Thursday, 28 November 2013

Homemade Christmas Gifts Your Child Can Make

Christmas crafts make excellent gifts for your family that they can keep as souvenirs for years to come. Shop-bought gifts are increasingly expensive, less personal and less "last year"! However, Galt Toys have some exciting ideas that your child can make and do to give as gifts this year.

Photo Christmas Cards

Cheap and cheerful, these photo cards can be used as decorations for every year and make an excellent recurring gift.

You will need:

One 5”x7” glass-only photo frame
One 4”x6” photograph of your child or your family dressed in Christmas best
A pad of coloured paper
Coloured pens

Carefully place the glass from the photo frame and ask an adult to hold it in place while you draw around it onto your coloured paper. Red or green is best, but you can use any colour. Using your safety scissors (available from Galt Toys), cut out your rectangle. Take your chosen photograph and apply glue to the back before mounting it onto the rectangle of coloured paper. In the border around your photograph, pop a dab of glue in each corner and sprinkle glitter over it. Next, use your coloured pens or pencils to write a message in the border, such as Merry Christmas, Love From (your name).” Let the glue dry, then pop your creation into the frame. Now it is ready to be given as a gift.

Santa Christmas Hamper

You will need:

A pad of coloured craft paper
One shoebox
Cotton wool balls
Black paint and paintbrushes
A ruler

You will first need to wrap your shoebox in red paper. An adult can help you. This will give you a blank canvas to decorate!  Next, use black paint to paint a black belt around the middle of the bottom part of the shoebox (not the lid). Once dry, use your glue to create a buckle shape, and sprinkle glitter over. Leave to dry. Glue your cotton wool balls around the edge of the shoebox lid to create a fluffy trim. For the final touch, cut a 10cm by 10cm square of coloured paper (any colour you like) and an 8cm by 8cm square of white paper. Stick the white square in the middle of the coloured square, and glue both to the lid of your shoe box to make a message box. You can write the name of the person the gift is for, or just a little message.

Christmas Cookery

Hand decorated cookies or cupcakes make lovely gifts from little people! There are many recipes online that you can follow to make a delicious treat. Children can decorate these, wrap them in cellophane (not cling film, think rigid ‘gift-hamper’-type cellophane), and make their own gift tags using craft paper, pens and glitter if desired. Why not make miniature gingerbread houses for everyone?
No matter what the end result, with all craft gifts the importance is the love that went into making it, not about the gift being perfect. Perfection comes in many forms. Enjoy!

About the Author

This article was written on behalf of Galt Toys who have 175 years’ experience in toys and education. Galt know a thing or two about designing toys & craft activities to encourage children to learn through play...and also have fun!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Asda Extra Special Old Vine Garnacha - Review

Last Saturday, the lovely people at Asda were kind enough to send me a case of their new Extra Special wines for review.  When the case arrived I was pleased to see a good variety of wines and I was keen to get stuck right in and try one of the bottles with our evening meal that night. Our menu consisted of Fillet steak so I was sure it would be well complimented by the Extra Special Old Vine Garnacha.

My first impression on opening the bottle was the robust aroma. It was by no means overpowering, but pleasant and rich.  Once poured, this wine had a very deep colour, almost inky with a hue of purple against the light. I couldn't wait to have a taste and see what it had to offer.

There are an abundance of fruit flavours bustling through this wine. To my palate blackberry, cherry and even a hint of plum made this a much more full bodied wine than I was expecting. All in all I found this a very distinctive wine. It complemented our meal beautifully, lending itself well to the chargrilled and peppery flavours of our fillet steak. I would most definitely recommend this wine be served with food. A good piece of red meat or a hearty beef casserole would be an ideal companion for this gutsy red wine.

The Extra Special Old Vine Garnacha is currently on rollback at Asda, making it an absolute bargain at just £5 (usually £8.25).
Friday, 15 November 2013

Am I Less of a Parent?

At the moment Holly is an only child. So most people I meet feel the immediate need to ask when she might expect a younger sibling.

I'm often met with a look of shock, surprise or even pity when I say we are happy as a family of three and that although it isn't a definitive no, I have no actual plans to have more children.

Before having Holly we had always said we would have two children. Yet when Holly came along she completed our family in a way I hadn't expected at all. Unfortunately not everyone understands this.

Apparently it isn't fair on Holly. She'll be lonely and unhappy.

I'm selfish as I could easily have another child and provide for them.

If  I concentrate all my energies on Holly, I might end up putting too much pressure on her as she grows older.

I'm obviously just not maternal at all, otherwise I'd never be able to JUST have one child.

I've got it easy. I have no idea what parenting is really like or how hard it is because I only have one child.

I've heard them all, and more.
I'm tired of justifying and defending my choice. More than that I'm upset that I'm judged as some second class parent because I don't have multiple children. I'm sure if  I had another child it would be wonderful, but I don't need to in order to feel complete. I already do.  Also, I'm in absolutely no doubt that having more children would be harder. I often wonder how people do it, and I'm genuinely in awe of people that do it every day. However, that doesn't give anyone the right to sneer at me for not doing it. To tell me I'm not maternal or I'm less of a parent, less of a mum. I live and breath my daughter. I would die for my child just as other parents would for theirs.  I get that some people simply can't understand this choice, but I don't get why it should be of any concern to anyone other than me. I have a happy family who I love with all my heart and soul, a family I would kill for, a family which to me is absolutely perfect, just as it is. I just wish people would stop insulting me because I don't fit their standards.
Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Review - Dreambaby Chelsea Swing Closed Safety Gate

It's safe to say that Holly is a very active toddler. Having taking her first steps at just 9 months to being a fully confident walker who would happily attempt walking upstairs at 10 months I am sure you can imagine that now she is 22 months she is into everything in the house. I literally cannot turn my back for a second!  She climbs anything and everything and has recently learned to jump from high objects too! It's definitely a scary time.

As you can imagine we have quite a lot of safety equipment in our house to keep Holly as safe as possibly. Up until now though we have only had one baby gate, which is fitted at the top of our stairs.   We never really needed a gate at the bottom of the stairs as we were simply able to keep the kitchen and lounge doors closed in order to keep Holly away from that area. However, due to a recent grotwth spurt Holly is now tall enough to finally reach the door handles (she has been trying to reach them for a long time) and can easily open all the doors now! So although Holly is easily able to use the stairs now I still don't feel it will be safe to let her near the stairs unattended! We really needed to find good gate for the bottom of the stairway as soon as possible.

I was therefore delighted when Tesco Compare home insurance offered me the opportunity to review a new baby gate!

The gate I received was the Dreambaby Chelsea Swing Closed Safety Gate.  I had already seen this product when browsing online for safety gates before and had really liked the features and design of this gate. Some of the features I liked best about the gate were:

  • Pressure mounted. This made it very easy to put up (& to take down when the time comes). Also no drilling into my walls or woodwork! So no mess!
  • 2 way opening and swing shut mechanism. This means you don't have to worry about forgetting to close the gate. It will close automatically once you have stepped through.
  • It has a double locking mechanism (at the top and bottom) so it is very secure!
  • Easy one handed opening for adults.

I will admit at first that I was unsure if a pressure fit gate would be sturdy enough. However I can say that once it was in place I can safely say it was extremely secure and just as secure as our other gate which is screw mounted to the walls. Also, fitting was extremely quick and the instructions were really easy to follow. My partner was the one who fitted the gate and he managed it in about 20 mins. He is not good with his hands at all, or good at following instructions either (I usually do ALL of our DIY). So I'd say the gate is pretty much foolproof!

Once the gate was in place we tried opening and closing the gate. I wanted to see how easy it was to open one handed. I have tried other gates that were impossible to open one handed so Again Imwas doubtful! I slid the button on top of the gate with my thumb, then lifted the gate slightly (the second locking mechanism) and pulled the gate towards me. It opened easily. It wasnt difficult at all. I tried opening it in the other direction too. It opened just as easily. In addition to this, the gate automatically closed behind me each time. I have to say, I was impressed.

I don't often gush about products but I would like to say this is a fantastic safety gate. It is easy and quick to fit (or remove). It's easy to open one handed for adults, but the double locking mechanism makes it extremely secure to keep exploring babies and toddlers out of harms way.

I would definitely recommend this gate to any parent.


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