Tuesday, 31 December 2013

December's been and gone

I can't believe we are at the end of December, and the end of another year.

It's been a great year for me - I have been on maternity leave for most of the year and baby girl was born at the very start of spring.  It's been a privilege to take our son to school and back every day, and see how he has settled into school life.  I've also loved watching baby girl grow from a helpless little thing, to the curious and engaging little girl she is now.

I'd love to hear about your highlights for December, here are mine:

  • A work Christmas lunch in London. Me for a whole day!
  • Our son's first Christmas nativity. What a great innkeeper he was.
  •  Visiting the German Christmas market in Birmingham, and a giant hot dog.
  • Baby girl eating everything in sight, by herself.  Love baby led weaning!
  • Christmas jumpers.  A pudding, snowmen and penguins, a little reindeer and Jolly.
  • Lapland UK.  Such precious memories of ice skating, gingerbread decorating, and a very happy boy and girl.
  • Christmas day.  "He's been, he's been!".  Baby girl loving all the noise and fuss.
  • Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest.  The spa.  Four precious hours to myself.  Bliss.
  • Walks in the forest on clear days.

Happy memories of this month and year.. .what are yours?

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas

The mince pie and carrots are out.  All is quiet.  I wonder if Father Christmas will visit?

Merry Christmas x

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Chicco Happiness competition winners

Thanks to everyone who entered my Chicco Happiness competition to win bilingual toys in time for Christmas.

The winners were randomly selected by Rafflecopter, and entries were checked to ensure the options selected had been completed.

First prize winner of Chicco Teddy Count With Me and  Talking Dragon is ....

Abby Carroll - congratulations!

Second prize winner of Chicco Talking Carpenter is.....

Angela Wilson - well done!

I hope to run more competitions in the very near future, so please check back soon.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Random act of kindness - week two

You may remember last week I posted about random acts of kindness.  It seems strange that once you think of something, you notice it all around.

This week I've seen lots of kindness when out and about with baby girl.  Small things like a door being held open, and people smiling and saying hello on the school run.  If you believe the news we're a broken nation, but I don't think we are.  People are good and kind, and those that are not are the exception.

I committed to performing a random act of kindness every week.. so here's this week's.  It's not big, but will hopefully make a little boy smile.

  • Passing on a nearly new remote controlled car to a friend for her little boy.  I hope he will love it!

Have you helped anyone this week, or been on the receiving end of kindness?  I'd love to hear about it.

Linking up with #PoCoLo at vevivos.com for this post.

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Sunday, 8 December 2013

Family Christmas window

This is an extra special Christmas for us, as it's baby girl's first Christmas.  I wanted to do something special that would become a Christmas tradition for us, as well as record and celebrate our first Christmas as a family of four.

So, I thought I'd start a family Christmas window.  The idea's simple - each member of our family has a ribbon, and fills it with Christmas things personal to them.  They all hang from the curtain rail of a window.  It instantly makes a room feel Christmassy, and it's personal too!

I decided to decorate our dining room window.  Not only is it totally uninspiring at the moment, it's also where we'll eat Christmas dinner, so will be a real talking point.

Here's how we made it look very festive.

I pulled together bits and bobs of Christmas paper, gift tags, ribbons and some hand made Christmas decorations.  I'm not sure baby girl looks too impressed with the prospect at this stage!

We decided to have four items each on 'our' ribbon.  A handprint, a decoration, a star and a tag.

First of all, we selected our favourite paper and set about drawing round our hands.  Getting baby girl to keep still was a bit tricky!  Next we cut them out.

We did the same for a star each.  They were different sizes depending how big we each were.  Husband had the biggest, and baby girl had the smallest.  Our son loved cutting his out!

Next we decorated some gift tags with our initials and a star.  We wrote on the back a wish for 2014, or one thing we'd like Santa to bring us this year.  Our son chose some Lego - I hope Santa was listening!

We chose a Christmas decoration each that we'd bought from our son's school Christmas fair a week or two ago.  We buy a new decoration each every year, and this is a perfect way to use it.  I chose a snowflake, our son chose a lovely Christmas tree decorated with buttons, he also chose a robin for baby girl and my husband selected a Christmas pudding (the same as his Christmas jumper!).

Finally, so we can remember in years to come which year this was, I cut out '2013' out of some lovely Christmassy paper.

So we had all our items, and I set about attaching them to our individual ribbons.  For ease, I used staples.  But if you have more time than me, you could punch holes in each item and knot the ribbon through.

Next, I cleared the window sill and added some lovely Christmassy pot pourri.

Then I hung the ribbons from the curtain rail to complete the look..

I love it!  It might not be the most stylised, or 'perfect' look, but it's unique and completely personal to us.  I plan to keep each ribbon and add to it year after year so we can see how much our children's hands have grown and how our wishes and present list changes.  I may need longer ribbons at some point!

Do you make decorations with your family?  I'd love to hear if you do, please leave a comment.

This is my entry to the Shutterly Fabulous winter window dressing competition. 

Silent Sunday


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Random acts of kindness

Listening to Chris Evans this morning, I loved hearing all the random acts of kindness in his top ten-uous.  You can hear that it made a difference and lasting impression on people's lives.

So I'm declaring Tuesdays as my random act of kindness day.  I promise, at least once a week to do a random act of kindness and blog about it on Tuesdays.

Would you like to join in?  I'd love to hear if you helped someone, or if someone helped you.  It can be big or small, but must be kind, and random (of course!).

So today's random act of kindness from me....
  • I finally spoke to a lone Dad in the school playground this morning, who has looked intimidated by the gaggle of Mums chatting for ages.  He was lovely, and seemed grateful to speak to someone!

I'd absolutely love to hear yours... please leave a comment.

Linking up with #PoCoLo at vevivos.com for this post.

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Sunday, 1 December 2013

Slow cooker spicy butternut squash soup

I love this curried, spicy butternut squash soup.  It's so warming on cold autumn and winter days.  It's really filling too.

I love to make it in the slow cooker so it's ready to enjoy after a long day.. perfect.

Spicy butternut squash soup

Serves 4-6
I use a large slow cooker, reduce quantities by half for a smaller version.

  • One large, or two small onions, chopped.
  • Two large, or three small butternut squashes, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • Four tablespoons of cumin seeds
  • Four tablespoons of Patak's Madras curry paste
  • Three vegetable stock cubes, crumbled
  • 1.25 litres cold water (you can use hot to speed up cooking time)
  • One lemon
  • 500ml creme fraiche (I use low fat)
  • Handful of chopped coriander if you have it (I didn't!)

Put everything in the slow cooker apart from the lemon, creme fraiche and coriander and give it a good stir. 

Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high 4-6 hours.  Once cooked, mash the butternut squash to make desired consistency - we like it chunky.  You can freeze it at this stage too.

Stir through the creme fraiche, lemon and coriander if using.

Serve with naan bread and tuck in.  Yum!

I'd love to know if you make this soup or if you have any other slow cooker recipes you love.  Please leave a comment.

Linking up with A Mummy Too for this post.

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Silent Sunday