough to hold all our household waste besides customers can always choose a smaller size.  We have the 60L, but you can choose a smaller one if you have a small kitchen and go for the 58L or the 48L.  My husband has this evil plan of moving my beloved bin to the utility room.  He says “It’s either him or me!” 
  • I won’t lie. I did find it pricey.  The 60L costs £199 but then again, if you do have the budget to spend, I would say it’s a small price to pay to be able to segregate your waste properly and most importantly, your kitchen will be clutter free of any waste!

A lot may not agree with me, but I think this is the perfect present for any mum or even dad who likes getting things sorted.  The kind who wants every little thing in their kitchen tucked away properly in their own place.  That’s the way I like it.  This is definitely a #chirstmassolved present for me.

If you’re curious about the Totem 60L – do check out the short video below:

What about you?

Do you like practical presents too?

*We were kindly sent the Totem60 for the purpose of this review.  However, opinions, photos and video were all done by yours truly.

A Special Gift from … Prestige Christmas Hampers

*Sponsored post, Prestige Hampers.

Can you believe it’s only 49 days till Christmas?  Have you started your Christmas shopping yet or at least, started your long list of Christmas presents to give?  Here’s an idea.

I don’t know about you, but my husband and I love Christmas hampers.  We love receiving them and giving them as presents for Christmas, especially for people who love food and drink.   I guess one of the reasons why we love them is the variety of what you’re getting.  It’s like a smorgasbord of all the wonderful treats one usually serves on Christmas day.  Now who wouldn’t want that?  And to top it off, they are packed in one lovely hamper, perfect for those picnics we also love doing, preferably in much warmer days.

Prestige Hampers have a variety of hampers, depending on what items you prefer.  Are you a chocolate lover, prefer cheese, mostly wine, with some lovely cold meat, or whether you have a budget of £20 less or £500 more, there is one hamper for you.

As for us, my husband and I were like a couple of kids on Christmas day, as we opened our special Christmas hamper, taking turns with “oooohing and ahhing” as we looked at our each treat from our Prestige Christmas hamper.

Our Christmas Hamper had the following goodies:

1 bottle of Shiraz, 1 bottle of Chardonnay, 1 delicious fruit cake, a box of Pralines chocolate, shortbread from Walkers, one bar of dark chocolate from Beech’s, Yorkshire Crisps, tea from English Breakfast, one small classic Christmas pudding from Walker, handmade smoked oatcakes from Reid, Red Velvet Crunch bitter Biscuits from Farmhouse biscuits. 1 small jar of Christmas Preserve with mulled wine from Mackays and a small jar of Mackays Christmas marmalade with cranberries, packaged in one lovely hamper.

What we think of Prestige Christmas Hampers:

We genuinely loved it.  As mentioned, my husband and I had fun opening it and discovering the contents of the hamper.  If you’re thinking of a buying a present for someone special in your life who happens to love food like we do. Then look no more, choose a prestige hamper for them.  They’ll love it as much as we loved ours.

If you’re curious about what they really look like and how big the items are, have a little look at the short video below and see for yourselves.

What about you?

Would you like to receive a Christmas hamper from Prestige on Christmas?

*We were sent the Christmas Prestige hamper for the purpose of this review, but all photos and opinions are by yours truly.

A Country Kid’s Post: Searching for that Special Christmas Tree

For the past five years or so, we’ve been going to one particular Christmas tree farm that’s a bit of a drive away from where we live.  When T wasn’t in school yet, it was easy to go to, since we had all the time in the world to drive to it.  But it’s not so easy now that she’s in school, so when close friends of ours (whom we always go with when picking out a tree) suggested that we go to one that’s within easy drive to us, we readily said yes of course, although admittedly a small part of me was a bit saddened that we weren’t going to our usual place.  When you’re pressed for time, you don’t have much choice do you?

Last Thursday, after picking-up T and her friend from school, two families went to a Christmas tree farm in search of that special Christmas tree.

 It was getting dark, so we had very little time to choose.  In the end though, we chose a slimmer and tall tree.  I wanted something more fuller, but we were losing light, so we had to decide fast.

While this Christmas tree farm was conveniently closer to where we lived, it wasn’t as big as the other one and they also didn’t label their trees.  It was easier to find the kind of Christmas tree you wanted in the old one, where they purposely planted the same kind whether you wanted a Blue Spruce, or a Nordman Fir.  They also had information about each tree up in signs.  As the Cornish would say “a proper job!”.

We couldn’t wait of course and started decorating as soon as we got in.

And here it is, standing tall in our conservatory.  I’m not that pleased with the shape of this tree, I think our most perfect shaped Christmas tree was the one we had last year.

It’s definitely Christmas in our house!  Is it in yours?

Christmas Gift Suggestions for your Little Book Worms (ages 6+)

If you’ve been reading our little space for some time now you may have come across most of the titles on this list, all books are from little T’s collection and are her personal favourites.  Some of the books, her Dad or I have read them to T, or do a combined reading, taking turns to read a paragraph.  But a couple of them she reads on her own.  We have a very long bedtime routine you see, it starts off with her Dad reading her a story, then I read to her too.  Then she reads on her own, or if there’s a book from school, she reads that book to me.

Hope you enjoy our list!

1. Goth Girl Books by Chris Riddell

Again, we’ve mentioned Chris Riddel so many times in our little blog, since he is obviously T’s favourite.  Last October, we drove all the way to Bath in a day just to meet the Children’s Laureate at the Bath Literary Festival and have him sign her book.  He was absolutely lovely.  Ever since meeting him, I’m a big fan now too.

If your child is anything like T who let’s just say likes a bit of goth, then they’ll enjoy Goth Girl.  The books are about the adventures of Ada Goth, who is roughly around nine years old and lives with her father, Lord Goth who is known to be “bad and dangerous to gnomes”.  Sadly, he lost his wife when Ada was really young.  The author based Lord Goth on the poet Lord Byron, whose daughter also happened to be called Ada.

As of writing, there are four Goth Girl books written and illustrated by Chris Riddell: Goth Girl and the Ghost of the Mouse, Goth Girl and a Fete Worse than Death, Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright, and Goth Girl and the Pirate Queen.  As you can tell, all books are caricatures of well-loved classics.  Chris also happens to be a political cartoonist of the Observer.

T loves them all.  My husband read all of the Goth Girl books to T.  Many times I would hear both giggling away, at times, I’d hear my husband laugh-out-loud followed by an explanation to his daughter why the belly laugh moment.

2.  Ottoline Books by Chris Riddell

And then there’s Ottoline Brown who lives with Mr. Munroe (her sort-of guardian), a creature (looks a lot like cousin It from the Adams Family) whom her parents found living in a bog in Norway.  Like Goth Girl, the Ottoline Books are about her adventures with Mr. Munroe.  As of writing, there are three Ottoline books:  Ottoline and the Yellow Cat, Ottoline goes to School and Ottoline at Sea.  These books are very much of T’s age range, so yes, she can read this on her own, although my husband enjoyed this too.

3.  Clarice Bean Books by Lauren Child

The well-loved creator-author of the very popular Charlie and Lola series, it won’t come as a surprise to some that Clarice Bean also reads a lot like an older version of Lola.  Like Lola, Clarice is very inquisitive and a very individual kind of little girl.  There are seven books in this series: Clarice Bean, That’s me. My Uncle is a Hunkie, says Clarice Bean. Clarice Bean, Guess Who’s Babysitting, What Planet are you from, Clarice bean? Utterly me, Clarice Bean, Clarice Bean Spells Trouble and Clarice Bean, Don’t Look Now.

4.  Harper Books by Cerrie Brunell

Harper lives in the city of clouds with her Aunt.  She can play lots of instruments like the cello and the harp to name a few.  And her life is as fun and adventurous as Goth Girl and Ottoline.  Thse charming books are penned by Cbeebies host Cerrie Brunell and has written three books in this series:  Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella, Harper, The Circus of Dreams, Harper and the Sea of Secrets

5.  Isadora Moon by Harriet Muncaster

Isadora Moon is little T’s latest find.  The heroine is half-vampire half fairy, for my six-year-old, what’s not to like?  Of all the books, this is probably the one that’s best suited for her age.  When I say that, it means, she can read this on her own without any help from us.  She likes to sit up in bed and read her Isadora Moon books on her own.

There’s an Isadora Moon Goes to Ballet, Isadora Moon Has a Birthday, Isadora Moon Goes to School and Isadora Moon Goes Camping.

These books can be bought in any bookstores whether in the highstreet or online.

Have you seen anything on our list your little one would be interested in?  Or perhaps would make a lovely Christmas present?

Do share.

All About the Cold

I knew when we first moved in our new home that it would be colder than in our old house where it was always snug and cozy.  In the winter, friends who’d visit would always comment on how warm our house was as soon as they entered.  We lived in a terraced house back then, that’s why.  Now we live in a detached house with no neighbours.  In spite the central heating, and two fires in the kitchen and living room, I’m still cold all the bloody time.  To be fair though, both fires aren’t on all the time.  We only put them on when we’re using the rooms.  What’s the point in wasting the fire if there isn’t anyone in?  Sometimes I think we only heat the rooms for our pets.  Thank goodness for wooly socks.  I love them.

In spite the cold, T still complains that she’s feeling warm.  What’s it with these kids?  When it’s cold, they complain about being warm.  I can understand when they’re running around like loonies, of course all that energy burnt will keep them warm, but at night?  Apparently, T isn’t the only one, a few  of my mum friends commented that their little ones are exactly the same.

And speaking of the cold, I’m noticing mold have started to show up in some of our walls and ceilings.  I try to wipe them off as soon as I notice them, but before long, they are there again.  Sigh.

***

I think I’m slowly getting into the Christmas spirit.  We’re going away in the first weekend of December, so my husband said that it would be okay to start decorating this weekend.  Normally, I’d do the dance of joy, but he was surprised when all he got was an “Oh okay”.

I’m hoping to be able to drop by our favourite garden centre after T’s ballet on Saturday.  They have a fabulous Christmas display and items.   I’m sure that will do the trick.

What about you?

Any exciting plans this week?

The Reading Residence

Five Christmas Gift Ideas for the Book Worm

I once did a “Five Valentine’s Gift Suggestions for the Book Worm“, since it’s almost Christmas, and  I’m trying to get myself into a festive mood, I decided to pen another one for the gift-giving season.  Let’s see if this will get me into the Chrissmassy mood.

I’m starting my list with books.  After all, it is a list for the book lovers.  It’s no secret how much I love beautifully made books, especially once with lovely illustrations.  I’m slowly building up my Folio Books Collection, they are all a dream.

 Hansel and Gretel, by the Brothers Grim

If you follow me over at Instagram, you’d probably noticed I posted a photo of this book already.  Sadly, I don’t have it … yet.  It’s a bit pricey at £250 but if you’re a book collector, I think it is so much worth it.  It’s not advisable though to buy it for your child, or maybe for older kids who know how to take care of books.

This beautifully illustrated book has 12 colourful plates reproduced from the copy of the first edition and text is printed on Caxton  wove paper.  I think it’s absolutely beautiful.  When I’m gone, I won’t be able to leave T a lot of money (unless I win the lottery), nor expensive jewellery (a few trinkets perhaps).  Rest assured though that she will have lovely books to hopefully, leave to her children too.

I Am” Sylvia Plath Necklace

While I’m not a big fan of words in a necklace (Is there even a term for that?), I do love this Sylvia Plath one.  For those who love poetry, or if you like Plath like I do, you might want to have this on your list.  It’s a quotation from her first novel “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart.  I am. I am. I am”.  It’s solid brass with 9 ct gold plating and can be extended if you prefer a longer necklace.  This book was like a bible to me when I was a teenager, her words will always be special.

I’ve had this on my list for the longest time and it’s always out of stock, luckily it seems to be on stock at the moment.

sylvia_plath

Alice in Wonderland White Rabbit Lampshade

I love anything book-inspired, though admittedly don’t really have much of it.  Would love to have this White Rabbit lampshade.  For the price of £115, I’m just glad they included the cushion cover!

alice_in_wonderland_lamp

I do have a white wicker chair already.  All I need is that lovely lamp and cushion.

Wool Blanket

And of course, imagine being curled up in that arm-chair with this lovely soft Kilnsey Wool British made blanket wrapped around your legs in a chilly winter evening, kids asleep upstairs, with the Alice in Wonderland lamp on, giving you just the right amount to read your book, at the same time casting a lovely ambience in the room.  Now that’s what I call bliss.

Wool Blanket

Go Away I’m Reading Mug

And lastly, what’s a gift idea list without including a mug, right?  Priced at £8.99 – this lovely bone china mug is perfect for coffee, tea or hot chocolate, curled up in that white arm-chair (pictured above), legs wrapped in that wooly blanket, with your favourite book and the world outside, can disappear even for just a while.  And if anyone disturbs you, just point to your mug.  No need for words.

Remember, some times even book lovers like a variety of presents, not just books, but that won’t apply if you’re buying them Folio books. But then again, that’s just me.

Did you see anything you like from my list?

Are You feeling “Christmassy” yet?

I’m not.

Is “Christmassy” even a word?

Yesterday, as we got into the car to take T to her gymnastics class, Christmas songs filled the air.  I looked at my husband, and he said “Don’t look at me.  Blame her!” pointing at T who was busy mucking about with her friend in the car.”  Apparently, the-not-so-little-one has managed to find the Christmas CD which was part of her Now That’s What I call Disney CD which I thought I had hidden away.

Off we went as the song “Jingle Bells” blasted through the car, with me gritting my teeth, thank goodness, her new gym club isn’t that far from where we live.  I don’t think I’d survive the car ride if it were longer that 20 mins without turning into the Grinch.

I’m not just feeling the Christmas vibe just yet, which is a bit unusual, because I’m someone who loves and embraces everything about Christmas.  My husband recently brought all our decors from the shed because the boxes were being nibbled by mice.  If I were my “normal” self, I’d take this as a signal that it was okay to start decking the house with Christmas garlands with the husband protesting in the background and reminding me that “We agreed the first of December, remember?!”  And of course, I’d completely ignore him.

Nope, not feeling Christmassy yet.  In spite the Christmas adverts being shown on TV.  I finally saw the controversial John Lewis Christmas ad and found it really cute.  It didn’t upset or annoy me at all. But I did understand why some parents might be bothered about it.  If T asked me, I’d say. “The trampoline was from Santa, but he didn’t have time to set-it-up so  he asked the Dad to do it for him.  After all, he still has loads of presents to deliver all over the world right?” And she would believe me.

My mum sent me a photo of her beautiful Christmas tree.  Again, normally I’d feel really envious but I just admired it from afar and didn’t have the urge to go and pester my husband to get one before the agreed dates.

We’ve decided that it’s okay to decorate the house in the first of December.  We also have this Christmas tradition every year, where we go to a Christmas tree farm and choose a special tree.  But this happens usually on the second week of December.

What about you?

When do you start decorating your house and putting up your tree?

The Reading Residence

A Little Bit of Rambling

I think Winter is slowly inching its way in, nudging Autumn on the side.  The air is chiller now and our windows are always framed in frost.  It does paint a pretty picture though, especially when you have a lovely view of the country outside.

frost

And since it’s the first week of November, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about Christmas already.  I must confess, I do love Christmas and everything that goes with it.  At the moment though, I’m thinking, this is happening way too soon as if someone has pressed the fast-forward button.  I need it to slow down just a little bit.  While I love decorating the house up in lovely Christmas lights and all that, I shudder at the thought of the madness that happens up till the 25th of December.

***

I’ve also been busy raking leaves in our garden.  I go out bundled up in my thick coat and wellies, complete with wooly hat, gloves and a scarf.  After raking for some time, I find myself peeling off the layers.  Raking makes good exercise.  I’m glad I talked my husband out of buying good rakes instead of a leaf-vac, so far, the novelty hasn’t worn off yet.

***

In other news, we’ve finally managed to book tickets to see Matilda in London this December.  This was actually included in my summer bucket list but we didn’t get around to going.  I’m glad we’re finally going to see the show since I’ve only heard great reviews about it.  Also, we’ve never used AirBnb before, but decided to give it a try for our night’s stay in the capital.  Hopefully it will be a good experience for us.  Now all we have to do is book Doc into a kennel and we’re all good.

***

I’ve been listening a lot to Rickie Lee Jones again, and I can’t seem to get the song “Autumn Leaves” off my head.  I love, love, love the bass in the this song.  I know, not exactly cheerful is it?  I need one that will make me think of sunshine and warmth.

 What about you?

Are you ready for winter/Christmas?

Christmas Carols at Cotehele

The day before Christmas, we decided to hear some christmas carols at Cothele, a National Trust property near Plymouth.  It was built in Medieval times but the present house is mostly tudor.  We also came to see the famous longest Christmas garland the house is known for and we were not disappointed.

cotehele_littlesteps

cotehele2_littlesteps

garland_littlesteps

And here it is, the longest Christmas garland in England, made of real flowers, lovingly strewn together by National Trust volunteers.   The finished product is beautiful.

garland_2littlesteps

choir_littlesteps

And then it was time to listen to some Christmas carols.

T_cotehele

Then T was eager to go home, I promised her she could open some Christmas presents from her family in the Phil.

openingpresents_littlesteps

Back home, we open our present on Christmas Eve after Noche Buena (Christmas dinner), that’s the reason why I allow her to open some, especially presents from my side of the family.

Happy Christmas to everyone!

And hope that you are all having a lovely time spent with your families.

What about you?

When do you open your Christmas presents?