Saturday, 10 November 2018

Choosing your real Christmas tree and how to decorate it. What type of tree? What colour scheme?

The festive season is creeping up far too fast and the children are counting down the days until we can put the Christmas 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!

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.

Last year I 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. I have also bought a few new ones this year to add to the colour scheme and we bought new lights as they needed an update. 

Here's our Christmas tree from last year, complete with Amazon Alexa to turn on the lights, no more fighting to get to the plug socket behind the tree! 


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.

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.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Christmas is what you make it and about the traditions your family share. It's never too early to think about Christmas.

Christmas ornaments displayed in the living room. 

I’m mentioning the C word and I don’t care. There will be people reeling in shock that I’ve mentioned Christmas in November and others that will love the fact that Christmas is being mentioned. Some of us like to be super organised and others like to wait until a couple of weeks before Christmas before getting everything sorted. 

 Every year there’s an argument over when Christmas should be mentioned, when we should start shopping, when the Christmas cards and chocolates should appear in the shops and so on. There are those that think it's too early and others (like myself) that can't wait but I think the majority would say it's too early. 

Some people like to be super organised and will have started their Christmas shopping in the last January sales and I don’t blame them. Christmas can be costly not just for presents but decorations, food, travel and more. Starting early for some is a necessity because they need to spread the cost out. Christmas traditions too. People love to have an opinion on what you are or aren’t doing at Christmas. 

Our yearly tradition was to take the children to see Santa at Harrods. In more recent years we have looked at other places and this year in particular I am choosing somewhere special! 

It’s nobody's business and completely down to you and only you what you do. Don’t let others make you feel bad because you’ve started your Christmas shopping early or you are already needing to book to go and see Santa. Whether you buy one present per child or fifty presents per child. Whether you let everyone open one gift on Christmas Eve. You make a Christmas Eve box. You let the children stay up late on Christmas Eve. 

Yes we have an elf on the shelf but each year I forget about it. This year I may forget too! 

 Who cares! Christmas is what you make it and you only. What you and your family do is no concern of anyone else. We shouldn’t be judging people because we don’t think it’s right. There’s no right or wrong. In my opinion even my own Christmas has changed compared to how my parents did Christmas and sometimes I do think that I myself could make Christmas a lot less stressful and more about just spending time with the family. Do we need 3 trees? Do I need to get so stressed over cooking Christmas dinner? Will the children really appreciate all of the presents I bought and should I just stick with one or two practical gifts? Do what you want to do. 

Each year we all go and choose the tree together and decorate it together whilst listening to Christmas music (followed by a takeaway!), we choose to visit Santa each year and on Christmas Eve we spend the day with family taking the children bowling and for pizza. It's traditions we have made and will continue for years to come hopefully. 

Choosing a tree!

Last years Christmas tree and dining room all decorated and ready. 

It's not anyone else's business what you do, how far you travel, what advent calendar you buy or what you fill the children's stocking with, whether you eat the traditional turkey dinner or not, how much you do or don't decorate the house or if you choose to hide away and try to avoid all of it.  

Enjoy the festive season as it’s there to be enjoyed. To bring families together who don’t see each other very often, to spend time with loved ones and follow family traditions that will hopefully be continued by your children and maybe try new ones if you want to but just have the Christmas that you truly enjoy.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Dear Nan, my final goodbye..............

Dear Nan, my final goodbye..............

As this blog post goes live your final journey will just be beginning. Starting at the house where you were born and lived all of your life and ending at the place where we have to say Goodbye one final time.

I am rubbish with words but here goes.

The hardest farewells are the ones where you know you won't see that person ever again. We did have time to prepare, although nothing can ever really prepare you for these final goodbyes.

I knew today would be hard but didn't think I would cry on one of the school teachers this morning, you would have told me to pull myself together but Thing 5 was sad this morning too. 

You were always such a strong and independent person up until the day you were taken ill. All of your life was spent working in the shop and caring for others, looking after your sons and taking care of Grandad when he was taken ill. 

So many people have fond memories of the store that you ran and the wonderful couple that you and Grandad were. Helping out the local community and running the shop to provide everything they needed. They don't make local stores like they used to!

As we were growing up you looked after us on many occasions. The time we stayed with you and I hated the sound of the loud ticking clock in our room, I am sure I tested your patience but you never complained. The Sunday walks down the lane, the warm toast with anchor butter on that you made us after school and the trips out to town to buy us new dresses and to have lunch.

 More recently I would pop round to yours for a cuppa and you would have some lunch ready, salmon sandwiches and a cake. You would always say 'I need some help with my crossword' or the name game in your daily newspaper and I would try and help if I could (although Google sometimes helped too, sorry Nan!). After a goodbye hug the smell of your perfume would linger for days afterwards. 

The times you would step into every new car of Auntieof5's and would exclaim 'Ooh it's so lovely'. Even if she had a car that was ready for the scrap yard you would have said it still.

How Dadof5 would do such silly things that you would say that he always makes you laugh even up until your final few moments when he told you to 'Go and be with Noris' even though your husband's name was Maurice. I bet you are all having a giggle over that now. 

You loved an afternoon tea especially if it came with a glass of prosecco or two. You loved trying lots of cakes and scones although nothing will ever beat a slice of your much loved banana cake you always used to make.

In March this year you welcomed your first great, great granddaughter and you were so happy when you first met her and held her in your arms. Then in August you turned 90 years old and received so many cards from everyone who loved and cared for you, what a wonderful age to reach. 

Even when you were poorly in hospital you joked with the nurse. The nurse was giving you some water and you told her it would go down much better if it was Baileys or a shandy!

We would visit as much as we could over the nine weeks that you were there, sometimes you were sleeping and I would just stroke your hair and other times you were awake and as chatty as you could be.

Great great Nan and great great granddaughter. Their final goodbye.

In those final few days you still never complained. You stayed as strong as you could even though you were growing weak until, on September 16th, you passed away. I had only seen you just half an hour before and I was so cross I hadn't stayed longer to be with you. 


So as we spend today saying goodbye to the greatest Nan anyone could ask for we will raise a glass of Leffe, eat banana cake and I might even do a crossword or two. 

Goodbye Nan........... until we meet again. xxx

Friday, 5 October 2018

Our long awaited bedroom makeover with home furniture and decor from Asda, Wayfair and Dunelm

Our new bedroom*

Home improvements are constant in our house. Home interiors and decor frighten me too and there is always something that needs doing or a job that isn't quite finished. 

Now the children are getting older (although no more helpful!) we are trying to make the house a home and decorate the house how we really would like it. 

Our bedroom was always the last thing on our minds. The children's bedrooms were always decorated first as well as the kitchen, front room etc..... 

Apart from a fresh coat of paint and some new curtains around five years ago our bedroom hasn't been top priority. As it was unloved it became the dumping ground for everything. The children also delight in bringing in books and toys that never left and the husband had a pretty impressive floordrobe! 

So over the past couple of months or so we decided to change all of that and finally make our bedroom one of the nice rooms that we wanted. 

I'm not the best when it comes to home interiors and decor. I see so many homes and interiors on social media that I am so envious of and yet if I tried to do anything it would look like one of those disasters from BBC'S Changing Rooms back in the 90s. 

The start of it all was navy paint. I wanted a navy feature wall and Dulux's Sapphire Salute had been recommended. We managed to pick it up whilst on offer in our local Wickes at buy one get one free for a 2.5 litre tin. 

We decided on white paint for the other three walls and I put the OH to work with a paint brush or two! 

Next on my list was the sleigh bed. This had been on my 'want' list for a very long time. We had a divan base bed which we had for many years and so I shopped around for a style that we liked. We settled on the Bel √Čtage Winchester upholstered sleigh bed frame from Wayfair. It still had two very spacious drawers underneath too which was great. I had also bought a home magazine recently which had a voucher in for 10% off your first order so that came in handy when ordering too. 

Love Cushion, £7, George Home at Asda

Geometric cushion £7, pink velvet cushion £5 and grey knit pom pom cushion £10, all George Home at Asda 

All of the cushions, bedding and throw are from Asda. I love all of the cushions but the knitted pom pom cushion is my favourite. 

We had decided to get rid of the wardrobe and tall boy that we had in a very dark wood which had also seen us through a fair few years of storage duties and we went for white furniture. The hanging items from the wardrobe where rehomed in a built in cupboard space in another room and we bought the Ikea Malm double drawer unit for our room. Between the Malm drawer unit and the spacious under bed drawers there is plenty of space for all of clothing. 

Bedding, cushions and accessories all needed to co-ordinate. Or at least in my 'throw it all together and hope it looks good' eyes it needed to match as much as possible. 

Asda Home have loads of fab products at the moment and all of our bedding, cushions, and accessories on the Malm unit are all from there. I love the grey knitted pom pom cushions and the pink quilted throw on the end of the bed. The geometric bronze lamps will be put on bedside tables once I've decided on some. 

Ikea Malm drawers with all of our accessories. The geometric lamps are for bedside tables which we are yet to purchase. Malm drawers, £80, Ikea.

Small wooden storage, £8, George Home at Asda

Marble and copper effect calendar block, £6, George Home at Asda

Geometric shape table lamp, £, George Home at Asda

Hexagonal hanging mirror, £8, George Home at Asda

All of our accessories are from Asda. They have a great range of products to choose from at the moment. 

The curtains, curtain pole and lampshade came from Dunelm. We are very lucky to have a store in our town so myself and a friend met there for coffee and spent a good couple of hours browsing through the whole store. I settled on the Harris charcoal thermal eyelet curtains, extendable trumpet end curtain pole and the Priya white easy fit pendant lampshade. The same home magazine that gave me discount for Wayfair also had a 15% discount code for Dunelm on purchases over £50 so again we saved money on purchases for our room makeover. 

Priya white easy fit pendant, £25, Dunelm

Harris thermal blackout curtains in charcoal, price varies on size. These were £80 for 90" wide by 54" drop, Dunelm

The gorgeous Dunelm Priya lampshade, Harris thermal curtains in charcoal and trumpet curtain pole. 

The faux plant in the planter was a huge bargain from Sainsbury's. I spotted it in there a few weeks ago but at £24 I was hesitant to buy then when I popped in a few days later it had been reduced to just £7.20. Faux plants are my best friend, I cannot look after real plants! 

Sainsburys faux plant and footed planter. Bargain at £7.20. 

There is a still few more things I would like to add. Maybe a chair in the corner like the Dunelm Isla chair which looks gorgeous and comes in grey, pink and midnight so either colour would fit perfectly with our colour scheme and some prints on the walls but for now I am loving the end result. However it now puts the rest of the house to shame! 

Pass me a paint brush, I'm on a roll. 

*Bel √Čtage Winchester upholstered sleigh bed, £449.99 in king size, Wayfair. Pink quilted pinsonic throw, £15, George Home at Asda.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Our Poundland bath and beauty Christmas stocking filler shopping haul

Poundland Christmas bath and beauty shopping haul

Christmas is fast approaching and as a mum of five I have to be prepared. We have so many family gifts to buy I have to start my shopping early. 

I tend to pick up stocking fillers as and when I see something that would be ideal for one of the children. 

Poundland over the past few years have always done a great range of bath and beauty products which are ideal to go in the children's stockings and this year there are more great products on offer. 

I have been looking in my local store for a week or two now as I knew their Christmas range was due on the shop floor at any time. So when I popped in earlier this week and saw that the shelves had been stocked I filled my basket ready to stash away for Christmas. 

First up is this amazing three pack of unicorn shaped bath bombs. Bath bombs are very popular in our house and as well as being stocking fillers these would be great as gifts for when the children have birthday parties to go to. 

Three pack of unicorn bath bombs all for just £1!

Larger bath bombs, lip balms and shaped beauty sponges

There are also the larger snowman, gingerbread man and polar bear bath bombs in coconut, gingerbread and vanilla scents. Also pictured are some scented lip balm and shaped beauty make pop sponges. 

Bath fizzes gift sets

More bath fizzers, the Things love their bath bombs!. A three pack of small bath fizzers making up a gingerbread person and a polar bear, cute little gifts. 

Finally I picked up these white floral musk vanilla bath salts with hanging ribbon. These look lovely and again a great little gift for stocking fillers, or as token gifts for friends and relatives too. In the main picture at the top of the page there are also 2 similar shaped bath bombs on the opposite side of the picture to these. 

I am sure I caught them just as they were putting all of their new products out and there will be more to come over the next couple of weeks. For now I have made a good start with my Christmas shopping. 

So head down to your local Poundland today and grab some fab festive bath and beauty stocking fillers ready for the Christmas season. 

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? 

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Losing your identity and wanting to be more than just someone's Mummy. Finding some more 'me time'

I spend my days running around after the five children and don't make, or get, time for myself. Bedtimes get so late that by the time you get them all in bed you don't have time to sit down and chill out for a bit before it's your own bedtime. The nights fly by and suddenly it's morning again and you jump straight into the routine of uniforms, lunches, making breakfast, brushing hair, making sure they have washed and brushed their teeth.

You are dashing out of the door so fast that your head is all over the place. You're stressing as you left so fast you aren't sure if you have everything, inevitably with me it's the house keys! I rush to make sure they get to school on time, in nice clean uniform, hair brushed and faces clean yet I look like I've been dragged through a hedge backwards. I'm sporting the scraped back pony tail and I'm lucky that I got out of my PJ's in time. I can't be a PJ's on the school run Mum but I sometimes wish I was. Although I wish I could just stay at home and not get out of my PJ's!

Stressful times followed by peaceful times.

 So the kids are at school, you run from the school playground shouting 'Freeedooooommmm' except you know your day isn't going to be filled with coffee dates, manicures and endless amounts of clothes shopping. The washing up needs doing, hoovering, three loads of clothes washing, picking up the discarded toys and clothes from the floor, mopping the kitchen floor and dinner prep ready for hungry Thing's after school plus much, much more. 

Then it's back to the afternoon school run and home for the usual evening routine of dinner, homework, bath time, reading books, learning words, a bit of arguing thrown in for good measure and some TV/iPod/Kindle time. As I run around cooking meals, running baths, reciting Biff and Chip books to the best of my ability I'm also the referee in a boxing match between some children.

Evening time soon turns into bedtime and  I then spend my evenings sorting out everyone else's bedtimes. No one goes to sleep nicely, they are up and down because they've finished their water, they need the toilet again, it's too dark, they have a headache, it's too cold, it's too hot or their leg has fallen off. Nothing major and all for the joy of making me get up and down 20 million times to sort them out. So that's my evening gone.

A hot chocolate of an evening always helps to relax you just a bit! 

           Thing 1 and Dadof5 getting some 'us time'. I think they enjoyed themselves! 

Each day seems to roll into one at the moment. I don't know where one ends and one begins. I want my me time back. I do go out on a Tuesday evening. It's nice whilst I am out but you can guarantee that I will return and there will still be children awake. So I don't relax, I don't enjoy my time out as much as I should because I know what I am going to face when I get home. I miss my Tuesday night that ended by me creeping back into the house and checking on sleeping children before slipping into bed and being asleep instantly. I want that night back.

The troublemakers! 

Rarely during the week will I go out, every now and again I meet a friend for lunch. In the school playground I don't even have a name. Oh here's Thing 3's Mummy they will say. I'm not a person, I'm my child's possession. I belong to that child so I have no identity of my own.

Don't be fooled by the innocent looking darling! 

Will I ever find a new me? Will things ever get easier? Am I destined to never find my name again and always be 'The Thing's Mummy'? Will I ever know what it's like to pee alone rather than being watched by a toddler? 

Who knows?! 

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Our family day out at Marwell Wildlife Zoo with their new Tropical House.

A day out at Marwell Zoo

We were all so excited to be visiting Marwell Wildlife Zoo recently. The whole family loves a day out at the zoo and Marwell isn’t far from where we live in Hampshire. 

The Things as we arrived. 

We have visited Marwell Zoo before but it was a few years ago now and they’ve recently added the new Tropical House to the zoo. In the Tropical House you will find leaf cutting ants, fish, tortoises and butterflies flying above your head as well as birds. Meeting the sloth was the highlight of our day although we did of course enjoy the rest of the zoo too. 

When we arrived we followed the flow of the roads and pathways to make our way around the zoo. It is also very well signposted and their is a map that you can pick up too. 

On our way round we saw penguins, flamingoes, hippos, tigers, meerkats, cheetahs, and more. There were so many different animals to see. So many of the animals also had different places to stand and spot them. Some at ground level, some higher level view points and the penguins also have a place where you can stand and see them swim underwater. 

The giraffes were great. They were inside when we visited but had they been outside there are some great viewing points to go and see them. There wasn't any animals we didn't see at the zoo thanks to all of these different viewpoints. 

The weather wasn’t great the day we visited but it didn’t spoil the day and we spent plenty of time exploring and finding the different animals. Each child had a different animal that they wanted to see and so we planned a route around the Zoo to see all of the them and also pinpoint where the specific animals they wanted to see were going to be. 

Thing 5 was desperate to see the sloth but we didn't want them to rush looking at all of the animals in order to get to their favourite but I wasn't to worry. We spent plenty of time looking and also sometimes searching for the animals. 

The new Tropical House was amazing. It covers 2 different levels and you walk in on the top level. As soon as you get inside it is lovely and warm and you get to see the sloth first. We were all very excited and Thing 5 was super excited. We had to be very quiet around the sloth and we spent lots of time looking at him and watching him move slowly on his branch hanging from the tree. 

Thing 5 with his new sloth friend. His favourite part of the day. 

Also in the Tropical House there are tropical free-flying birds and butterflies, frogs, pygmy marmosets on an island above the aquarium that is home to 2,500 fish. As you venture down towards the forest floor level you will see Javan Chevrotain (mouse deer), mountain tortoises and insects such as beetle. You will also find a viewing window into the aquarium and as you continue outwards you will find the leaf cutting ants working hard and the crocodile monitor lizard.  

After we visited the Tropical House we were off to find the snow leopard which was on Thing 4's list of things to see. On our way we went past Life among the Trees and spotted all of the different monkeys including the Siamang and golden lion tamarin. The children loved watching them jump and move about and some of them were eating too which was fun to watch. 

The snow leopard which was standing right by the fence for everyone to see, Thing 4 was very pleased to see it. 

We had a fantastic day out at Marwell Zoo and would highly recommend it as a full, fun family day out. There are so many animals to see and lots of things to do and learn on your way round. The weather didn't put us off and there were plenty of undercover areas to see animals too. There was also a great indoor picnic area as well as plenty of outdoor space and also Cafe Graze for some great meal choices. 

We of course didn't forget to go into the gift shop before we left and Thing 5 couldn't leave without buying a 'pet sloth' to bring home which hasn't left his side since. 

What's your favourite animal to see at the zoo?

Disclaimer; We were given entry into Marwell Zoo for review purposes. All thoughts and comments are our own.