Tag: Christmas

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.

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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.

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

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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?

Another Nativity Post

Last year, I’m afraid little T was that kid (there’s always one, isn’t it?  The one who picked her nose during their Christmas Nativity presentation.  Yep, that was my lovely daughter.

Nativity_littlesteps

This year though, I’m proud to announce that it was someone else’s kid who was caught on camera doing it.  Not mine.  I guess reminding her beforehand did it the trick Please do not pick your nose was repeatedly said to her by yours truly, the night the nativity and again the next morning before she set off to school with her dad.

nativity3_littlesteps

Last year, she was an angel who picked her nose.  This year, she was a lovely shepherd who kept her little fingers wrapped around her crook.  Perhaps, that’s what did it?  Not my constant reminder, but because her hands were holding her crook?

Seriously though, she was a perfect little shepherd (if there’s such a thing).  A mum seated beside me admiringly said that little T sang the songs with gusto and that she knew every single lyrics of the songs.  She definitely made me and my husband proud last Friday.

nativity2_littlesteps

“Listen to the news …”

For every parent, the nativity is a lovely mark to end the year.  It touches our heart to see our children dress up as shepherds, as Mary, Joseph, the three kings, the inn-keeper and all the other characters in a nativity play.  Never mind if it feels the same as in every other year, it still pulls at our heartstrings.

shepherd_littlesteps

And of course, here’s little T with her standard funny face.  With my daughter, there always has to be a funny face.

What was your child’s Nativity play/Christmas play like?

Keeping Christmas Traditions Alive

My husband and I are a couple of sentimental fools. We like routine, though admittedly we also like to break the usual by doing something different every now and then.  But mostly, we love tradition, especially the kind we’ve created as a little family.

In my last post, I wrote about going to a Christmas tree farm where we’ve been going to for the past four years or so.  It might be actually my most favourite Christmas tradition – because for me, there’s something magical about walking through pine trees and picking the perfect tree for us.

And then of course, there’s also watching a Christmas show.  We only started this last year when we went to London to watch The Snow Man.  It was an amazing show and T was enthralled by the whole experience, watching it on stage and seeing the snow man and little boy fly through the air, right in front of her very eyes, was as T would say – awesome!

This year though, we’ve decided to see one nearer to home. We chose to watch little T’s favourite  story, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter, about an hours drive from where we live.  We’re lucky we have close friends who live in the city and it was a great excuse to spend the night and catch up with them.

A Mini- Review

All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed the show.  There were only a few actors who played more than one role and they were just fabulous!  They played each role really well.  I was especially impressed with the actress Katherine Senior who played Mrs. Cratchit/Mrs. Fezziwig/Fanny and Belle, for each role she portrayed, she played it like a star.  And of course, Derek Frood, the actor who played Scrooge was also superb.

While all the actors were good, sadly the set was a bit flat, especially since our good friend B (who has lived in Exeter for a long time and has seen different productions in the Northcott) said that compared to what she’s seen in the past, with lovely and impressive sets, “A Christmas Carol” was just a tad bit disappointing.  She wondered if there was any truth to the rumour that the theatre is having trouble staying afloat.  I really do hope that it’s not the case, since in spite of the setback, the play was really, really jolly good!

closeup_littlesteps

When asked what her favourite part was in the play, T said that she enjoyed the bit where the phantom appeared.  She wasn’t scared at all, even in the scene where Scrooge realises that it’s actually his name written on the grave.

After the show, T had a blast playing in the University grounds.

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Especially when our good friend E, picked her up so she could slide down the bars like Riley in the movie Inside Out.

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Loved walking in the University grounds, since it is located on a hill, overlooking Exeter, it’s a perfect way to see the city lights.  Would love to visit during the day and just walk around the campus and enjoy the school grounds.

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Loved their Christmas decorations dotted all over the place.

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And as you can see on little T’s face, I wasn’t the only one who was loving every single minute of it.

If you live in the area or will be somewhere near Exeter during the holidays, come and watch “A Christmas Carol” over at Northcott Theatre, it will be running till the 29th of December.  Definitely worth a watch!  On the website, you might notice that there is a minimum age of 7, ignore it.  T is 5 and no one in the theatre asked about her age.  To be fair though, we didn’t even know about the age restriction, only noticed it on their website after watching the show when I was checking on what other shows were next on the list. I guess it’s because some children may find some of the scenes scary. Had she not been familiar with the story, I have no doubt she might have been frightened with the phantom and other scenes.

What about you? What is your favourite Christmas story?