What Are The Advantages Of A Do It Yourself Christmas?*

Opting to have a Christmas that you have made entirely yourself can seem like a very daunting thing to do. There’s a lot of time and effort spent on doing this, which is of course brilliant if you have the time to spend doing so, but for some people this may not seem possible. If this is possible for you though, there are some pretty big advantages of a do it yourself Christmas.
A do it yourself Christmas means that you can choose what goes into everything you make. If you’re conscious about your health, you can use vegetable oil to roast your vegetables instead of buying ones that are ready to roast and covered in fat. Making your entire Christmas dinner from scratch yourself basically means that you’re more aware of what’s going into everything and can show you ways that you can still be healthy even though it’s Christmas.
Get’s everyone involved
This is a great thing to do if you have children; it lets them help with the preparation of the meal, stopping them moaning that they are bored and also meaning that they are more likely to eat the food if they’ve helped to prepare it. It shows them that you can still be healthy at Christmas and that you can make things from scratch and don’t have to just buy food.
Saves money
This method of Christmas can save you money which is obviously a massive bonus. While it requires a little more time than buying everything ready done, the preparation that would need to be done isn’t particularly hard and it is worth it to save money. There is no reason that Christmas should break the bank.
Can have whatever you want
Some things are harder to buy at Christmas, for example it may be harder to buy things such as crumbles that are ready made as space has been cleared for Christmas items. If you make your own Christmas puddings from scratch, you can then have whatever pudding you want, even if you can’t find it in the supermarket. It is easy to find recipes for example how to make rhubarb crumble online and you can alter these to suit your personal tastes.
There is nothing better than the feeling of making your own Christmas dinner from scratch, everyone can pitch in, and Christmas is a time for family!

*Christmas and Alcohol: Everything You Need to Know

Christmas and alcohol really do go hand in hand. With rich food and heart meals, nothing will compliment your Christmas dinner better than a high quality wine. Whatever vintage or colour of grape you want  in your glass, you can get it all within your strict festive budget thanks to affordable, high quality wines.
Giving alcohol as a Christmas present is a really good idea if you don’t know what to get someone. Everyone enjoys a drink and you can show how much you care by buying them something which is known for its great taste.
If you’re planning on giving alcohol as a present, make sure that you look around to ensure that you make the most of any offers that are on and get your presents at the best price possible. Numerous supermarkets and retailers offer discounted rates on top quality wines so you don’t have to settle for cheap or inferior brands which do not convey the spirit of Christmas.
Remember to invest in suitable wrapping – such as a gift bag or box – and decorate lavishly for a real festive finish.
Of course, you don’t just put wine and alcohols on the dinner table – they’re also likely to end up in the cooking process somewhere along the way. Looking at boozy ideas from live well for less at Sainsbury’s means you can get the well known and well loved boozy foods such as Christmas cake and Christmas pudding without too much damage to the bank balance and all whilst using the highest quality ingredients.
Drinks with dinner
The traditional option, Christmas dinner wouldn’t be the same without a festive toast. Wine is naturally the first choice when it comes to choosing your tipple but it is important that you match the variety to the food. Some people even like to select different wines for each course of the meal, opting for something light to accompany the starter before moving onto a richer option for the main course and a refreshing dessert wine to compliment the pudding.
Whatever you choose, looking around to ensure you get the best deals on the alcohol you buy is essential. No matter what you do with it, when buying alcohol you should always opt for quality and plenty of seasonal deals at supermarkets mean doing so doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. 

Last Minute Gift Shopping*

Christmas is the time for cheers, good food and most importantly presents (my kids would agree on that last one). However, some of us still haven’t quite figured out what to get our loved one this Christmas season and with so little time to spare; I think I need to lend a helping hand where I can.

Toddlers or Babies?
I’m sure this has already been taken care of, because what more do kids appreciate more than toys? If your child hasn’t adopted a Moshi Monster yet, then ‘tis the season to get adopting, or you could get them a few Moshi Monster toys for their overflowing toy collection.

For Mum
Instead of the odd home ware, why not get her something that is truly just for her enjoyment alone? A great gift idea would be the gift of time off, so she can finally enjoy some well-deserved “me time” after all the hustle and bustle of Christmas. You could get her a gift-certificate to a local spa; or even more grandiose, add up with a few family members and get her a night at a hotel that provides such a service.

For Dad
You don’t have to complicate gift shopping for dad here; men are simple creatures, and they will appreciate most presents. It could be anything from the latest apple gadget (if he is techie), to some nice pair of underwear or thermals from Figleaves.

Consider what they may already own here and just get them an add-on that they have been saving up for, but haven’t gotten around to buying yet. For example, if he owns a game console, then it might be easier to simply get the newest game for that console or if he is a rabid movie fan, then check out Amazon for their new releases. They are pretty quick to deliver, even this far along. Alternatively, if he is past the whole gaming phase or never quite got into it in the first place, then consider getting him something like the Jean Paul Gaultier set of cologne and aftershave. Trust me, he’ll love the smell – it’s a classic.

Women, whether in their early teens, late teens or adolescence, are not that hard to buy for. Essentially because most items these days are made for women – so you are bound to find something they’ll like. Why not get them the new Urban Decay Eyeshadow Palette if they are into beauty and fashion?
Remember, girls can be techie’s too and all personalities vary; so there is no point in getting the recipient something that doesn’t appeal to their personality.

Research, research, research…though, I wonder if you still have time?

You Look Beautiful……

During pregnancy and the months that follow, there are a lot of stresses that life has to throw at you and although a lot of the time you can feel lethargic and drained, there is no reason why you shouldn’t look your best, especially now that Christmas is here. 

It is typical for people to mention your glowing complexion when you are pregnant and this is not simply a saying or an old wives tale, your complexion does tend to improve when you are pregnant and that’s not the only thing that gets better during this period.

Your hair tends to grow thicker and glossier and your skin is stronger and less prone to outbreak, not to mention all of your new found sexy baby lumps. If you want to feel like the best possible version of yourself, don’t let the bad parts bring you down. Make the most of this interesting time of your life, you will feel an overwhelming sense of triumph and pride.

During your time of pregnancy and especially, the few months after the baby arrives, all of your time, money an effort tend to go on the baby. Mothers tend to let a lot of things they would normally consider quite important, fall by the wayside.

Being pregnant or having a child in your life should not mean you cannot express your own fashionable side, nor does it mean you have lost the right to dress up for special occasions. For the pregnant lady or even those post birth there are some really glamorous stores such as Tiffany Rose that allow you to really celebrate a special occasion in style instead of feeling like the proverbial wall flower. They have maternity occasion wear to suit every figure; whether it is the stylish maternity maxi dresses perfect for concealing post pregnancy bodies or their occasion dresses.

Your Chance to WIN a Brand New Kindle Fire HD with SSE!

Christmas is so very close, you can almost smell the turkey roasting in the oven.
Personally, once the dinner is cooked, I’ll relax- however, using my Tablet makes the job a little easier, recipes wise, as I can have a handheld device to refer to (and have sneaky book and magazine reading time too!) rather than lugging a big heavy book around the kitchen.
Tablets, like the Kindle Fire HD are brilliant, but at this time of year can be an added expense that you can’t justify.
Fear not!
If you, or a loved one has a Kindle Fire HD at the very top of their wish list this year, then Scottish and Southern Electric’s Your SSE facbook page has just the competition you need!
SSE wants to say a big thank you to all it’s Facebook fans and customers by giving away a luxury item which is sure to keep the whole family happy.
Until 18th December, Facebook users who like their helpful page can play their Christmas Elf competition. It’s free to enter (and don’t worry if you aren’t currently a liker as new members can enter too) and great fun!
I tried the game out myself, along with some help from the Brats, both of whom found it very funny and very easy (not to mention exciting to help Mummy). The idea behind the game is to help SSE’s elves generate enough energy to power the battery of a Kindle Fire HD tablet in a variety of fun ways. Can you make the first elf run enough to light the torch? Can you make the last elf jump on the belly of another?
Want to see how easy it is and have the chance to win a great addition to any home?
Then go enter now!
Good luck everyone!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas*

Now that the Christmas lights are up across the UK and the sound of those chiming bells gets ever louder, the festive period is well and truly on its way! 
The average mum is thought to spend 288 hours shopping, 4.19 hours wrapping presents and 3.03 hours decorating the house ahead of Xmas, which fully illustrates the work and the cost that you have ahead of you, whether you are a parent or not.

Though many of you will have decorations stored away, some of you will be much less organised. There are many ways to decorate your house to look great and to do so cheaply.
You can buy fairy lights for as little as £6.99.  If you are really short of cash – you can hang fairy lights to a sturdy metal frame for an elegant and inexpensive outdoor tree effect, and real Christmas trees can be picked up for as little as £20.
There are many appropriately Winter-themed decorations that you can buy such as icicle lights, baubles, as well as charming non-essential additions like “Big Decs Owl Decoration”, which can be found at department stores across the country for around £15.
Essential Christmas food involves turkey and the obligatory parsnips and roast potatoes, the preparation for which most of you will be versed in.
Obviously, you should never consider preparing all of your Christmas meal a month in advance for health reasons, but things like Christmas cake can be prepared now and will save you a lot of hassle in the coming weeks.
You should consider drawing up your Christmas menu now to help organise and speed up the process just prior to the big day.
Most important of all, many would argue, are the presents.
There are a great number of video games, DVDs and Blu-rays released just in time for the Christmas season, which can be bought at little cost, especially if you buy online – Amazon will even wrap the presents and have them sent directly to the intended recipient if you do not have much time on your hands.

Nativity Play Nightmares Part 3: After the Play

My last post was an update on the role given to Mini in her nativity, and how she hated the costume and the part. Well, yesterday, we finally got to see the costume and the whole play.

To be fair to Mini, who may or may not read this post when she is older, the part wasn’t one of the better ones. I had assumed it was a speaking role, but it was just singing a song at the back whilst the rest of the year group sang along too.  Before anyone moans, yes I know they want to build up other kids confidence, but with that said the main part was acted by a very confident child, as were all of the other main parts too.

Anyway, never let it be said that Mini doesn’t know how to build her own part (ahem).

I ended up seeing the play both on Tuesday morning and yesterday evening as well. That worked out well as I committed the cardinal parenting fail of missing filming her bit. In my defence, I was told she was speaking her role, not singing it with everyone else. So, I thought the song was the lead up to her bit. And couldn’t get it on tape in time. 

She did really well, and did a little dance, and sat quietly. It was lovely.

So, onto yesterday evening, and after a day spent having fun at Panasonic for the next Intelligent Living Mums workshop (more on that to follow), I got in, made some dinner for the Brats, had a cuppa and it was back to school.

I managed to bagsie with the help of some of the class Mums a front row seat- we could barely see on Tuesday as the hall was packed- and, camera poised, I started to film.

I think the combination of it being 6pm, on a school night, right near Christmas, the second time they’d acted it, and the actors being a bunch of hyper 5 and 6 year olds made for a rather rowdy and hilarious play…..

….Especially Mini and her fellow stars

I think her costume was lovely- it turned out that the reason Mini thought it was “epically crap” was because her costume didn’t light up with fairy lights (only the main characters did as they were playing the Star Of Bethlehem). The only issue I saw though was the head dress was a bit itchy with tinsel.

By the end (it was 40 minutes long), the kids were either yawning with tiredness after a busy school day, or being slightly mischievous. You had the Three Wise Men playing catch with their gifts, the narrators giggling amongst themselves, funny faces being pulled at parents, and Mini and her mates taking their head dresses off and using them as blindfolds or wearing them upside down.

But, what did Mini do to build her part?

I asked her teacher if they were meant to dance or do actions after the morning performance and was told, no, but she thought Mini’s moves (as her Dad has now called them) were sweet and not too OTT. In which case I can only presume that she encouraged Mini to do them again. I can then only presume that Mini thought she should perhaps improve on them. A lot.

She had the audience in hysterics, with parent’s coming over to me to laugh and say how much they’d enjoyed it!

I wont just type about them, here, for your viewing hilarity, is Mini, building her part spectacularly.

And yes, I will be showing this at her 18th birthday party. Sorry Mini!