Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas Organisation - Christmas week!


Well done people.  Christmas is almost upon us and you've survived! You have survived the shopping, the crowds, the office parties, the Christmas concerts and god knows what else.  I truly hope that now we can all take some time and enjoy the festivities stress free.  I know I'm an advocate for being organised, but only because I personally enjoy it.

Even if you aren't organised, it isn't the end of the world.  Just enjoy yourself and know that you are going to make the most of this fabulous time.  No one will care if you forgot the pigs in blankets or if you didn't make your own Christmas crackers.  Those things don't make memories.  So, laugh loudly, love freely and do whatever makes you happy this Christmas.  Take photos, be gluttonous and cherish your family.   So now, why not take a moment just for you, pour a glass or mug of your favourite festive tipple and melt into the sofa for a while. 

I wish you all wonderful Christmas time, and I hope the New Year brings you all that you hope for.




Thursday, 20 December 2012

If you can't say anything nice...



As a parent I hate being judged by others.  Being measured by their standards, having my decisions and choices judged and questioned.  It makes me feel sad, doubtful and sometimes even ridiculously angry. I know I shouldn't care. I know in my heart that I have considered all my decisions at length and with great care. I know that each decision I make in terms of parenting is based on what I truly believe is best for my daughter.

So when I learned how awful and hurtful it can be to be judged, I decided I would try my best not to judge and not to interfere with the parenting decisions and choices of others.  I stood by the motto of;

"If you are happy, I'll be happy for you."

I have a bit of a problem though, and it is causing me to re-evaluate a friendship.  I thought that having children would have brought us closer together, but if anything it makes me want to break away from this friendship altogether.

The problem is, I'm doing something I promised I wouldn't do.  I'm judging my friend. Her actions make me angry.  Really angry.  I suppose you are wondering what she has done that is so terrible, so awful that I would consider ending friendship?  I promise you it is nothing awful or terrible. She doesn't beat her child, she doesn't endanger them or anything so extreme as that. Just let me try and explain.


Since my friend has had her child, she complains constantly to anyone who will listen about how she needs time away from her baby. She has gone out every weekend since her baby was born, leaving her child with her parents Fri-Sun so she can get drunk. She has openly and desperately appealed for babysitters on Facebook because she needs someone to babysit because she hasn't had time away from her baby for "days".  She says things openly about her baby stealing her social life.  You get the idea.

I know she loves her child, I don't doubt that in the slightest.  I just can't understand the change in her.      She is a lovely, kind person.  Yet it comes across now that she views her baby as a burden. She acts very selfishly, as if the baby is an inconvenience. I am by no means saying she shouldn't get out and enjoy herself.  Everyone deserves some time to themselves, but her partying seems excessive.  Especially considering she was never a party animal before she was pregnant.  Knowing how fast Holly's first year has gone, I worry that she will miss so much of her baby's precious days. The baby days are so short, they will be over before she knows it.  As much as I enjoy a night out and time to myself, I have plenty of years ahead of me for more, and I had plenty beforehand too. I personally feel she is missing out on so much.

I think another reason it bothers me is because I have many other close friends battling with infertility and would move heaven and earth to have what she has, and she doesn't seem to appreciate how very lucky she is.  I feel totally shitty for writing all this, but my feelings of anger towards my friend have been growing over the last few months. The way she talks about her child like some kind of inconvenience. It bothers me so much.  If I have to be 100% honest, I'd go as far as to say that I think she wasn't ready to start a family. There, I've said it. I feel like a horrid person for judging her.

My problem is, I cannot talk to her and listen to the things she says and hold my tongue much longer. How she raises her child is no concern of mine and I don't think I have any right to tell her off.  One thing I know is that she isn't the person I thought she was.  So I don't think I can be her friend anymore. I don't want that kind of influence in my life, or my daughters.


So what do you think of this situation? Am I a rotten judgemental bitch from Hell?  Do I need to keep my nose out and my mouth shut?  Have you experienced anything similar with a friend, and what would you do if you did? Please help, I'm lost here...









Monday, 10 December 2012

It's Christmas!


It seems t'is the season to get tagging, and I have been tagged in this Christmas cracker by the loverly and fabulously festive Sonya Cisco.  So without further ado, strap on your Santa hats and hang on to your elf ears...it's about to get very Christmassy all up in this blog!



What's your favourite thing about Christmas?

Can I say ALL OF IT?  That is really what I would say (well apart from busy shops and psychotic last minute panic shoppers with a death wish).  If you are absolutely going to force me to choose then I would say decorating the tree.  Or hearing Carols sung by a real choir  (it gives me goosebumps).  Also, I'm sure as Holly gets older I will love seeing her open her presents.  Last year she was 9 days old on Christmas day so we haven't experienced that yet.  I'm already excited to see how she reacts this Christmas!


What is your favourite make-up look for the festive season?

I do love make-up but I tend not to go for really bold make up.  I wear make-up regularly so probably a little bit of a variation on the normal.  I like pin-up make-up, so for Christmas day I'll do some winged eyeliner and red lips (that is as bold as I get).  I might pop on some false lashes.  I don't wear those ridiculous huge ones, the natural look ones are good.  I have short eyelashes so even those make a subtle difference and don't look fake.  When I wear them people always ask what mascara I'm wearing!  I get the ones from e.l.f cosmetics, they are great and only cost £1.50 a pair!  They are the best ones I've ever tried (and I've tried loads)!  Then some red or black nail polish and I'm done!


Real or Fake trees?

I am a lover of real trees.  They look and smell wonderful.  I have had one every year since I've had my own home.  This year we have an artificial tree as Holly is now walking and I'm worried about her choking or being poisoned by the needles.  I would be terrified of Holly pulling  a 6 foot tree down on top of herself.  Maybe next year we can consider a real one again.  We'll see!  Want to see our fake tree?  Here you go!

Not bad for a fake?


Giving or receiving presents?

Giving is the best!  I can't tell you how fun I find it!  I enjoy it so much I start my Christmas shopping in January!!  I like to make a list of who I need to buy for and then I have fun daydreaming about what I could get them.  I can get a bit obsessed!


Do you open your presents in the morning or evening?

I've always done it in the morning.  Although we always open one gift at midnight on Christmas eve.  Just as a treat.


What's your favourite Christmas film?

There are so many to choose from, it is so hard!  Not a fair question! *shakes fist*

A few of my favourites are It's a Wonderful Life, A Muppet Christmas Carol, Scrooged and Meet Me in St. Louis.


What is your favourite Christmas food?

Seriously, what's with the unfair questions?  I can't pick just one!  Are you nuts?  My favourites are Turkey, roast potatoes, pickles, cocktail sausages, ginger biscuits, quality street, do Chocolates count as real food?

I hate sprouts and Christmas pudding though. Disgusting!


Well now I'm done lets see who's been naughty or nice and landed themselves on my Christmas tag list...


Leopard Print Mommy

365 Pearls of Wisdom

My Mills Baby










Christmas Organisation Week Two - What are you wearing on Christmas day?



I won't be going to a work Christmas party this year, so I've not had to dig out the old faithful little black dress this year after being disappointed by the dresses I've seen in the shops.  I have to say I'm quite relieved about that.  However, I still need to find a dress or outfit that is appropriate for Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day as I have cooking to do and taking care of a baby I tend not to get overly dressed up for Christmas Day.  It is also far too time consuming spending time getting glammed up just to stuff myself with turkey!  A bulging gut isn't the best accessory for a fancy frock!

I don't think my legs look particularly good in trousers and it is hard to find nice ones in my length as I am a bit of a short arse, so I like a nice knee length dress.  I tend to opt for a plain block colour dress and jazz it up with some bold accessories or shoes.  So this is the outfit I'm considering for Christmas Day.  I'd love to know what you think.



The Dress




A simple black dress.  It has a bit of stretch to accomodate Christmas over-eating.





The Jewellery



Some blingy earrings to add a bit of sparkle to the plain black dress.


Similar to the earrings.




The shoes



These aren't my exact shoes, but very similar.  Not had a chance to take a pic of mine yet.  I call them sitting down shoes! As I can only wear such uncomfortably high heels when I know I won't be walking far!  I'll probably wear my slippers when I'm up prepping dinner, but after that it is my statement shoes all the way.  I think they really add glamour to a plain outfit!






That's it! What do you  think of my choice.  I think it is quite glamourous without making a huge effort.  No Bridget Jones knickers necessary!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Christmas Organisation Week Three - The Freezer is your friend



So come Christmas Day (although pretty much the whole of December) you are going to be very busy.  Especially if you are the host or hostess.  You are probably going to have a lot of people to feed while still being expected to be sociable and calm and downright perfect.  It can be pretty difficult, so when I think things are going to get on top of me I try to pre-prepare as much as I can. You would be surprised just how much you can prepare well in advance of Christmas Day. So below is a list of some of the Christmas Day essentials you can prep early or freeze to make the big day as stress free as possible.


We all know Christmas puddings can be made in advance, but if you also make Mince pies they can be frozen.  You can take out however many you need at the time and heat them through in a moderate oven and just dust with icing sugar before serving. Rum or brandy butter can also be frozen.


Parboil potatoes (to roast) for five minutes, drain and cool. Freeze when cold. You can do the same with wedges of carrot and parsnip, but parboil them for just three minutes, drain, cool and freeze. Boil Brussels sprouts for two minutes, drain and run them under the cold water tap - this preserves their bright green colour. Drain well and freeze when cold. If nothing else it will save you some room on the stove and will be a few less pots to wash on the big day!

Cranberry sauce, bread sauce and fresh sausage meat can all be frozen too.

In addition to all these Christmas dinner staples, you can make and freeze some other festive treats on standby to save you cooking from scratch over the rest of the festive season. Make some hearty soups, slow cooker stews or maybe even some curries.  

Even marinade some chicken breasts and freeze for quick lighter meals.

It really does help to do this type of prep in advance.  Why shouldn't you get the chance to relax and enjoy the festivities like everyone else?












Saturday, 1 December 2012

Christmas Organisation Week Four - Christmas Lights




No doubt, if you haven't put up your Christmas tree you will be doing it soon. The lights and baubles will be coming out of storage.  You will no doubt spend more time untangling strings of Christmas lights than actually putting up the tree.  I know I used to. It didn't matter how carefully I wound them up, they always tangled. So to save you time and stop you tearing your own hair out in frustration by the time next Christmas rolls around I'll share my simple tip on how to store your Christmas lights, tangle free.  If you don't already do this you will be amazed how simple it is!


All you need is some cardboard.  Simply wrap your lights around, it and you are all done.  Didn't I tell you it was ridiculously simple.  You can wrap them around a few other things too.  A cardboard tube from an old kitchen towel or even a coathanger would work.  Hope this saves someone a lighting related mental breakdown next year...







Friday, 30 November 2012

Christmas Organisation Week 5 - Favourite Christmas Songs


It is almost here, the day we put up the Christmas Tree.  If I'm honest it is probably one of my favourite parts of Christmas.  There is just something so satisfying about it. I light some candles, dim the lights and last but certainly not least, I put on my favourite festive music.  There is nothing else that gets me feeling more festive than going through this ritual every year.

So whether like me you are a lover of Christmas songs, or you hate them with a fiery passion, why not have a look at my list. I might actually introduce you to some songs you didn't know.


A Christmas Cornucopia, Annie Lennox

This isn't actually a single song, it is an entire album.  As a lifelong fan of Annie Lennox, when I heard about this album I knew I had to get it.  It did't disappoint.  Annie takes some beautiful  Christmas Carols and with the addition of her unique vocals, a 30 piece orchestra and African children's Choir creates something wonderful.  For me these songs are amazingly atmospheric, evoking a Christmas time from years gone by.  Listening to this album every year really makes my Christmas sparkle. Particular favourites on the album are Angel from The Realms of Glory and In the Bleak Midwinter.


Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Judy Garland

From the 1944 musical, Meet Me in St. Louis this song is one of my all time favourites.  I am a bit of a soppy bugger, and this song always brings a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat. It is sweet and just a little melancholy at the same time. The more popular Sinatra version is still lovely, but it misses that little bittersweet joy from Judy's version.  Just beautiful.


In Dulci Jubilo, Mike Oldfield

The literal translation of this song is "In Sweetest Rejoicing". It is such a bright, vibrant traditional carol. For me this carol brings to mind the joy and excitement of Christmas. I could almost imagine elfs dancing merrily to this while preparing gifts for children!



Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt

A sumptuous, indulgent gem of a song. Such fun, and very, very cheeky.  Always puts a smile on my face!  This song has been covered many times by the likes of Britney Spears and Madonna.  I think even Miss Piggy has had a go too, regardless though the original is still the best!


Jingle Bell Rock, Bobby Helms

This 1957 classic is so lively and upbeat, I love to have a good boogie to it as I'm putting up the decorations. A total classic, I couldn't imagine Christmas without it!


The Christmas Song, Nat King Cole

A lovely gentle song.  Jam packed full of nostalgia and festivity.  This used to be one of my favourites to sing in the school choir. To me this song is like a big festive wooly jumper.  Comforting and warm.



White Christmas, Bing Crosby

A true classic.  What else is there to add?



Fairytale of New York, the Pogues and Kirsty McColl

I have always loved this one, although I feel it has been somewhat overplayed in recent years.  There is quite simply no other Christmas song like it.  It is poignant, funny and bloody marvellous.  Still makes me smile.


The Little Saint Nick, The Beach Boys

Really cheery and upbeat, another Christmas tree boogie fest!  Plus it is by the Beach Boys, what's not to love?


I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, Wizzard 

Who wouldn't love this?  It's Roy Wood for goodness sake!  I remember listening to this as a small child and it brings back some great memories and feelings.  Makes me want to cover myself in face paint and glitter.


A Spaceman Came Travelling, Chris De Burgh

I remember this one vividly from my childhood.  I thought it was a terribly odd Christmas song. Very original though.  I do have a soft spot for this one still.



Home For Christmas - Roger Whittaker

This was on an old Christmas LP we had at our house.  Back when I was little it was part of my Christmas ritual and still is.  A lovely gentle, sentimental song.  Sometimes brings a tear to my eye.



Well, I think that is a long enough list.  My own Christmas playlist has 50 songs on it and if I'm sure if I'd shared them all you would probably want to rip out your own eyeballs with a sever case of Christmas overload.  There are plenty I've missed out here, so if you want to share some of your favourites feel free!





































































Saturday, 24 November 2012

Reaching out and letting go


This might be something you don't know about me, or maybe you do. Although I wouldn't exactly describe myself as shy, I do find it difficult to make friends.  I just never feel comfortable approaching new people.  I will happily talk to or be friends with someone who approaches me first. I just can't seem to gather the courage to approach others myself. It is silly really.
Although I do have a small circle of close friends, none of them have children. I do know other people with kids, but their kids are all so much older than Holly. Obviously they have different interests to pursue and different commitments to us. Which I can totally understand.

So you can probably imagine that after the birth of Holly I felt a little isolated, as I had no friends who could relate to me. Not depressingly so, but after a few months I did start to feel alone, isolated.  I started taking Holly to soft play, and other child friendly places in the hope that we could make some friends. That didn't work at all. No one spoke to me. I tried to engage other mums in conversation but after a brief chat they went on their way.  Never to be seen again. It seems yummy mummies can be fickle. Did I not fit the requirements of their perfect mummy club? Whatever the reason, lets just say it didn't exactly make me feel very confident.  What had I said or done (or not done) that made me unsuitable for their friendship?  After the many repeated knocks to my already fragile confidence I went back to the safety of my isolation.  I didn't want to feel like the outsider anymore.  So I removed myself from the situation.

Eventually though I realised that I couldn't carry on that way. Not so much for my sake, but for Holly's sake.  So I steeled myself.  Despite my lack of confidence I clenched my teeth, and I let go of my insecurities.  I put myself out there, I reached out and finally found someone who was just like me.

We found each other, we found confidence, some fun and ultimately freedom.  Almost a year after having Holly, I can honestly say for the first time I am starting to feel like me again.  Like I have an identity, like I have a life beyond my baby.  Don't get me wrong, Holly is my life.  The air that I breathe. I honestly cannot imagine life now without my amazing girl.  I still can't even contemplate leaving her overnight though (she'll be a year old in 3 weeks).  I just know that, at some point I have to relax, to let go.  By letting go of my fears and embracing opportunities, I hope I can teach Holly the confidence that for so long I have been lacking.

So if you feel like I did, take that chance. Put yourself out there. Yes you might feel rejection, or even judgement.  It is just a necessary evil.  Yet I found a true, genuine friend, so you can too. I would rather have that genuine friendship than a whole clique of yummy mummies combined.  Besides, if someone dismisses you so easily, what does that say about them? Is that really the type of person you want to be part of your life? I know I wouldn't.

So please remember mummies, if you see a lone mummy or daddy who looks like they might need a friend, give them a sporting chance.  You might have been in the same position yourself once upon a time...





Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Christmas Organisation Week 6 - Crafty Toddler Christmas Tree



So the other week we decided to go to ikea for a little bit of shopping.  I was thoroughly enjoying myself admiring all their new Christmas stock.  When suddenly amongst it all I spotted something which really got me excited.  Something for Christmas.  Something I thought would be a perfect idea for Holly at Christmas time when she got a little older.  This was it...


Cool huh?



That's right, it's a cardboard Christmas tree, with stickers!  So, at first I was thinking how amazing this was.  What a great idea. Give the kids their own tree to decorate in the vain hope it keeps them from destroying your real one.  Common sense and fun!  

As Holly will only just have turned 1 by Christmas I thought she might be a bit young for something like this just now. So I decided to get one of these trees for next year instead. I was just about to pick one up, when I noticed the price.  The tree was fifteen quid. That's right. Fifteen quid for a bit of coloured cardboard and some stickers. Now I'm sure some people wouldn't bat an eyelid and just buy the damned thing. Not me! There are far better things I could spend £15 on! Especially when you realise that once the stickers go on, that is it! The fun is done, you can't reuse it. Did I mention it was £15?  Needless to say, we came home without one. 
 
So that got me thinking.  Couldn't I just make something similar at home for half the price? Something which could be used over and over again? You bet I could!

So I have two possible ideas to craft a reusable kids Christmas tree.  Both are simple and I'm sure they could be used for years to come. I think if you made either of these for a toddler it would probably be easier to make it yourself, but if your kids are older they could help making these trees and have a great time doing it!  So does this sound like your type of thing? If so, then read on!


Idea One


Not bad eh?



A handmade cardboard tree. Get yourself a large piece of cardboard, cut it out into a Christmas tree shape and paint it green.  If you are really crafty you could cut two interlocking tree shapes and make a three dimensional one similar to the ikea one.  I think a flat one would be just as good though, as that means you can hang it on the wall easily.  Make some cardboard Christmas tree decorations to go on the tree. Cut whatever shapes you like.  Candy canes, stars, round and oval baubles, etc.  Paint or colour them in, add any decoration you want, glitter, sequins, you get the idea.  It can be as fancy as you and your kids want it to be.  Glue some velcro tabs onto the tree and the back of your baubles and you are all finished!  You and the kids can now have fun decorating the tree over and over again.  As you can see from the picture above I'm not the only person to have this idea.


Idea two 



How cool is this?


Pretty similar to the idea above, but using coloured fabric or felt instead of cardboard. You can make it as fancy or simple as you like. You could either cut out plain shapes for baubles or make some fancier ones by sewing or adding embellishments like glitter and sequins. It seems I'm not the first person to have this idea either, as I found a lovely example of one on Craftsy (pictured above).





So that is pretty much it!  Fairly simple if you ask me! What makes it even cooler is that as you will be using Velcro the kids can take off the baubles and stick them back on as often as they like. Day after day, or year after year if it is a big hit! As I said, Holly is just a bit too young to appreciate something like this just now, but rest assured we will be making one for next year!  Although, we might even make both!  So do you think this is a good Christmas craft idea?







Product Review - Remote Control Candles




So it seems winter is officially here. The dark nights have arrived and as I don't have an open fire in my house I feel the next best thing to make my house feel all festive and cosy is to burn a few candles.

However, since I have an 11 month old who has just started toddling I've been apprehensive about lighting candles.  Of course I always keep them well out of reach, but accidents can happen so I tend to only have my candles lit when baby goes to bed.  It seems I've found a solution though....


Cosy Candles...

These LED remote control candles from Paramount Zone are an ideal alternative to real candles.

These candles are flameless and and don't heat up at all so you don't need to worry about fire or burns.  They can be used just about anywhere, and as there is no real flame to be blown out by wind you can even use them outside if you want.

I love the fact that they work by remote control too.  Not only can you turn them on and off at the touch of a button, but you can adjust the brightness, choose whether you want them to flicker or not and there is even a timer function.  This means the candles will switch off automatically after 4 or 8 hours, which makes them a nice relaxing alternative to using a night light I think!

I was also very impressed by how realistic these candles are.  The candles have a real wax finish and flicker as real candles do, so unless someone spots your remote control they wouldn't be able to tell the difference between these and a real candle!  If you want to see these brilliant candles in action you can watch THIS VIDEO.

You get three candles in a set (for £12.99),  a small, medium and large candle.  This would make them ideal for a decorative centrepiece on your Christmas dinner table, and you don't have to worry about then burning out (glow time is advertised as 50000 hours) or spilling wax on your best table cloth!

I think these candles are superb.  They look realistic and have so many uses.  I also think they are great value too, I'm going to save a lot of money not having to replace burnt out candles!

I think these would make a great Christmas gift for any candle lovers like myself,  but if you are looking for some more great gift ideas there are some fantastic ones HERE.






Disclosure: This product was provided to me for review purposes.  All opinions expressed within this review are honest and my own.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Are you a dummy dummy?





I thought long and hard about writing this post. Someone said something on Facebook the other day, which although I know is silly, really got under my skin. This is the direct quote as taken from Facebook.

"People kept telling me to give ma girl a dummie when she was born and am glad i didnt cos the wee one has went 6 months without. All she needs is loads of cuddles n kisses from mummy n daddy xx love our little munky to the moon n back."

Quickly followed by,

"kids dnt need them,a little tlc and they are sound haha dnt know if its cos i have a gd baby haha but nah ill never give her dummie havent even thought bout it haha xx"

This was also followed by comments stating that parents who use dummies are useless and neglectful and only use them to shut their kids up.


Firstly I'd like to say well done to my friend on not giving into pressure and giving her baby a dummy. I genuinely mean that. I'm really glad she could manage without. That said, there is no need to make any one else feel shitty for using one. She managed, in the space of a couple of sentences to make me feel like the shittiest parent in the world.


My main issue is how totally judgemental she is being. Not all parents have the same experience as her. I gave my daughter a dummy, and it was certainly not to shut her up. Before I gave her it I had been totally against the idea. So if you don't agree with the use of dummies either please take a moment to read my story below.


Our Dummy Story


Before H was born we had decided that she would NEVER be given a dummy. Not our precious girl, not EVER.

Fast forward to a few weeks after H was born. Our sleepy, contented peaceful baby was gone. Cue week after week, night after night of my poor little girl screaming from early evening until the early hours of the morning until falling into an exhausted sleep. Then waking every 45 minutes unhappily to start the process over again. H was in such distress, this was not normal baby crying. Her face was twisted in agony and bright red. There was practically nothing I could do. We tried everything. No amount of TLC, cuddles or singing helped. She was breastfed on demand, rocked, bounced.  We pushed her in the pram, we took her out on the car, propped her up, massaged her, bathed her. She mostly slept on my chest and even that didn't help. We tried so many things I can't even remember them all to list them here. We asked the doctor and HV repeatedly for help, nothing they suggested helped either. The final piece of advice we were given was this....


Some babies are just like that. You'll have to be patient. She'll probably grow out of it in about 5 months or so.


Yup, that was eventually what we were told.


My partner and I were just devastated for H, to see H so clearly in pain or distress was heartbreaking.


I can honestly say it was probably the worst thing I have ever had to deal with in my life. I would have sold my soul to the Devil if that would have taken away my baby's distress. People kept suggesting trying a dummy, but I was so against the idea that I wouldn't hear of it. I was barely coping. The fact that there was nothing I could do to help my baby made me feel like the worst parent in the world. I would cry continually whenever H wasn't in my arms ( I wouldn't do it in front of her in case she sensed my distress, although she probably still did). I wouldn't admit defeat. I wouldn't even let family members take H to give me a break as I felt I would be failing her. (Stupid I know).


Eventually after months, my partner and I sat down and agreed that a dummy was the only thing we hadn't tried.  We thought we may as well try one, as it probably wouldn't work anyway. We would finally try using a dummy but we agreed we would only use it when H was distressed.


So what do you think happened? She took to the dummy straight away. She was still distressed at times, but it seemed to have a much more calming effect. Her bouts of uncontrollable crying we're halved almost immediately.


Had I known that from the outset I would have not had the slightest hesitation to give her the dummy. Anything which would alleviate my darling child's suffering for even one single second has to be worth it. If I had the choice again, I wouldn't hesitate.


So where do I stand on dummies now?


If H had been a happy contented baby, I would still never have given her a dummy. If I had another child who was contended I wouldn't offer a dummy either.


However, if I had another poor little baby like H, I would definitely consider it as an option if nothing else seemed to work. If it would alleviate the distress of my child absolutely. Who would want to watch their child suffer if there was something they could do to prevent it?

I bet you are wondering if H still has her dummy at 10 months? Yes she does. We kept to our word though and only used it when she was in distress. She does not get a dummy during the day (and never did) at all (unless distressed due to illness). She doesn't miss it at all. She is a happy, smiling little girl who likes to be vocal so why would she need it? She does still get her dummy at nap time and bedtime, which she sucks until she falls asleep then spits out, so for about 5 mins really. We are hoping to phase that out very soon too though.


I would certainly never give a dummy to shut my child up, and I am utterly offended by the implication that I would.


Where do I stand now on the dummy habits of others?

How you choose to raise your child is your business. I may not agree with it, but I don't know your situation so I have no right to judge. If you want to give your baby a dummy so what? There are far worse things you could be doing to your child. If you and your family are healthy and happy, that is surely all that matters.


So what is your view? Is a dummy a sign of bad parenting? Was I wrong to give a dummy to my baby? I'd love to know what you think.





Sunday, 11 November 2012

Christmas Organisation Week 7 - My Favourite Christmas films











So this post isn't going to be about organising.  I've got some more of that to share with you next time.  I felt this week we deserve a bit of a break for all our hard work so we are going to be a little self indulgent!

Now I know it is a bit early to start watching them, but I wanted to share with you my favourite Christmas films.  As Holly gets older she seems to be taking a bit more interest in the TV.  Not that I want to encourage too much TV watching of course. Still, it gets me thinking that soon she might be able to enjoy watching films with mummy and daddy.  The idea of snuggling with my family watching Christmas films fills me with excitement and joy!  So I've been thinking about Christmas films a lot lately because of this!  Now, not all the films on this list are maybe going to be appropriate for Holly yet (or for a long time), but these are my favourites and I hope when she is old enough they become Holly's too!




Gremlins


This film isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, but it has laughs and scares, cute kids and teens with more than a few nasty little monsters thrown in for good measure.  Despite the danger, I still wanted a Mogwai!




Scrooged


Bill Murray is hilarious in this film.  So funny but touching too. This film never fails to make me feel warm and fuzzy inside!  Look out for the fairy with the toaster though! 




Muppet Christmas Carol


Mock me all you want, but this film is probably my favourite adaptation of A Christmas Carol! Yes I know it's the muppets! It is well written and the casting of Michael Caine as Scrooge is great.  Some really brilliant festive songs thrown in too, I challenge you to watch it and not feel festive!




The Snowman


Beautiful, atmospheric and gut wrenchingly poignant.  If I let Holly watch this we might have to skip the ending for a few years!




It's a Wonderful Life


 Truly magical film.  Has me in tears every time. Christmas wouldn't be the same without it.




White Christmas


Amazing, festive and musical! So festive it's like being whacked in the kisser with a Christmas tree!  What else is there to say.




Santa Clause the Movie


Loved this film as a child and even had the accompanying book which I would look at for hours.  Loved how the elves used their beards as paint brushes!



Watership Down


 This film has been shown on TV every Christmas in my living memory.  Look through your TV channels and you are guaranteed to find it somewhere.  I don't think it is truly Christmas if this isn't on.  No matter how creepy/scary and downright sad this film is, I love it still.




Home Alone


I will always have a special place in my heart for this film.  So fun and festive.  Also, I always wanted to live in the McAllister's house. It looked amazing.  In fact, I think I would still like to live there!








There are so many more I could add to this list but it would go on until next Christmas!  So do any of these make your list? Or are there a few I have left out? Would love to know what your favourites are!



















Monday, 5 November 2012

Christmas Organisation week 8 - Homemade Mini Christmas Trees



Well hello there, are you feeling festive yet?  Well if not, don't worry.  It is a little early yet for all that!  If you are though, don't let me stop you busting out the festive cheer!  Either way, I hope you enjoy today's blog post!

This post is mainly about gathering your ideas.  I haven't made any decorations yet myself as I wanted to get my cards and gifts done first before I started on the fun stuff. In the next few weeks as we get closer to Christmas I will be doing posts on my decoration projects though, but at the moment I just wanted to give you something to get you started as the weeks are flying in and I don't want to give you ideas and no time to make them!  So enough of my prattling on, lets get started!

Today it is all about Christmas trees.  I've had a good gander at Pinterest and seen some great stuff.  I do love Pinterest, it is a great place to gather ideas.  I do have an account but I never seem to have the time to actually pin anything.  I generally just find the idea I want and I'm off!  Also, I can't afford another internet addiction. Twitter and Ebay take up enough of my time!  Anyway, below I'm going to share with you a few little gems of ideas I've found through Pinterest and general googling!  Links to the websites with instructions are all below if you are keen to start crafting!




Plain Paper Christmas Trees



Found this simple idea on About.com, with full instructions these are so pretty and all you need is some paper!  You could even use some patterned paper or add some glitter!



Cupcake Case Christmas Trees




This cute and crafty idea comes from The 36th Avenue where you'll find the full tutorial, and guess what? It is really easy!



Tissue Paper Christmas Trees




Check out these beauties from the fabulous Spunky Junky.  Another fabulously simple idea which needs minimum supplies.


Yarn Christmas Trees




Bright, colourful and ridiculously simple to make, what's not to love about these trees from I DO invitations by Michelle as featured with a full tutorial on Living Locurto.



Glitter Ribbon Trees 






Being the human equivalent of a magpie, I adore these glittery trees from Artsy-fartsy mamma.  Fabulously festive!



Glitter Cardstock Trees


 


More glitter here from Landee See, Landee Do.  Trees covered in beautiful glittery flowers.  You could even change the design and use star shapes instead, or any other shapes you like.  You could even use buttons instead of paper shapes!


Pearl/Bead Christmas Tree





Another favourite of mine is the bead tree as made by Gray Matters.  Use any colour string of beads you like or you could use individual beads or pearls and glue them on in any patter you like.






Hope you like the ideas I found.  The internet is certainly full of some very crafty and innovative people! 

Christmas organisation week 9 - Homemade gifts



 Firstly, sorry this post is a week late. Had a busy few weeks and I'm afraid I had to prioritise some other things. Still, better late than never I say! Now, this isn't going to be so much a how to guide, more a gift idea guide.  I will however link you to some lovely websites though that will show exactly how to make these lovely homemade gifts so don't worry! Below you will find a guide to homemade gifts, ranging from some very simple ideas to some that require a bit more time, and possibly skill to put together. Hopefully there is something for everyone!



Easy Peasy Gift ideas


Christmas mug

A personalised mug is a great cheap gift.  Buy some cheap plain mugs from a pound shop or supermarket and a sharpie pen and that is it!  Apparently all you need to do is:


  1. Use a Sharpie pen, draw a design of your choice on the mug.
  2. Place in the oven at 180 C/350 F for 30 minutes.
  3. Leave to cool completely before washing or using.

I haven't done this yet but I plan to try it over the weekend so will update this post then to let you know how it went.  I've been looking on Pinterest for design ideas for this project and found some great ones HERE if you fancy a wee peek! There are some great designs!  These mugs are good for supplementary gifts or for a teacher. You could get your child to draw or write something nice for their teacher on a mug. If you think the mug is too simple a present you could fill it with something. What about some homemade chocolate truffles, or christmas candy canes. Or a little hot chocolate package with some mini marshmallows?

Who says it even has to be a mug though! What about a bowl or plate?









Christmas baking

If you already bake for your family, or always get complimented on your baking by others then why not bake some gifts? Just make extra batches of any Christmas baking you usually do and package them in a jar with some ribbons or however else you'd like and you are done!  For those of you who want to try some baking and need some easy recipes look HERE.  There are some really nice festive recipes and most take an hour or under to prepare.  My personal favourites are the Baileys and white choc fudge, festive Jammie Dodgers and peppermint candy canes! Yummy!

If you are looking for glass jars to put your baking gifts in, most pound shops have then.  Or what about this  PRESERVE JAR from Wilkinson at only £1? Or this JAR from Ikea for 80p? You could always just recycle some old glass jars from the kitchen though! You can decorate the jars however you like, ribbons, bows, tinsel and homemade labels.  The more festive the better!







A Wee Bit More Effort Gift Ideas


DIY candles

There are a few ways you can do this.  You could use old wax from leftover candles or buy WAX PELLETS and colourings in a craft shop or online. You can even add scented oils if you like! Obviously reusing old candles will save you the most money though.  I used to be quite a proficient candle maker and I actually found it to be a very relaxing and enjoyable hobby.  If you have no idea how to make candles, HERE is a great guide to making candles. So simple to do, but make sure you allow yourself plenty of time!

As the guide says, you can make candles using moulds or you can simply make jar candles using any old candle jars you already have or buying new jars/containers.  Why not get creative and make a beautiful teacup candle?  You quite often find gorgeous individual teacups in charity shops for a few pounds.  I love candles, so I think candles make brilliant gifts!


So pretty!




Hand Painted jewellery/memory/keepsake box



This is a simple idea, what makes it more difficult can be your skill level in terms of painting, drawing etc.  You can buy a plain WOODEN BOX from craft shops, ebay or amazon quite cheaply. You can literally paint it using any design you like and you can personalise it with someone's name.  If you aren't good at painting you could decoupage it instead.  You can add sequins, jewels, buttons or bows if you like.  Here are some pics of finished boxes to inspire you!










Well that's all folks!  I could go on and add so many more gift ideas but this post is far too long already! If you still need more ideas why not check out Pinterest, it is always a great source of inspiration!  Hope you like some of these ideas and would love to know if you have any great ideas you'd like to share!

Want to check out the week 8 post?  It's all about making Christmas decorations, starting with some very sparkly Christmas trees!  You can check it out HERE!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Darkest Night












I peer outside, into the darkened world beyond my window. The ground sleek and black with rain. The street lamp glow illuminating pockets of driving rain. I raise my head and listen as the wind howls through the trees and rafters. I watch the trees twist and thrash against the gathering storm, almost as if they are trying without avail to keep it at bay. Yet still the storm gathers. The moon is bright in an inky sky. It gazes on, impassive to the nights proceedings. An ancient moon it carries the memory of a thousand storms that came before.

I shiver and pull the fabric closed. The menace firmly sealed outside these walls. The house creaks and groans under the weight of each blow. I begin the nightly ritual. I check each door, and one by one each light is extinguished leaving only howling noise and caressing darkness to keep me company as I slowly and carefully ascend each creaking stair.

In the dark, a new and unheard noise fills my ears and my heart fills with a cold icy dread. A strange, unearthly noise. A strained and strangled cry fills the air and I am frozen for a second. Quickly and driven by some long dormant, primitive instinct, I run. Along the hall, I reach the door at the end, the noise emanating in waves from the other side. Fear and dread stand shoulder to shoulder with me at the doorway. Holding my breath I open the door.

I look down, and in the dim light I can see the outline of her face. I lean closer and watch as the traces of a smile linger on the corner of her lips. A breath escapes from her, deep and relaxed as she dreams beneath her heavy lashes. She whimpers gently. She does not stir when I gently kiss her forehead, but again a gentle smile plays across her lips. A beautiful child lies sleeping safely in a blanket of her dreams. As calm, still and bright as the moon she shines a light into the darkness to guide me even in this, the darkest night. This storm too shall pass.
Thursday, 25 October 2012

Lies...





Somebody I know is lying. It started slowly with little white lies, here and there.

I gave the benefit of the doubt. Tried to take them at face value, but that is hard to do when someone has more than one face.

The claims have grown bigger though, over time. Things don't add up. They have started tripping over those little white lies.  They tripped and though they don't know it , I saw them fall.

Contradicting, forgetting where one lie ends and another begins. Still they don't stop. Just cover with bigger lies, until the white lies have changed colour and we are in an extremely grey area.

I am hurt by the lies. They are pointless and unnecessary. They are manipulating people's emotions. Although we are not the closest friends, I like liked this person. They seemed friendly, and kind.

Yet they lied in an attempt to gain affection and attention when there was no need. Though it seems the tide is turning. People are drawing away, perhaps sensing as I do, the deceit. Which only breeds more lies as the desperation grows.

I don't feel in a position to question, accuse or confront. I am conflicted. I am angry that this person doesn't trust me or the world enough to be themselves and know that is all they need to do to be liked.

 I am angry at whatever the world has done to this person to make them feel that lying is the only way they can be accepted.

I am scared for them, as I don't want anyone to be hurt when their house of lies comes tumbling down.

I want to talk to them, but I know if I did we would never speak again. Our relationship would be irreparably damaged. Yet maybe it is already. I cannot believe a single word any more, though I try.

So do I simply stand by and watch as this person hurtles towards the inevitable and they are found out? It feels almost cruel, but didn't they bring it on themselves?

What would you do in my position?
Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Christmas Organisation week 10 - Shopping for Gifts




Did you see last years Littlewoods Christmas advert? It actually made me FURIOUS! Suggesting you buy an uncle an HTC mobile phone? I'm sorry but I wouldn't be spending upwards of £100 on uncle whatever his name is?  Especially when it is likely I'll get someone crap in return!  I know, I know.  It is better to give than to receive and all that.  It doesn't mean I have to bankrupt myself in the process though does it?  I feel that for a lot of people Christmas has become ridiculously and needlessly expensive because of retail advertising. It is perfectly easy to keep Christmas affordable and still give lovely gifts. So I'm going to tell you how I do it.  Just so you know, there will be no secret trick showing you how to buy hugely expensive gifts on the cheap.  This is about being sensible, working within a budget and giving lovely gifts that won't have your wallet and you groaning under the strain!  So read on...



Do Not Feel Pressured



This is far too much...

First of all, no matter what adverts the companies trot out at Christmas touting extravagant gifts do not let yourself be drawn into it.  The fact is, most people you know are skint this year and even if you aren't it doesn't mean people should EVER expect expensive gifts.  No one should judge you for the gifts give and you should never feel upset or embarrassed by the gifts you give just because they don't cost a lot.  A person who would judge you, or is ungrateful probably doesn't deserve a gift at all! If you feel the need to, let people know that you are scaling Christmas back this year.  This will help with people that have "high expectations" about gifts.


Concentrate on kids

Look at their smiling faces!


Christmas is really for kids isn't it?  I know the best gift I will get this Christmas is seeing Holly opening and enjoying her gifts.  I am personally quite happy not to get gifts from others as long as Holly does, so if people have kids I tend to buy for their kids only.  Similarly my partner and I only buy each other small pressies as our main focus is Holly.  If you do feel the need to give other parents a gift I would give something  homemade (we'll touch on that later), or something like chocolates or wine.



Spreading the Cost and setting a budget 




Start saving!



 I think it is safe to say that no one wants to be feeling the pinch over the winter months. Your energy bills are higher, so adding the cost of gifts, cards, food etc isn't going to leave you with a very healthy bank balance. There are many ways to spread the cost of Christmas. I do not recommend putting your purchases on credit cards, store cards or catalogue shopping.  Chances are you'll be finished paying it all off just in time for next year.  I recommend first of all setting a budget. You would be surprised how many people don't do this, and have no idea how much they have spent until the bank statement or credit card bill gives them a shock! First, write a list of everyone you will be giving gifts to. You know their likes and dislikes so write down what type of gift you plan to get them and the maximum you want to spend.  Total up your entire list and you have your budget!  Pretty simple?! Choose how much money you want to save each week until you reach your target.  It is that easy. The earlier in the year you do this, the less you will have to save each week as you'll have more time to save up.

If you can't save up, and some people really do struggle with saving (maybe there is a gene the scientists haven't isolated yet), there is another way to spread the cost. All you need to remember is, it is never too early to start your Christmas shopping! I start in the January sales every year.  Using your budget list, carry it with you at all times. Have christmas in the back of your mind all year long.  Every time you plan to go shopping, especially when you see Sales are on, look for potential gifts!  This will get you better gifts at half the expense! I also recommend using websites like Buyapowa and groupon to get good deals too. By the time it gets to Christmas you should be at least close to ticking off all the names on your list! I would say that I have usually finished my shopping by the end of October (at the very latest) every year.  This means that by the time Dec rolls around I am organised, stress free and have a healthy bank balance too.  What's not to love about that?

Lastly, don't forget your loyalty cards! You are spending your hard earned pennies, so if you can get something in return then do it! Also, I suggest you get a Nectar card (if you haven't already). Many retailers now give nectar points. For the full A to Z list of retailers click HERE. You'll be surprised how many are on there!




Homemade/Handmade Gifts



 

Yummy and oh so cute!


The cheapest and I think nicest gifts you can give are things you've made yourself.  They show effort and thoughtfulness in a way that shop bought gifts don't.  Handmade gifts can be as simple or as difficult as you want them to be. How much time and effort you want to put into these might be entirely dependant on how crafty you are and who you plan to give them to! As a rule of thumb, simple handmade gifts are fine for teachers, neighbours and fellow parents.  Make a few batches of biscuits or cookies and pop them in a nicely decorated jar.  To be honest, any baked goods you can make usually go down a treat! It can be that simple if you want it to be. Save the more time consuming and complicated makes for close friends and family.  I won't write much more about handmade gifts here as I plan to make it the subject of my next post. So look out for my HOMEMADE GIFT IDEAS post next week.



There is possibly more I could say about the topic of Christmas shopping but I think I've rambled on enough.  So what about you?  Do you find any of my advice useful or do you already do these things yourself?  Maybe you have a few tips of your own you'd like to share?  Go on then, you know where the comments box is! 




Give your piggy bank a Happy Christmas!





Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Christmas organisation week 11 - Christmas cards


Where do I start?  As you know, writing and sending Christmas cards can be a bit of a faff! However I have some suggestions to give you about Christmas cards which might be helpful to you.  You might already do these things, but if not I hope they help!



Have a card cull




We all have bulging address books full of friends, relatives, work collegues and acquaintances.  Chances are you send Christmas cards to most of them if not all. We all know someone who still sends cards to someone they met once on holiday about 20 years ago or some long lost auntie's brother's cousin's parrot! They usually don't even get one back!  Sending cards to so many will not only give you a sore hand, but with the price of stamps it will put a dent in your pocket too.  Do yourself a favour, go through your address book and make a list of those people you absolutely MUST send cards to, forget everyone else.  Be ruthless, and don't worry about offending anyone, it is only a Christmas card!  Besides, if you read on I'm going to give you some possibly cheaper alternatives to sending cards for those people who don't survive the card cull! Before I carried out my own cull I had about 40 cards to send.  I have now cut that by more than half


How to buy quality cards cheaply/save money on cards





We are a bit late to be using this tip, but it will come in handy for next year at least.  Do you go to the January sales? If you do just pop into a shop that sells cards and viola!  Chances are you can get their best/luxury cards at least half price.  If you are willing to wait it out until the very end of the sales you can even get 75% off!  I do it every year and I am always complemented on the lovely cards I send!  In addition, should I have any left over cards I put them in a box with previous years unused cards.  That way I always have spares and once I accumulate enough it means I don't have to buy cards the following year!  You'd be surprised how many people I know throw away cards they haven't used because they don't want to use old cards next year! MADNESS!!  If you know others like this don't be proud, offer to take their old cards and you can use them!  Why not swap your left over cards with another thrifty friend if you don't want your old ones?



Christmas card alternatives






There really are about a million alternatives.  Here are just a few. For those who don't make the Christmas card list why not send an email?  I don't just mean a bog standard email though...

  • Why not make a Christmas catch-up newletter to send out?  You can include some festive pics, family pics and tell them about what you and the family have been getting up to.  Make a standard one and you can personalise it slightly to suit who you are sending it to  if you can be bothered.  This will save you a stamp and also seem like you've spent a lot of time on it when in fact you can knock one up in a very short space of time!  
  • Why not make your own e-card to send out? Have your kids draw some Christmas cards which you can scan into the computer or use your own festive images then edit it into an e-card by adding some text?  Not only cute but very personal.  You could even do a video message if that suits you better!  Get force your kids to dress up and make them say or sing something festive! BOOM! You're done!
  •  No newsletter or e-cards. Just email everyone and let them know that instead of sending cards you are donating to charity.  Not many people can argue with that! 
  • Do not send cards to everyone at work.  If you feel you have to, put one card in the staff room addressed to everyone. 

Save money on stamps






When you do get around to buying your Christmas cards, size is important!  For the love of God do not buy large cards if you plan on posting them, unless you are happy to pay a small fortune!  Only buy them for those who you plan to hand deliver to!  Imagine if you had large cards for say 50 people, it would cost you £45 to post them 1st class and £34.50 for 2nd class*!

In addition, it  absolutely pays to write your cards early.  I've already written mine and this means I'll be able to post them early enough to use only 2nd class stamps.  It isn't a chore to write them early, and you don't even have to do it in one go. Have them handy in an easily accessible place and any time you have a spare 5 minutes write some.  Even if it is just a couple, you'd be surprised how quickly you'll be done.  Please don't send them late as chances are they still won't arrive on time, even if you have spent extra on 1st class.  I can't tell you the amount of cards I get arriving after Christmas, all with a 1st class stamp on.  I'm sorry but if my decorations are already down it is probably going straight into the recycling!  So essentially you have just thrown money in the bin!

Lastly, did you know that you can easily buy discounted stamps online?  Click here for just one of the websites I found!  The discounts may not seem huge, but every penny counts!


The most radical solution







Don't send ANY cards at all.  Not a single one. No alternatives either. If you are happy to do this you can save yourself a lot of time and money!  Not many people are brave enough to do it, are you?



Well that is it!  It is mostly all common sense, and I'm sure a lot of you already do these things but hopefully I've suggested something here you haven't thought of!  If you haven't already you can learn more about my week by week Christmas organisation plans HERE!



Next weeks topic: Christmas shopping - when, where, how?




*stamp prices taken from the Royal mail website
 

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