A Mothers Ramblings: December 2014

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Family Savings And A Promise Of A Night Out

If there is one thing that the children could teach me to be better at, it is saving money. From where I am currently sitting on the sofa, I can see Big Boy's Milkman's wallet. I don't need to get up to tell you how much is in it because Big Boy is sitting next to me and he can tell me that he has exactly £25 of pocket moneys savings, after having spent £30 of his savings in the Boxing Day Sale. He also has £25 that he got for Christmas that he put in his money box and I mustn't forget that I owe him £2 because he lent me £10 and I've only paid back £8 so far... Top Ender is just the same. Her money is kept hidden away and neither Daddy or I are quite sure how much she has, apart from when we have in the past asked to borrow some cash because we couldn't get to a cashpoint and we've needed a few quid to pay for a School trip or similar!

BB's Milkman Wallet

Friday, 26 December 2014

Gü Hot Chocolate and Edible Cups

Occasionally, Daddy will announce we have no food in the house and that he is heading off to the Supermarket to buy some. What this really means is that we have nothing he wants to eat in the house and he is off to buy some indulgent chocolate or similar type desserts. Then Daddy asks me, if there is anything I want and I always answer a Gü Hot Chocolate Melting Middle Pudding please. And then when he gets back I take my time eating what has to be the most glorious pudding of all time.

Sigh.

Sorry. I was thinking about puddings. Anyway. Gü asked if I'd like to take part in a little creative experiment in the kitchen and create some edible cups to enjoy their new Hot Chocolate in. So I said No. Only joking, Gü Hot Chocolate in edible cups? It's like a dream come true, or a real Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moment.

The problem came with trying to decide what kind of cups to make.

My first thought was to involve the children, so as we walked around a supermarket doing some last minute shopping for dinner we talked about what we could make edible cups out of. Various ideas were batted about, and the idea of a bacon and chocolate cup has been stored for another time, as I bet it would be lush.

Top Ender thought a cheesecake base like cup would be best, as long as it was made out of cookies.

Big Boy thought that a pancake cup would be best, but baked like Yorkshire puddings.

And I thought that a cup of pastry, preferably puff would work well.

So with a voucher sent by Gü, we went shopping for the things we would need.

My pancake/yorkshire puddings didn't work. All I ended up with was disks of pancake that were rubbery.

Rubbery pancake cups

The Cookie cheesecake mix crumbled as soon as it was taken out of the muffin tin it had been sitting in to set.

Crumbly Cookie Cups

The only thing that worked was the puff pastry cups, but they were just to small, unless you just wanted a shot of Hot Chocolate. There was only one thing for it. I put the cup in a bowl, poured a suitable sized portion of Hot Chocolate over it and drank/ate it in front of the Christmas tree.

Hot Chocolate in front of the Christmas Tree - Can you see me in this picture?

I knew that I had to do better. The cup worked brilliantly, apart from the size, so I created a monster sized cup that would be perfect for drinking Hot Chocolate out of and for eating afterwards.


IT'S ALL MINE! To make this cup, I simply moulded it around the inside of one of my pyrex bowls and cooked it in the oven until it was solid. I'm going to have to make them again.

The moral of this story, (If there ever was one), is that Hot Chocolate should be plentiful and it doesn't matter what you drink it out of as long as you do drink it!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Asda Christmas Treats

Whilst I was languishing in bed with the horrid bug that came upon my house last week, a delivery came for me. I was rather excited, until Daddy told me it was food from Asda. The mere thought of food had me back in bed watching Christmas movies and sipping on ice water (thank you lovely fridge freezer) thanking my lucky stars that I had a caring husband who would occasionally refill my water and top up my ice and generally check I wasn't on his side of the bed and spreading my germs any more than I had to. Daddy has been well taught however and knew that all deliveries to this house must be photographed before being put away, because there will more than likely be a blog post or at the very least an instagram update and so he took some pictures and emailed them to me. Which I could just about handle...













You do have to admit it looks good right?

The problem was that with the foods needing to be eaten and the children, Daddy and I all staying on the BRAT diet until we were sure the bug had passed we didn't know what to do with all the food that had been sent. I didn't think about it because, well I felt terrible! Luckily again, Daddy has been well trained and so when I finally made it back downstairs and into the land of the living I wasn't surprised to find that Daddy had rather sensibly put everything that was able to be frozen in to one of our freezers, ready for eating when we were all feeling a little better.

So far, my Mum has sampled the Mince Pies (they are delicious) and the Wine (lovely) and I've had the Sprouts (I do love sprouts and these ones were lovely). We didn't get to eat the cabbage as unfortunately the packet had split and I don't tend to eat food with alcohol in it, most of the meat is in the freezer (well the six bird roast is defrosting ready for Christmas Day, because despite it not being gluten free, the children and I don't mind and will tuck in to it along with the ham!).

Now today is the last day of last minute prep for Christmas Day and Boxing Day and having now sampled a few of the delights that we were given by Asda, I think that I'll be joining the throng of shoppers picking up some last minute extra side dishes for our Christmas Day Meal.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Secret Santa Mistake

Every year the children want to participate in a Secret Santa. I'm sure that like most people they have the assumption that they are going to be able to find the perfect gift for the person they are drawn. Of course this only ever happens once in a life time and even then only if you are really lucky. I have witnessed it once, when a work colleague purchased a box full of malt loaf for another colleague. The recipient was over the moon, as he was always seen with a piece of toasted malt loaf in hand.

Secret Santa gifts under the tree

Anyway.

My Mum, the Children, Daddy and I were entered our names into the family Secret Santa. A budget of £5 was given and we drew names. It was fairly easy for me to work out who had drawn who, seeing as I knew who I had (Daddy), Big Boy asked Daddy for help (he had me) and Top Ender (My Mum) and my Mum (Top Ender) asked me for help.

Everything was going well. Big Boy got the gifts he wanted to choose (and almost told me in the process). Top Ender got the gifts she wanted to choose. I managed to pick something out. My Mum managed to work something out. All that was left was Daddy.

The night before the exchange, I gently reminded Daddy he still needed to buy a gift and I gently nudged him in the right direction of something that BB might like. Confusion covered his face and we managed to work out that someone (My Mum) had accidentally got a gift for the wrong person...

Luckily Daddy was then able to buy a gift for BB instead of Top Ender, as he had accidentally left it to the last minute to buy his gift.

My Mum feels terrible, so maybe next year we'll write the names really big, just so she can't make the mistake again!

Have you ever got the perfect gift for a Secret Santa draw or do you have a fail safe idea that suits everyone? Perhaps you know of a mistake that's happened just like the one I've detailed above? Let me know in the comments below, as I need some tips for next year and something to make my Mum feel better!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Creating A Poundland Wonderland

I love decorating the house for Christmas, you already know that if you've read this blog before or seen me on Twitter or Facebook or just passed my house! I have always thought that this time of year is magical and so decorating for me just means I get to make a little more magic inside the house. As in years past the only room in our house that hasn't really seen any decoration is mine and Daddy's bedroom as it just has this little bauble Christmas Tree thingy.

The units at the end of my bed

So Poundland asked if I'd like to create a poundland wonderland in one of the rooms of my home and the children and I decided that the only room that wasn't decorated was my bedroom and so therefore the one room that needed to be decorated was of course my bedroom!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Ugh, I'm sick

I hate getting sick, but it seems at this time of year and with children bringing home all sorts of germs from School it's inevitable that they'll get sick and then of course me as chief nursemaid will get sick too. I thought that this last time I'd been lucky. Daddy had looked after a poorly Big Boy whilst Top Ender and I had been running around doing things we'd agreed to that weekend. However as the week went on and Big Boy continued to be sick and Top Ender came down with it too, I knew my luck was going to change.

And it did in a rather violent fashion.

So now I'm poorly and I'm not really a very good patient, especially when it's so close to Christmas and I have so much to do.

Well, actually I don't have anything to do. I'm unusually organised this year. I've wrapped all the gifts to our family, I've wrapped all the gifts Santa asked me to help with for the children's stockings. I've made my shopping list for all the food I need to buy, so even if I can't get out to get it, Daddy knows exactly what it is that we need and from what shop.

At least, I suppose there are Christmas movies on 24/7 to keep me amused and it's fun trying to guess what is being delivered downstairs, as Daddy has banned me from going downstairs as he doesn't want to catch what I have!

Still, a day of bed rest is probably a very good thing.

Christmas lights that I can see from my bed

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

December Sickbed Crafting With Bostik

With Big Boy and Top Ender both being off school this week due to illness (BB will be going back to School tomorrow he's fine even if his blood sugars are all over the place!) it would have been easy to resort to letting them both just sit in bed, watch cartoons and play on their tablets. And to be fair, both the children did a fair bit of that because when you feel as lousy as they did/do it's just about as much as you can manage to not fall asleep mid sentence. However, I'm a mean and evil Mum. The sort that doesn't care if you're off School sick and still makes you practice your times tables, spellings and handwriting and so when they were feeling a little better (late afternoon) I got them doing some Mummy home school.

Big Boy had been learning about symmetry at School before he was ill, so I set him up with a bunch of paper circles and got him designing baubles and snowflakes.

Symmetry homework - design a snowflake

We're going to attach all his snowflake designs to some invisible thread I have and hang them from the ceiling of his bedroom for a wintery design. He's rather pleased with the idea and his designs and I'm happy that he's still doing something educational.

For Top Ender though, I needed something a little more out of the box, or rather in the box as it turns out. At School Top's been learning about expressing herself through Art and so I gave her this months Bostik Craft Box and let her have at it.

Out of all the things she created I can only show you this brilliant Santa Hat, as the rest are going to be given as Christmas gifts!

Home Made Santa Hat

Top Ender used the glue dots that Bostik make (and we now LOVE because they are seriously good for everything) up one side of a cardboard cone. Then very carefully she lined a sheet of red felt up against the lower edge of the cone and wrapped it round to cover the cone. She tucked the excess felt inside the cone as I hadn't given her any scissors, but I think it helped keep it all neat.

Inside of a Santa Hat decoration

She added more glue dots up one side of the felt to keep it all together and I think she did quite a good job.

The next step involved a bit of trial and error. Top Ender had originally wanted to glue balls of cotton wool to the bottom, but she decided it didn't give her the clean look she was looking for and so instead found a skein of white thread and after drawing a circle of glue around the bottom edge, wrapped the thread round and round and round and round and round. She thought that this looked a little more neat, but also gave the hat the traditional Santa look.

The next step was to create a pompom for the top of the hat.

She did this herself, by wrapping the thread around her fingers and tying the centre in a knot (you know how to make pompoms I'm sure) and by this point I found her some scissors to cut the threads to shape it in to a pompom. Tops found it easier to attach a white pipe cleaner to the pompom and curled it round the cone in the felt at the top of the hat so that it wouldn't stick up or out too far.

Santa Hat Pompom on a pipe cleaner

And then she presented it to me, for my made over Christmas bedroom!

Bostik Family Craft Bloggers Network Badge

All the crafts were sent to us as part of the Bostik Family Craft Bloggers Network.

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Cold Truth And Why I'm Always Coughing At Christmas #Sponsored Post

In childhood pictures of me at Christmas time, I was the quintessential ruddy cheeked smiley child. With my blond hair and almost permanent grin, I was just like those little cherubs you see hanging around the manger of the Baby Jesus. What you didn't see, just out of shot is the bottles of cough medicine and baby paracetamol and various other items that my Parents, Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles would buy for me in order to get me through the day. For every year, without fail I was ill at Christmas. Somehow, the children have skipped most of my cold at Christmas genes, well Top Ender does have a cough and BB is currently laying on the sofa feeling incredibly sorry for himself...

Big Boy asleep and poorly on the sofa

According to decongestant experts Olbas and some research they and others have done today, Monday 15th December is the most cold ridden day of the year.

Great.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Why Santa Only Brings Little Things

Many years ago, when Top Ender was small, Daddy and I had a chat about Santa. We decided between us that Santa wasn't going to be responsible for the main gifts in our home. In our home, there would of course be gifts from Santa, but the main gifts, the ones that cost a lot of money? They'd come from us. Upstairs gifts, from Santa, downstairs gifts from us.

Top Ender and Big Boy at Christmas

We knew that Top Ender's friends wouldn't have the same rules in their home, so we casually dropped into conversation with Top Ender about how Santa asked us to pay for half the presents he gave to us. Top Ender accepted this, she was small and it didn't seem unreasonable to her, especially as I'm pretty sure we also explained that this was something he or his Chief Elf spoke about to all parents who were in certain tax brackets.

A couple of years later, Top Ender accidentally found some stocking gifts I'd carefully selected for her. I knew that she wouldn't believe me if I told her that they were for someone else, she'd realise come Christmas Day so I decided to inform Top Ender, that occasionally, as well as sending money we could also send small trinkets for Santa to include in stockings... again Top Ender accepted this.

So in our house, Santa doesn't bring the big ticket items. He doesn't bring Bikes, or TV's or Computers. He brings little things like, tissues, sweets, notepads, pens, pencils, stickers, and necklaces and occasionally things that enhance computer games.

And why am I telling you this?

I'm telling you this because maybe this will be a good idea for you to bring into your home, a way to get out of those tricky issues when the children see a little something that they shouldn't, or when they ask for something that there is just no way you can afford, but they don't understand why Santa can't afford it, or make it as we are often told he does in stories. And maybe it'll help you be the hero this Christmas.

The A Mother's Ramblings Family at Christmas

What sort of gifts does Santa bring to your home?

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Computer Games For Christmas

It's no secret that here at A Mother's Ramblings, we love a computer game. Be it on the Wii, the Wii U, the Playstation (3, because I'm not made of money) or the Xbox (360 because again I'm not made of money!) or even on the PC if it's something that interests us then we save up for it. In fact BB currently has £60 saved in anticipation of a game coming out soon that he'll want. He isn't sure what it will be, but he knows that if he saves he'll be ready.

There were two games on the early drafts of the children's Christmas lists this year. Top Ender was very interested in The Sims 4 (It seems a love of The Sims is passed down genetically) and Big Boy was after Skylands Trap Team, for any platform.

Big Boy was making sure that he would get the game, as well as requesting it from Santa he was also saving up to buy Trap Team. As luck would have it we were invited to a launch party, along with some celebs (one of them was Danny Dyer and boy was my sister jealous. I told her that he kissed me, but in reality he just gave me one of those nod of the head "Wassup" type gestures as he backed away from me.) and game reviewers and the like and was given a copy of the game. Big Boy mentioned something about this blog being the best thing to ever happen to this family and then started playing Trap Team and filming himself doing so for his Youtube channel, so I had to be quiet.

Skylanders Trap Team

Friday, 12 December 2014

Little Dish For Bigger Kids #Review

Top Ender and Big Boy love the occasional ready meal treat. For them, it's a chance to go to the Supermarket and pick something that they really fancy and then of course let me cook it before they get to eat it. The problem that they normally have is that their favourite ready meals are the Little Dish ones, which are a little too small for them, so as well as cooking the ready meal, I need to cook a couple of side dishes too. No, problem there really but if they are in a hurry (as they often are!) then the extra time it takes me to boil some potatoes or steam some vegetables they get driven to madness... not that anyone would notice the difference.

Little Dish must have read my mind however, as they have magically come up with a new range Little Dish For Bigger Kids. How fantastic right? These meals are the right size for Top Ender and Big Boy, and more importantly for me I trust the Little Dish meals to be good quality. Little Dish asked if we'd like to try their meals and sent across, one of each from their range. Chunky Chicken Pot Roast, Mild Beef Chilli and Rice, Mediterranean Cod and Tomato Casserole and Seven Veg Lasagne.

A parcel from the Little Dish Team

Top Ender and Big Boy decided between them which they would like, Top Ender picked the chunky chicken pot roast and Big Boy picked the seven veg lasagne. And just in case you were wondering, it was Halloween hence the make up!


Big Boy posing with his Seven Veg Little Dish Lasagne

Top Ender's Chunky Chicken Casserole

Later that night, Daddy and I were totally starved and so we snuck the other two dishes for our own evening meal. Daddy went for the Chilli and I had the cod and tomato casserole.

Daddy's Mild Beef Chilli and Rice

Mediterranean Cod and Tomato Casserole

So what did we think? Well, unsurprisingly the children loved the dishes and Daddy loved the fact that apart from the lasagne that BB had, all of them were gluten free. He did complain that the chilli was too mild, but I reminded him these are designed for the mouths of children (up to age six, but Top Ender at 10 loved them too) and so the mildness is a good thing.

We loved that there were chunkier "lumps" in the dishes, and that they were the same great flavours we've come to expect from a Little Dish meal but we also loved that the portions were a little bigger (still small enough for the children to enjoy the whole meal) and these are no doubt going to be our new ready meal of choice!

We were sent the meals to review.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Squishable, Huggable And Not Mine :(

This week, a delivery for me arrived. Inside the package was this.

Squishable 15" Giant Round Owl

That's right, a slightly sleeping looking owl. Isn't he adorable? He was sent by a very lovely lady who I think has the best job in the world, as she gets to hug these cuddly giant soft toys all the time. As soon as I got him out of the box, Big Boy pounced. HE'S SO CUTE I WANT TO HUG HIM! And then Big Boy hugged him and wouldn't let go.

My new owl wasn't mine any more.

The owl was immediately named Rolo by Big Boy and has gone with Big Boy EVERYWHERE, including Church!

Top Ender, Big Boy and Rolo on the way to Church

When Rolo was at Church, everyone wanted to give him a hug or a squeeze, or wanted to buy one for themselves because it's true the first thing you do when you see one of the Squishable family is just hug them!

The large 15" Squishable's are priced at £34.99, and they have smaller ones that measure 7" and 3", that cost £17.99 and £6.99 respectively and postage is £4.95 for those of us in the UK, unless you spend over £60 in which case P&P is free.

BB absolutely adores him, uses him as a pillow, a foot rest, something to hug when he's going to sleep and I love it. Even more so, I love that everyone in the family loves Rolo... look who I caught sneaking a hug and dance with him!

Daddy dancing with RoloDaddy noticing I'd seen him dancing with RoloDaddy hugging Rolo

That's right, even Daddy loves Rolo. Maybe he won't mind if I get him to buy me one, I quite like the idea of the Cinnamon Bun to cuddle up to in bed... or maybe the pink owl or the hedgehog or the cupcake or... who am I kidding I would love any of them!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Christmas Frame Completed!

When I posted about the frame I wanted to hang above the Fireplace, I wanted an idea from someone of something that I could do that would look great, something that would fit in with our other decorations, something that was pulled from my head without me realising it. All the ideas, that everyone gave were fantastic, and I put them all to the family and they were all very excited about them all, but there was one idea that caught my imagination more than the others and that one was from Sally at Who's The Mummy, and if ever there was someone that could pull something from my brain without me realising it, it's her.

So I present to you the Christmas frame all completed.

Christmas Decorated Fireplace

We went with Sally's idea of each family member holding up a letter to spell the word "Merry". When I read that, I knew that I wanted something to go underneath, that would finish the sentiment so I picked a font that I liked, found my printable acetate and printed out the word Christmas.

Acetate Christmas sign

It wasn't quite right though, so with the help of some glitter glue, I created a sparkly Christmas.

Glittered Acetate Christmas sign

After letting it dry, and getting the rest of the family to take a photograph holding a letter, I was almost ready to put it together. 

Daddy with the letter MPippaD with the letter E

Top Ender with the letter RBig Boy with the letter R

It was just in a family of four, we needed someone else to hold the fifth letter. Luckily I found a photo of the Elves holding a Y on my phone when I came to print out the photographs!

Jingle and Belle with the letter Y

Thank goodness for them listening into conversations huh?

So with that I put it all together, and I'm now a very happy Christmas bunny.

Merry Christmas

Although I'm not too happy with that acetate... I wonder if my husband would mind if I stencilled on the wall?

Borrowing Christmas Traditions

I've described myself in the past as a bit of a Christmas Magpie, as in if I see something I like I borrow it and use it with my family. I did it with Jen's Five Gift Idea (and if you're looking for an adorable Christmas Memories Book take at look at hers, it's fab and if I hadn't spent a fortune printing mine out a couple of years back I'd so want this one!), I did it with Elf on the Shelf, I have started putting Marshmallows on Sweet Potatoes after some Missionaries told me it was the only way (it's not the only way, but it is pretty darn great) and I did it with Sinterklaas by borrowing it from a Nursery Worker who used to look after Top Ender.

Sinterklass, comes to our house around the 5th/6th December depending on what else I'm doing and how prepared I am. When he comes, we have to make sure our shoes are clean and neat and this year despite us not leaving them out, but in the shoe box at the bottom of the stairs when we woke up on the 5th he had been leaving sweets and other small gifts for the children in/near their shoes!

Sinterklaas left gifts for Top Ender and Big Boy in their shoes!

In fact, Sinterklaas had thought Daddy and I had been extra good this year, as we got treats too!

Sinterklaas left treats in mine and Daddy's shoes too!

Everyone, apart from me, has already made a start on their treats from Sinterklaas with them all marvelling over the brilliant treats that he gave us and being terribly excited about what other things might happen between now and Christmas. If you have any great Christmas Traditions, that you think I might not have heard of then please do let me know of them in the comments!

And this is why I'm like a magpie. Anything that I see that I think is fun and would work well for my family is adopted and made one of our Christmas traditions because at this time of year, people seem to be nicer and more caring and willing to believe in good things and do good things. I guess at this time of year, everyone is more willing to see the magic in the everyday.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Peter Pan The Panto (Try saying that real quick!)

Tonight saw Top Ender, Big Boy and I racing to the train station to pick up Daddy, who'd come back from Birmingham for a few hours in order to join us in one of our much loved Christmas Traditions, going to see the Panto at Milton Keynes Theatre. This year, the panto is Peter Pan, (which is a much loved story in our home) and the star of the show was no doubt Bradley Walsh, who (I may be alone in saying this, but I don't care) looks jolly handsome. Really handsome.

Bradley Walsh setting my heart on fire