Thursday, 31 December 2015

No new year, new me. I am still the person I will always be. 2016, a year of changes but no new me!

Every year people have New Years resolutions and the 'new year, new me' quote gets thrown about all over the place. 

The thing is, there will never be a new me. I can't replace myself because I don't think I'm good enough, thin enough, happy enough, wealthy enough. I can certainly improve my existing life and work on all of those things if I want to but it won't change the person that I am.

I am still Mum of Five whether I am pre Slimming World or post Slimming World! Whether I am happy, sad, rich, poor, fat, thin, tall, short (you know that new years resolution where you say you will be taller for 2016!!!). 





I am still the mum on the school run who looks like she has been dragged through a hedge backwards, the one with a gaggle of children following behind her whilst she looks like a pack horse carrying the school bags. I am still a wife, mum, daughter and friend and do my best in all of those things. Sorry to everyone but there will be no 'new me'! I can't go into a store and buy a new me, I'm not Harrods stock material! 

Here's the thing, as the clock strikes midnight nothing changes. You may be more drunk than you were 5 minutes ago in 2015 but those 'new year, new me' statements don't mean you suddenly change, like Cinderella's coach turning back into a pumpkin but a change for the better like when the Fairy Godmother waved her magic wand and made it into a beautiful coach in the first place. Life isn't a Disney film, unfortunately. 

However, we can certainly reflect on the year that has gone by. A lot of friends have commented saying 2015 has been a corker and they hope 2016 will continue to be just as awesome and we all hope that is the case. Others have said that they enjoyed 2015 but can see improvements on the horizon for 2016, change is good no matter how big or small. 

Improvements in your life is something only you can do, whether it takes just a few weeks of 2016 to change certain aspects of your life or the whole year to make it happen, life isn't a race. Don't feel like you've failed if you reach the end of 2016 and you haven't completed your goals or improved your life or aspects of it as much as you wanted to. Any small changes, new adventures, unexpected events and longer life journeys are all part of what life throws at us but don't wish for a 'new year, new me', be who you always are. 

I can improve my life, I can lose weight if I want to. I can change things if I think they will make me more happy and less stressed. I can do home improvements and change our home for the better but none of that will mean there is a new me. I'm still the same person inside and always will be. The same person who makes people happy and annoys the hell out of others! 



The sky is the limit on what you can achieve this year


Be who you always are complete with a side salad of awesomeness and a dessert sprinkled with happiness.



A dessert sprinkled with happiness!


So farewell 2015, whether you were good, bad, awesome, fun, sad or all of those combined. 2016 may not be bigger and better but it can be what you make of it. 




Wednesday, 9 December 2015

X Factor finalists hit the road and we see 2 out of the 3 finalists. Reggie 'n' Bollie hit Reggie's hometown & Che Chesterman sings at Christmas with the Stars at the Royal Albert Hall.

As the X Factor finalists hit the road to tour the country in anticipation of this weekends grand final, friends and family were lucky enough to see Reggie 'n' Bollie as the place where we live is Reggie's hometown. Then that evening I attended Christmas with the Stars at the Royal Albert Hall and Che Chesterman and Nick Grimshaw hit the stage with Che belting out a fab rendition of Feeling Good.



Reggie 'n' Bollie with their mentor Cheryl Fernandez-Versini



 X Factor fever hit our home town as Reggie and Bollie (and Cheryl) were due to arrive yesterday between 10-2. Lots of people turned out to see the guys and their mentor as they visited and their family did a meet and greet. Everyone who attended loved getting a glimpse of the X Factor finalists as they headed home to thank their fans and their continued support and votes during the competition.


Reggie 'n' Bollie's tour bus


Yesterday evening I had tickets to attend Christmas with the Stars. My parents attend every year and this year they very kindly paid for me to attend too. It was a lovely evening, definitely put me in the festive spirit and it was great to bump into the likes of Dr Dawn Harper and Tom Lister as well as other celebs. The singers and the choir were fantastic as were the orchestra, the Royal Albert Hall is amazing and I loved joining in with the carols.



The amazing Royal Albert Hall


Just after the interval we had a 'surprise' visitor, although not much of a surprise when his huge tour bus was parked outside! Che Chesterman and his mentor Nick Grimshaw hit the stage and he sang amazingly. Again, it was one of his many stops as he too tours the country as part of his tour on his X Factor battle bus.


Che Chesterman performs at Christmas with the Stars



Che Chesterman's tour bus


I wish them both well in the final on Saturday evening as well as Louisa, unfortunately we couldn't make it 3 out of 3 and bump into her too! It looks set to be a great final and whatever happens they have all done so well to get as far as they have in the competition. It was great to see both acts on their tour of the country and to see the support they both have.

Catch the X Factor final on ITV, Saturday 12th December and Sunday 13th December at 8pm.

Review of Tea with Santa at our local Wyevale garden centre, a highly recommended festive experience

A few days ago we took Thing 4 and Thing 5 to visit Santa at our local Wyevale Garden Centre Weybridge. We had never visited this garden centre before but it was very easy to find and the boys were very excited to be having tea with Santa.

We arrived 15 minutes before our booking time and were shown straight to our table by a lovely friendly elf. Each table number was allocated to a family and there was just the right number of people there without it being too busy or overcrowded.






 Our food order had been taken during the booking process so they had a note of everyone's requirements before our arrival. The table was well decorated and the children had a festive colouring sheet and crayons to keep them busy and we all had a cracker to pull too. For the children we had ordered chicken goujons, chips and peas. The chicken was lovely big chunks of chicken breast and there was plenty on each plate. They were served with a bowl of peas and a bowl of beans per table too which was great. All of the children on each table were served first and then that adults got their food. The food came out in good time but we were never rushed over our meals at all and were able to take our time with everything.

We had the festive mini afternoon tea and it was lovely. The turkey, stuffing and cranberry sandwiches were delicious, and we also had a scone with jam and clotted cream and a mince pie. All came out on a three tier cake afternoon tea stand. Everyone was also kept well topped up with squash for the children and hot drinks for the grown ups. The elf was very attentive to everything we needed as well as conversing with all of the children at each table whilst we all had our meals.

After we had finished eating it was time for Santa's arrival. Again, the Elf really got the children involved with making sure Santa arrived. He asked them all if they knew any Christmas songs, what they wanted for Christmas and if they knew the names of Santa's reindeers. All of the children were enjoying themselves and he kept them well engaged whilst Santa made his arrival. There is nothing worse than the children getting restless whilst waiting for Santa, they are all so excited yet the elf made sure he kept them all engaged and happy.








Santa arrived and the children went back to their tables and were called up with their family. Our children were last but they didn't mind as they attentively watched the other children go up and see Santa and tell him what they would like for Christmas. Once it was their turn both Thing 4 and Thing 5 made sure Santa knew what they wanted in time for the big day. A computer game for Thing 4 and some pickled onions for Thing 5, honestly he asked for pickled onions, which caught Santa by surprise for sure! Santa made sure that there would be some elf made pickled onions ready for Christmas!!

Whilst the children were waiting to see Santa they were also given a Christmas tree shaped gingerbread biscuit to decorate which they really enjoyed doing. With chocolate buttons and beans to add on to the tree using buttercream provided they had a great time decorating them and Mummy enjoyed helping too! They had made a mini piping bag with the buttercream on and each child had their own individual plate with everything they needed.





Overall this was a really lovely festive experience. The food was delicious and it was nice to sit with other families and enjoy some festive food before Santa arrived. The Elf (and other staff) were all very attentive and helpful and kept us well stocked with drinks and made sure everything was ok for us. The Santa visit wasn't rushed and they had a lovely chat with the main man. The gifts they received were fab. Thing 4 chose a lovely hidden gems mining kit which he got stuck into as soon as he got home. Thing 5 chose a tub of dinosaurs with a play mat which was a great gift and will be played with for a long time to come.

If you are looking to visit Santa I would highly recommend tea with Santa at Wyevale garden Centres, just go to their website and look up your nearest one and bookings can be made online. At £9.99 for the children and £7.99 for the adults it is definitely well worth the money and was a lovely relaxing evening, the whole experience lasting around 1.5-2 hours in total. 

Disclaimer; We were gifted tickets to see Santa for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are our own. 




Monday, 7 December 2015

Our Nordmann Fir real Christmas tree from Pines and Needles. Why not visit one of their many locations across the London area or buy online for delivery to your door.

Last week our Christmas tree was delivered from Pines and Needles. A completely different Christmas tree experience compared to years gone by.

Pines and Needles have really opened our eyes to the ease of buying a tree and the quality that can be provided even though we didn't choose the tree ourselves. They have many sites across London where you can go and choose your own tree, something we always have done in previous years. We would spend ages at our local garden centre picking up hundreds of trees to inspect the height, how tall and bushy it was. Was it even on all sides with a good balance of branches all the way up the tree. It would take ages and although it was always a fun family tradition there were times when it all got too much and you thought you would never find the perfect tree.




Our Pines and Needles tree as it arrived and after decoration. 




Along came Pines and Needles. Last week the most perfectly proportioned six foot Nordmann Fir arrived on our doorstep. It was delivered at midday day on the specified date netted and wrapped for transportation. I unwrapped it and got it in the stand straight away and it looked great as soon as it was out of the packaging.

We can't fault the tree that has been delivered. I let it stand until the evening to allow it to fall into place nicely. We found the best spot in the living room for it and I decorated it myself. I've not overdone it with the decorations this year. I've kept it simple yet (hopefully) elegant with keeping to just silver decorations.

The process was so easy, either visiting one of their London locations to choose your own or ordering online if you can't visit. They have a choice of Nordmann Fir or the more traditional Norway Spruce and also lots of heights to choose from too, Having the tree delivered was rally great and although the OH was a bit worried that his tree choosing had been taken out of his hands he was really, really impressed with the tree that arrived from Pines and Needles.


A close up of the branches and our decorations. 

They even offer a whole decorated tree package where you can choose the tree, then the stand, the lights, a decoration pack catered to the size of tree and then it all delivered straight to your door. Also, if you are in the London area you can also have their personal decorators to come to your home or office and do all of the tree decorating for you. The choices from Pines and Needles are fab.

So as the festive season gets well under way and everyone gets their Christmas trees in place and decorated we would definitely very highly recommend Pines and Needles for your real Christmas tree this year.

Prices start from £31.95 for a Norway Spruce and £35.95 for a Nordmann Fir. Trees come in 3 foot to 9 foot then 10-12 foot options with large trees (12 foot and above) available upon request.

Delivery is available on trees up to 9 feet for Nationwide delivery with various different delivery options available and starting at £14.95. 10-12 foot trees are only available for delivery within their London catchment area.

Disclaimer; Our tree was gifted to us by Pines and Needles for the purposes of review, all thoughts and views are our own. 





Friday, 27 November 2015

Nobody loves me everybody hates me, I think I'll go and eat worms. Too much hate and not enough love, why things need to change. Being told everyone HATES you!

Yesterday during a 'discussion' with someone over the way we talk to each other I was told in no uncertain terms that EVERYONE hates me. Quite a harsh statement to make coming from someone who supposedly loves you. So this got me thinking about things as hate is a very strong word. 

Hate in the dictionary is defined as;
    1. loathe, execrate; despise. Hate, abhor, detest, abominate imply feeling intense dislike or aversion toward something. Hate, the simple and general word, suggests passionate dislike and a feeling of enmity: to hate autocracy.
    Hate is something that I see all over the news at the moment, or try not to see. The people behind the headlines must be full of hate, amongst other things. Hate takes many shapes and forms yet is such a strong, harsh word I can't fathom how it can be used in such a flippant way as well. 
    So when that word is aimed at you and you are told that everyone hates you, you wonder what you have done that was so bad. I have lots of family and friends and what I thought was a strong bond and relationship amongst us all in varying ways, or are they just pretending. I don't need that in my life so I'm quite happy for them to walk away if need be. 
    If they really hate me as much as I've been told why do they still talk to me? Invite me out? Accept invitations to things I have organised? Ask me to help out when they need something doing that they can't do? Ask my opinion when they need help and support? People who hate me wouldn't do all of that? It seems a huge waste of effort on their part to pretend when in all honesty they have plenty of other family and friends to do all of that for them without needing me as a 'plus one on their friends list just to keep the numbers up'. 
    So here I am telling it to all the 'haters' who hate me so much (friends and family included) You know where the unlike button is on Facebook, you know how to delete a number from your phone, and you can quite happily forgot where I live and never visit again, I don't need an invite to a party or a night out and then I waste an invite on you when it could go to someone more worthwhile of my time (although I do like to think I have time for everyone). Our paths never need cross, if you hate me that much. 
    There are things in life others have done that I disliked but I got over it, there isn't time in our lives to live in the past and live on a small hang up that we had in previous years. I've got over it and would never say I hated anyone, if I did really, really dislike someone that much I would do something about it to change it.

    So here's the deal here. I have a lot of love for everyone, there is nobody I hate, it's too strong a word to throw around. If there are friends and family who really do hate me then I feel they have their own issues to deal with too and I really don't take offence to the hate they have, I would not want to be one of their worst enemies if they can hate someone like me as much they do. 


    Thing 5 perfectly summed up my feelings when he got his hands on a packet of cakes earlier today (yes life can be summed up by cake!). 





    Thing 5 LOVES these cakes however today he felt the need to crush one into the carpet. On the top left you have a happy cake, on the top right he's not perfect but still just as loved as the first. In the third picture, just because he crushed that cake into the carpet doesn't mean he hated that cake, you can never hate something that bad. He just wasn't feeling as in love with it today to want to eat it, tomorrow he will love the cake just as much as he did in days gone by (and may also save my carpet!)


    So please people, before you take out you anger and 'hate' out on someone you claim to love think about the consequences for them as well as yourselves. If you feel the need to really string someone along even though you hate them, spare them the angst and do something about. 


    Find some love because life is too short for hate and don't leave them feeling as crushed as the poor cake, who is still always loved even though a little crushed.








Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Stash shots of christmas presents asking 'Have I bought enough'? It's not a competition, the children really will forget most of what they got for Christmas by New Year. If you really don't think you've bought enough why not buy for someone less fortunate than yourselves like Wave 105 radio's Mission Christmas appeal.

I'm by no means being a Bah Humbug here. I am very much in the Christmas spirit. I put the decorations up over the weekend and we are awaiting the arrival of our Christmas tree. However, increasingly over the past few weeks I have seen lots of 'stash shot' pictures on social media asking the question 'Have I bought enough'?

Last time I checked it wasn't up to my friends/family or social media to determine whether I had bought enough for my children. Whatever they open on Christmas Day whether it be 1 or 100 presents will be up to me, and my budget, to decide. 

Budget plays a huge role in present buying. If you were to put a 'stash shot' up and ask if you had bought enough and the replies were No would you then go and spend your last pennies making sure they had enough just because others told you to. Putting yourself maybe into financial hardship going into the New Year just to keep up with others. Surely your children will appreciate the gifts that you have bought them regardless of size or amount?

Every persons budget is different. Mrs A might have bought her child a battery operated car for Christmas plus hundreds of other toys, if her budget works and that's what she wants to do then fine. Mrs B may have bought just a few small gifts for her child, which mean as much to her child as the hundreds of toys do to Mrs A's child, and Mrs A's child actually preferred playing for hours with the huge cardboard box that the car arrived in! 

Christmas isn't all about the presents. It's not about keeping up with each other on how many presents, or how much we have spent on each child. Every household is different, even every child is different. We can't spend the same on Thing 5 as we do on the older ones, things get more expensive as they get older and if we tried spending the same Thing 5 would be opening presents for days and he really wouldn't need that amount of money spent and presents bought anyway.

If you do still have a few spare pennies and want to buy more presents why not consider giving a gift to those less fortunate? I recently saw a gift tree in a local shopping centre where you take a tag off of the tree which has a gift written on it that a child has chosen. You go and buy the gift and take it back to the Customer Service desk where they will make sure it gets to that child. I have always thought this a lovely idea ever since I watched the festive film Paper Angels. If they aren't doing this in your local shopping centre enquire at your local church or food bank if they know of any similar schemes that are taking place. 


           

Paper Angels movie


In the South, Wave 105 radio have their Mission Christmas appeal running. They are asking you to buy an extra present this year that they will give to a disadvantaged local child to make their Christmas morning special. They are looking for new and unwrapped gifts suitable for children and young people aged 0-18 years, and you can donate at any of their drop off points across the region. If you want to you can also donate money instead, that would really help them too. You can donate online or over the phone. See the Wave 105 website for details or find a similar appeal running in your area if you can. 





How about a food hamper for a neighbour or relative that you know is on their own this Christmas? When I was at school we did this around Harvest Festival time and we had a list of elderly people to deliver to, they were always extremely grateful of the food parcels and I loved cheering them up and seeing their faces when they received them. 

If you know that what you have bought for your child, in your eyes, is enough there is no need to ask others for approval. Don't break the bank trying to keep up if the gifts you have bought are sufficient and if you can spare a little more for others please do so this Christmas. A Random Act of Kindness goes a long way, especially at this time of year. 



Super Busy Mum

Book review and competition; Michael Murpurgo's An Eagle in the Snow children's book and one copy to give away.

AN EAGLE IN THE SNOW BY MICHAEL MURPURGO



The powerful new novel from the master storyteller, Michael Murpurgo. Inspired by the true story of one man who might have stopped World War II.
1940. The train is under attacks from German fighters. In the darkness, sheltering in a railway tunnel, the stranger in the carriage with Barney and his mother tells them a story to pass the time.
And what a story. The story of a young man, a young soldier in the trenches of World War I who, on the spur of the moment, had done what he thought was the right thing.
It turned out to have been the worst mistake he ever could have made – a mistake he must put right before it is too late…

         

Book trailer on Youtube




Published in October 2015 and ideal for ages 9+ the book comes in hardback and has 272 pages. 

My daughter, aged 12 years, absolutely loves Michael Murpurgo books and has built up quite a collection so as soon as our copy arrived she jumped straight in and hasn't put it down since. 

Thing 2, aged 12, says; I was keen to get straight into the story as I know what a great writer Michael Murpurgo is. The historical storyline was captivating and emotional and gripping enough to keep readers enthralled in the book and not want to put it down. The storyline was realistic and had great detail and you could really connect with each character. As student librarian at my school I will definitely be recommending this as a book for other students to read'. 


Michael Morpurgo’s website can be found here at http://www.michaelmorpurgo.com/where you can find lots of information on this book and all of the others that he has written too as well as lots of information on news, event, shows etc..... 
Here is a link to Amazon where you can purchase the book; http://www.amazon.co.uk/An-Eagle-Snow-Michael-Morpurgo/dp/0008134154

I have one copy to give away to one lucky reader, all you have to do is enter via the rafflecopter below.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 23 November 2015

What Christmas chocolate delights are on offer from Lindt this festive season for all friends and family whether as gifts or for a special treat at Christmas. Chocolate Santa, reindeer, gold bears, gift sets, advent calendars and so much more.


It's that time of year where we like to make sure we have enough festive chocolates in the house to keep us going until at least next Easter and beyond! Giving chocolates is also always lovely and I am always on the look out for something different to give as gifts. 

The lovely people at Lindt sent us a lovely box of goodies to review and here is our round up off what we were sent and what other lovely things Lindt have to offer this Christmas.



First up is the Lindt teddy bear advent calendar which also featured in our Advent Calendar buying guide, 24 Lindt chocolates behind each door with the last door being the gold wrapped larger bear chocolate that you can see peeping out from behind the door.  £9.99


These cute Santa's little helpers and snowman sets make fun little stocking fillers or treats for the children. Hollow chocolate shapes and 5 in each pack. £2.79 each or 2 for £4.00


This is such a sweet little gift set. The big hollow Santa stood in his sleigh with the Lindt gold reindeer with his bell around his neck and 2 small gold bears in the back of the sleigh.  £8.99


This was my husbands favourite box of chocolates. The Lindt teddy and friends box. Featuring the small gold bear, as well as Lindor bells, small Santas and gold reindeer. All hollow chocolate shapes apart from the bells which were truffle filled and oh so delicious.  £4.99


Another cute little gift set featuring the iconic gold reindeer with red ribbon and bell around his neck. complete with 2 solid chocolate carrots. £5

As well as all of these treats there are so much more on the Lindt website to buy including Santa's Grotto chocolate gift bag £3.99, large hollow Santa, reindeer and gold bear all at £3.99, mini chocolate Santa's in a perforated pack £2.79, reindeer band gift set £3.99 or 2 for £7, Christmas tree decorations and so much more. Head over to their website and UK shop here at www.lindt.co.uk

Last but not least this super cute gold reindeers and fluffy antlers set caught my eye! £5.99





Super Busy Mum

Our Christmas Gift guide for the toddlers. What Thing 5, aged 3, would like for Christmas including Leapfrog, VTech, Swimfin, Orchard Toys, Paw Patrol and more.

I've always found the younger children very easy to buy for at Christmas. Whether it's lots of smaller presents or one big present with a few smaller gifts there is so much choice for the toddlers.

Thing 5 has got lots of smaller presents this year. Here are just a few ideas of what to buy for the toddlers this Christmas.


 Leapfrog Number Loving Oven. Move the number slider to explore numbers, time and temperature, count along with the blinking light and more. Over 30 phrases and songs warm up counting, sharing and fraction skills. Teaches Counting, Parts of a Whole, and Sharing.





Leapfrog mobile medical kit, various online prices at the moment carrying from £12-£20, large bear from Masha and the Bear £20 and VTech toot toot drivers racing ramp way approx. £15.



 Leapfrog mobile medical kit. Roll the ambulance or press siren to learn about health & hygiene. Learn about body parts through sing-along songs. Teaches pretend play, health, hygiene & the human body

Being a fan of Paw Patrol I bought him the large Marshall on a Roll vehicle and pup set. This pup and vehicle combination is loaded with transforming action. With his extending fire ladder and real working wheels, Marshall can race to the rescue. Get fired up with Marshall as you listen to real sound effects and phrases. Learn all about adventure, bravery and teamwork as you rush to the ruff-ruff rescue.



Next up is the Masha and the Bear cuddly bear, playhouse set and Masha doll. The younger ones love to watch Masha  and the bit on TV. Masha is a mischievous little girl and is friends with bear. They get up to all sorts of mischief and the children love it. The playset is of inside bears house and comes with a small Masha and bear figures. 




Masha and the Bear playset and doll both £15 each, large Paw Patrol vehicle £20

I decided to buy him a set of Orchard Toys games. These games are always fab and there is such a choice of different games to choose from. I got a set of four in a pack and then I also bought the shopping list game and then the Christmas Surprises game. These will be great as all of the other children will love to play them with him too so it will get them all together playing and learning.



Hot Wheels race track approx. £15, Leapfrog Number loving Oven approx. £20, Orchard Toys games compendium approx. £25 and the Orchard Toys Christmas List game was £7.99, ideal for a Christmas Eve game before bed. 

Hot Wheels is a big favourite in our house, we currently have a huge box full of the cars which are regularly tipped out and played with on the big road mat we have but I thought a small racing playset might be good to add a bit of fun into play. You can race 2 cars on the Hot Wheels track and I think Thing 5 will love this and will be able to use all of his different cars on the track too.

Swimfin is a great Christmas present which is also very practical too. My children absolutely love their Swimfin, whether in the water or on land! A bouyancy aid for swimming that looks like a shark fin. These are fab, my younger two can't swim at the moment and aren't very confident in the water but Swimfin has really boosted their confidence. It has also enabled them to submerge themselves more in the water and be less clingy to us parents making them more confident in the water whilst still having us nearby. SwimFin comes in one size only.

SwimFin has been tried and tested and is proven to work for all ages, sizes and abilities. However, on the packaging there is a chart saying SwimFin is suitable for children 15-30 kgs and gives an approximate age range of 3 – 6 years. This is a legal requirement for all buoyancy aids that have undergone safety testing and is for guidance only. So, what happens if you have a child who is 5 years old but weighs 33kg? Is SwimFin suitable or isn’t it? All we can say is that we have testimonials from people around the world telling us that it works for children of all ages. This should give any parent or teacher peace of mind. However, as stated on the underside of each SwimFin, it must be used under constant, capable supervision.

My 2 land sharks trying out their Swinfins before heading out into the water! 

Swimfin is £21.99 and comes in 8 different colours. 


VTech toot toot drivers racing ramp way is fab as Thing 5 also has a VTech toot toot advent calendar so he will be able to combine all of the pieces into one playset. He is very much into his cars so I thought this was a good little starter set and a racing set which will be fun and he will be able to play with his siblings too. The cars have lights/sounds too. 

What has your toddler got on their Christmas list? Is your shopping well under way or do you still have lots more to do? I hope there are some suggestions here that can help if you are struggling to find the right gift. 



Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Choosing your real Christmas tree and how to decorate it. What type of tree? What colour scheme? It's time to decide before our delivery from Pines and Needles arrives on December 1st! Either visit one of their many locations or have your Christmas tree delivered to your door.

The festive season is creeping up far too fast and our impending Christmas tree arrival from Pines and Needles is just 12 sleeps away. The children are counting down the days until we can put the tree up and decorate.



In years gone by we have visited a local garden centre and picked our tree. Endless hours stood outside whilst my husband holds up tree after tree to see if it's the right height or shape. Do we go Nordmann Fir or Norway Spruce?. When you are stood in a big open space the tree never looks as big as it does when you get it home and place it in its chosen spot but the bigger the tree the better is what we always say! Even if it means having to rearrange the furniture!

So whilst we await the arrival of our tree from Pines and Needles I wanted to tell you about the fantastic choices you have from them. You can either visit one of the many sites they have across the London area and choose the perfect tree or you can have a tree (up to 9ft) delivered to your home by easily ordering online. As well as real trees you can also order garlands, wreaths, stands, lights and decorations from them too. They offer Nordmann Fir or Norway Spruce trees in up to 9ft, up to 12ft or even bigger over 12ft trees for indoor and outdoor use. So they have plenty to choose from in both types and size too. 

Prices start from £31.95 for a 3ft Norway Spruce up to £132.95 for a 12ft and £35.95 for a 3ft Nordmann Fir up to £178.95 for a 12ft. 

The Norway Spruce is the more traditional Victorian Christmas tree which has a lovely fresh scent and elegant fine foliage although it does drop its needles more than a Nordmann Fir so it is recommended not to buy for indoor use until nearer Christmas. The Nordmann Fir benefits from being able to retain its needles in an indoor environment for longer and usually lasts around 4 weeks in good condition.


Every year, the Specialist Team at Pines and Needles supply and install hundreds of display trees for Councils, special events, shopping centres, football clubs, churches, hospitals, hotels, embassies and other prominent locations.

Previous clients include:

  • Earl's Court Exhibition
  • Cutty Sark
  • Ideal Home Show, London
  • Ideal home Show, Manchester
  • Hampton Court
  • Hyde Park
  • Kew Gardens
  • London Zoo
  • Natural History Museum
  • New Scotland Yard
  • O2 Arena
  • Westminster Abbey
You can order everything from one place with Pines and Needles and have it delivered direct to your door for the perfect Christmas tree shopping experience. I know some will prefer to visit one of their sites and choose their own tree to take home but with Christmas sometimes getting slightly too hectic the delivery option is fab and convenient too. 

How will you decorate your tree though? Previously I have let the children help decorate the tree. We made it a family tradition to all gather around and pass the decorations out of the boxes and hang them together on the newly placed tree. However, my tree has never looked as nice as I would like it to thanks to my slightly over enthusiastic helpers! Colour schemes went out of the window, branches were overloaded with more than one decoration and the youngest spent most of December undecorating the tree too.

This year I have decided to buy lots of new colour coordinated decorations and try my best to make it look fabulous. Apologies in advance to my mini helpers but I'm decorating the tree myself this year.

What colour schemes do you go for? Do you go for a traditional theme or more modern? Do you put tinsel on your tree? Coloured lights or plain? All these decisions are actually hard to make when you usually don't consider them when decorating the tree so I have been looking for inspiration.

Pines and Needles do also offer a full professional decorating service for homes and offices if you wanted everything down for you. Options can be discussed with them in full and they can even come and take the tree away after Christmas too.

In the two pictures featured are a lovely selection of Christmas tree pictures from friends and the wonderful ways that they decorate each year. Whether you go red and gold, or silver and teal, or just stick with one colour throughout all of the decorations I think you will agree that they all look magnificent and really give some good ideas of colour and styles. 




We are all so excited for December 1st as its always lovely to have the tree in place and decorated, the smell is always lovely and excitement fills the air as it means Christmas is coming very soon. Stay tuned for an update on our Christmas tree and it's decoration once it arrives from Pines and Needles. Head over to their website too if you want to order your tree easily and conveniently online and have it delivered to your door as well as lots of decorations and lights to choose from too.




Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Wicked Wednesdays; When the toddler goes quiet and you enjoy the peace for a bit too long, please go and check what they are up too! A toddler and a can of spray foam soap.

Foam bath soap and a toddler, enough said really! he's like a rabbit caught in the headlights in this picture! 

Caught in the act and even his makeshift cushion fort can't save him from angry, yet silently giggling, Mum! 




Thing 5 and a can of spray foam soap! 



brummymummyof2

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Christmas traditions in your home, who brings the presents? Should we be told by others what we (or Santa) can buy at Christmas time?



Recently there has been a post going around on Facebook about Christmas and Christmas presents for children.

It states that we should be mindful of other children that don't get big, expensive gifts from Santa and so to tell our children that we bought the expensive gifts and to keep their gifts from Santa small. 

Should we be told what to do to save the disappointment of others? I mean that's like me telling my friend not to buy herself new clothes because I don't have a full wardrobe like she does. Or telling my parents to stop going out for dinner because we don't have meals out as often as they do and it's not fair on me. I mean, come on, that's just silly. It's not for me to dictate to people what I want them to do to please me and not upset me. Surely our children should be raised to be grateful for the things that they do get regardless of what others have or receive?

Christmas traditions differ a lot from household to household. In our house Santa brings a stocking full of small gifts and the gifts under the tree are from Mum and Dad. In other households Santa brings all of the presents.

My children have never come home from school and complained that their friends got more than they did from Santa or that Santa bought little Bobby at school an iPad and he only bought them pants. Socks and a small toy! I think the overall excitement is that Santa had been to visit and did anybody catch a glimpse of him this year!

All families are also different when it comes to budgets. Some are very modest budgets and others spend as much as they like. I'm not here to dictate what people should or shouldn't spend on their children, that's entirely up to the individuals.



I try to keep to the present rule of something they want, something they need, something they will wear, something they will read and one extra special request. However, it doesn't always work out that way. The older children want presents that cost more but look less than the toys that the younger ones want, I don't try and spend the same on them all either as that's impossible with the age ranges I have.

Thing 3's list is actually very modest this year and has things like a hat and scarf and a hot water bottle on it. These are things that she really wants and she will get them but she won't then complain that someone at school got an iPad as this isn't something that is on her list anyway.

Christmas to me is about family, spending time together and enjoying the season. As I said, I try and be modest about what I buy and not to over do it but that doesn't always happen. As long as the children get some gifts and are grateful for what they have then that makes me happy.

Whatever your traditions or your budget Christmas is as magical as you make it whether they get one present or tonnes of presents.

What do you think? What are your Christmas traditions?


Super Busy Mum

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Discount codes and offers including Argos toys 3 for 2, Gap VIP 40%, Office shoes 20%, Foot Locker 25%, Boden 25% and many more offers from selected stores.

I have had quite a few discount codes and offers drop into my email inbox recently so I thought I would share them here. Ideal on the run up to Christmas as we all look for good prices on gifts and presents for friends and family.

Gap VIP are offering a fab 40% off instore and online until November 8th. I placed an order the other day which is on its way to me already. Ideal if your little ones have had a growth spurt like Thing 5 or if you need to stock up Winter warmers. Restrictions do apply on a few of their items. INSTORE 3RD-9TH NOVEMBER, ONLINE 3RD-7TH NOVEMBER. Sign up to their emails for more details. 

Foot Locker 25% starts today until November 8th. CODE VIPDEAL25D  For all those shoe addicts like myself! Again it's ideal for Christmas presents too.

Boden 25% discount ends TONIGHT. So get in quickly. Lots of clothes for friends and family, either as Christmas gifts or if the kiddies have had a growth spurt, or just or treat yourself!

Office shoes 20% off starts today and ends November. CODE; FAB20 Get those warm Winter boots ordered to some wellies for the horrible wet Winter days.

Tesco Clubcard Boost has started across many of its departments. Boost your Clubcard vouchers towards gifts, household items and more. Every £5 of Clubcard vouchers converts to £10 across all of these departments;


Rumour has it that the Argos 3 for 2 toys offer is due to start very soon so keep your eyes peeled. Ideal on the run up to Christmas.

Halfords have got half price on selected kids bikes and are doing an extra 10% off all kids bikes until Monday 8th November. Ts and Cs apply.

Smiggle have 50% off selected goodies when you spend £20 or more instore or online.

Emma Bridgewater are offering free personalisation (up to 10 letters) on personalised mugs and tea cups. Ts and Cs apply, offer ends midnight on Friday 6th November 2015.

I hope some of these offers help to get your Christmas shopping under way or saves you a few pennies if you are needing to buy every day essentials. I will try and keep up more posts with discount codes and offers on the lead up to Christmas.






Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Full preview pictures of the NEW Mothercare Little Bird by Jools Oliver Spring Summer 2016 collection.

MOTHERCARE 2016 SPRING SUMMER LITTLE BIRD BY JOOLS OLIVER COLLECTION

Today I went into London to preview the Mothercare Spring Summer 2016 range. Included in the range was the new Little Bird by Jools Oliver collection. I have included pictures below of every Little Bird item that was on display today. I hope you like what the Spring Summer 2016 collection has to offer. 



The complete collection on display





Lots of items feature a lovely fish print and the all over print on the pyjamas crosses over to the print on the top underneath the green pinafore dress as well as baby trousers featured in a different picture. The red dress has a lovely floral detail on the collar.




A new set of socks to compliment the new range. The lovely summery beach scene t-shirt plus girls dress and orange coloured pear top with green trim.




Lots of items from the baby range including the all over print trousers and lots of all in ones for the warmer Summer months.



Lots of baby all in ones including striped and summer prints that features on the bigger children's pyjamas.



A new cherry print umbrella, very sweet little turtle print trousers which were part of a 2 set and you can also get matching vest and bibs. Fish print baby summer onesie, pear print baby grow, duck t-shirt and sailing boat t-shirt. 




Kite print t-shirt, rainbow waisted jogging bottoms, jeans, summer print dress, patchwork skirt, green knit short sleeved top, girls gingham top and summer print top and shorts set. 



Lots of older childrens items too including t-shirts, long sleeved tops and jackets. The long sleeved baby vests with colours on the front are lovely. 


More older childrens. Sail boat print t-shirt, yellow knit cardigan, purple rainbow print t-shirt, floral skirt, yellow floral print dress, terry towelling fish onesie, floral shorts and crayon t-shirt.


Rainbow jumper, umbrella design long sleeve top, printed t-shirt, denim all in one suit, rainbow stripe t-shirt, colours print t-shirt, fish print t-shirt, striped t-shirt and blue dress. 

The Spring Summer Little Bird collection has so much to offer. I look forward to seeing it in stores on the new year. 

Which pieces do you like? Do you like the new prints? 

Let's Talk Mommy