Friday, 17 November 2017

My gorgeous Birthday presents

Just before we went on holiday I celebrated my birthday! It was a funny day as I was very busy doing the packing and getting last minute bits and pieces sorted for the blog - I celebrated in the evening with a trip to Asda to pick up a few things! But I did take some time to myself during the day to sit down with some cake and chocolates, and a couple of new episodes of Red Dwarf.

I received some lovely presents this year so I thought I'd share them with you, because if you read my blog you are likely a similar sort of person to me and it might give you some inspiration as you put together your Christmas list! So in no particular order, here are some of the lovely things that I received. Amazon links are affiliate, there's no extra cost to you but if you buy something through the link then I earn a few pennies :)

My brother bought me this awesome Cross Stitch Map which I had seen advertised constantly over my social media - I'm clearly firmly in the target demographic! It's a dark blue and white map printed on cross stitch fabric, and you can customise it however you like. As you can see I've got quite a way to go yet, but I've got lots of plans. I'm intending to use different shades of green to colour the countries that I've visited, then I'll mark out road trips and cruises in different coloured threads. I also want to add in extra pictures of landmarks or other things that represent that country to me. Although I guess it will never actually be finished!

Cross stitch map kit

Sticking with a crafty theme, my parents bought me a circular weaving kit which my Mum bought at a knitting show. It's from The Threshing Barn and comes with a metal hoop, lots of different textured pieces of yarn and some instructions. It's not something that I've ever tried before, so I'm looking forward to getting started!

Circular weaving kit

My sister bought me this fab mug that attracted a lot of interest over on Instagram - Little Miss Blogger. Perfect for my morning hot drink while I'm working! I've also seen around a Little Miss Social Media mug, maybe one to ask for next year!

A post shared by jenniferjain (@jenniferjain) on

Ram cleared out my Amazon wishlist with some book purchases, along with a couple of extras. I've already read The Year of Living Danishly and I enjoyed it very much, now I'm working my way through The Little Book of Hygge. I'm a couple of years behind the times on the whole Hygge craze but it's definitely a concept that appeals me as winter approaches!

Collection of books I received as gifts

The children bought me some Malteser chocolates which are always very much appreciated. Then Mia chose a lovely sparkly bracelet for me and Harry bought me some crafty bits and pieces for the craft box - I love getting things that they've chosen themselves.

Finally my friend bought me some lovely crocus bulbs that I need to get on and plant along with a bottle of wine. I felt very spoilt!

Crocus bulbs

Now people keep asking me what I want for Christmas and I have no ideas left!

 

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Books for older children from Gecko Press

Today I'm taking a look at two fantastic new books from Gecko Press which would make great stocking fillers for older children.

Impossible Inventions: Ideas that Shouldn't Work is a witty and fascinating collection of ideas, plans and patents that will spark the imaginations of both young and old.

Impossible Inventions book review

The book is packed with ideas for inventions - both ancient and modern, some revolutionary and some that are simply impossible. There's a flying bicycle, passenger clouds and passenger birds, and my favourite, the Concentration Helmet. Each invention comes with diagrams showing it in action and notes. Some are purely fictional and hypothetical and others solve a definite need, particularly from periods when science hadn't yet caught up with the problem.

Impossible Inventions book review

It's a fascinating book to browse through for both adults and children!

Secondly, Follow Finn allows the reader to follow along with Finn through a story, completing search and find mazes and absorbing puzzles.

Follow Finn maze book review

Each double page spread in the story is packed with detail, and while going through the book the reader is given tasks along the way, for example to find Finn's clothes when he wakes up in the morning, to match keys to a lock, and to find the way through a maze. There are also a selection of objects which need to be found on each page.

Follow Finn maze book review

Some of the puzzles are easy and some are more challenging, making it a fun book to read together and great for chatting about together.

If you have younger children, they might enjoy these picture books from Gecko Press for younger readers.



I received copies of these books to review. Amazon links are affiliate.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari

On our recent family holiday to Singapore we were invited to spend a day at the fabulous Singapore Zoo, followed by an evening exploring the attractions of the Night Safari

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari with the family review

Singapore Zoo


We arrived at Singapore Zoo around 1 pm, as we were combining our day with the Night Safari. The zoo shuts at 6 pm, and we found that we had just the right amount of time to see everything.

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari review

There's a small charge for a guided tram ride which you can use throughout your visit. We managed without, but it would be a good idea if you have younger children, as the day can involve a lot of walking. The tram takes a route which covers most of the park, and you can hop on and off at various stations for a closer look before getting back on again.

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari review

If you are visiting from a cooler climate like us, you need to be aware that it can be very hot and humid in Singapore. Make sure that you pack plenty of water (there are outlets selling drinks around the park, as well as free water machines for topping up your bottles) and wear light, comfortable clothing and shoes. We were lucky with the weather on our visit, but having been caught in a heavy shower and thunderstorm earlier in the week I made note that there were plenty of covered areas for shelter in a downpour! There are also many indoor exhibits which are air conditioned, always nice for a break from the heat.

We spent lots of time at the Free Ranging Orangutan Island which was fantastic, you could walk all around and underneath as the Orangutans moved above and around you. One thing that is really special about Singapore Zoo is how cleverly the enclosures are designed to remove as many barriers as possible between you and the animals, and it's great to watch them in a more natural environment.

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari review

In the Fragile Forest exhibit you can walk among free ranging creatures like these beautiful toucans, which we all loved.

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari review

We also spent a great deal of time watching the Giant Tortoises. They had just been fed and they made such a racket while they were crunching on their vegetables. They are such fascinating creatures.

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari review

Another highlight of our visit was the Elephants at Work and Play show which takes place twice daily. We watched the elephants carry out a range of tasks from delicately picking up a coin with their trunk to moving a massive tree trunk, all the while seeing the bond that they have with their riders, the mahouts. It was fascinating, and much better than the usual watching an elephant just walking around their enclosure. 

Elephants at Work and Play show, Singapore Zoo

There was so much to see, and you can get more of an idea from the short video at the bottom of this post. Finally I have to include a quick snap from the toilets which I loved - what a great view to have as you are washing your hands!

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari review

Night Safari


Singapore Zoo closes at 6pm and The Night Safari opens at 7.15pm with the first show starting at 7.30pm, so you have time to grab something to eat in between from a choice of food outlets. The two zoos are just a few minutes walk away from each other, and because the first show can be busy it's worth making sure that arrive early to secure your seats.

Singapore Night Safari review

Just outside the entrance there was a zookeeper with a snake that you could meet and touch, fascinating for the little ones! 

Singapore Night Safari review

Then we headed to the Creatures of the Night show - a 20 minute show which highlights the natural abilities of some of the most fascinating animals. We loved the show, it was a great mixture of fierce animals and the more cuddly and tame creatures, with plenty of humour. I wasn't able to take any photos as the amphitheare is kept dimly lit, but you can get a good feel for the show from the short video below!



After the show we boarded a tram for the Tram Safari Experience. This 40 minute tour takes you through six geographical zones of the world, with plenty to see along the way. The tram guide took us through what we were seeing and pointed out the animals that were hiding in the shadows. 

After the tram ride there are a number of self-guided walks that you can take through the zoo. It's dark, but there is dim lighting and staff to help you find your way. We took the Wallaby Trail, inspired by the unique wildlife of the Australian Outback and highland forests. The zoo is so well designed that especially at night you can't always make out the fences and so it really does feel at points as though you are right there among the animals, and there are also quite a few free ranging animals to spot. 

We also did the Fishing Cat Trail, featuring some native species from the jungles of Singapore. The walking trails are the perfect length, each one takes about twenty minutes but you can spend as long as you want enjoying the animals at the time of day that suits them best.

We had a great day and although it was long day it was fantastic to be able to combine both zoos in one visit. If you are visiting Singapore, whether with or without children, I'd absolutely recommend a visit, I definitely think that the zoos are one of the must-see Singapore attractions.

Singapore Zoo review

You can see more of the fun that we had at Singapore Zoo in the short video that I made about our day:


We were provided with complimentary family entry to Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari in exchange for this review. You can find full details, including entry prices and opening times, here on the Wildlife Reserves Singapore website, as well as further information about the other parks in the group - the River Safari and the Jurong Bird Park.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Pipe cleaner Christmas crafts for children

Festive Christmas crafts using pipe cleaners for children

This month the theme for my Bostik Bloggers craft box was Christmas, and as I've collected quite a few pipe cleaners from the last few boxes I thought I'd come up with a few ways to use them to make some simple Christmas decorations.

Decorated Christmas tree ornaments

Bostik Crafting for Christmas

To make these little Christmas tree decorations cut out small triangles from festive cardboard, mine measure about 12cm in height. If your cardboard is only coloured on one side you might want to cut out two triangles and glue them back to back - I used green glittery card on one side and gold card on the other. Use a hole punch to make a hole at the top for hanging.

Then use the Bostik Foam Pads to stick small decorations to the trees - I used little jewels and sequins. The foam pads give the embellishments a nice, raised effect. Use a sparkly pipe cleaner through the top to make a loop for hanging.

Simple Christmas tree decoration for children to make

Beaded snowflakes

Making a beaded snowflake decoration with children

First cut a long white pipe cleaner into three pieces, with one piece slightly larger than the other two. Twist the pieces around each other to make a snowflake shape, and use the longer end to make a round loop for hanging. Thread beads on to the ends of the snowflake - the textured surface of the pipe cleaner should hold them firmly in place. Finish the decorations with a white pom pom, secured firmly in the centre using a Bostik Foam Pad.

Beaded snowflake decorations for children to make

Jangly candy cane hanging decorations

Finally these pipe cleaner candy cane hanging decorations are really easy to make. All you need are two pipe cleaners in red and white, some bells and some string for hanging. Wrap the two pipe cleaners around each other to create a striped stick, bend over at the top, add a small bell at the bottom and tie some string to the top for hanging. Very festive!


The box of craft materials was provided to me free of charge by Bostik as part of the Tots100/Bostik Craft Bloggers Club.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

A family visit to The Science Centre, Singapore

We have recently returned from a fantastic family holiday to Asia, and while in Singapore we were invited to spend a fantastic day exploring the Science Centre, Singapore and trying out some of the different attractions there.

Science Centre Singapore family visit review

We started with the travelling exhibition Circus! Science Under the Big Top which will be at the Science Centre from 28th October 2017 to 18th March 2018. It's an interactive exhibition with an insight into the science behind the intriguing, gravity defying circus acts.

Circus! Science under the Big Top exhibition Singapore

There were lots of things to discover, like how sword swallowers manage their tricks, and learning about the physics behind balance. Mia was brave enough to have a go on the High Wire cable suspended three metres above the ground, and both children had a great time dressing up as circus performers and putting on their own show.

Child walking on a tight rope

Then we entered Butterflies Up-Close - a series of exhibits about caterpillars and butterflies followed by entry to the live butterfly enclosure with butterflies from Singapore and the region. We were given the chance to hold a huge butterfly, although only I was brave enough! There were some beautiful butterflies, and Mia loved identifying them in her spotters guide.

Large butterfly up close at Singapore Science Centre

The Mind's Eye was our next stop - an exhibition on illusions and human perception that is one of the first exhibitions that visitors encounter in the entrance gallery. There are lots of different illusions to play with your mind. One of our favourites was a Lego sculpture that appeared to be a random collection of bricks, but when rotated cast shadows of a variety of different things. You can see it in action in my video at the bottom of this post!

Singapore Science Centre

Next we entered Professor Crackitt's Light Fantastic mirror maze experience, where we spent far longer than we probably should have! This mirror maze is Asia's largest, and it features 105 mirror cells and numerous interactive exhibits which bring out the science concepts behind lights, colours and reflection. Visitors are provided with a foam stick to wave ahead of them, which is a great help when it comes to identifying the mirrors. 

We entered at the same time as a school group and it was quite chaotic at first as everyone was running about trying to find the way though. Suddenly they all disappeared and we found ourselves alone, still stuck in the maze. We were so stuck that we even went back to the beginning to check with the assistant that there was actually an exit and that other people had found the way through. She assured us that yes, there was indeed a separate way out, so this time we tried a more systematic approach, and finally cracked it! It was really fun, and the children loved it!

Mirror Maze at Singapore Science Centre

We had a quick break for lunch, and after eating the children explored some of the exhibits in the Kinetic Garden where some large scale attractions demonstrate scientific principles and phenomena. There's also Waterworks outside with some brilliant wet hands on exhibits - we gave this a miss on this occasion although I'll be more more prepared with swimwear if we visit again!

Kinetic Garden at Science Centre Singapore

After lunch we spent a fun hour or so inside Snow City Singapore, Singapore's first permanent indoor snow centre. There's an Arctic Snow Slide where you can race down a 60m long snow slope on a rubber ring, lots of fun, especially when you can slide down together as a family.

Snow City Singapore sledging

There's also a play area with a few slides and an igloo which had Halloween and Christmas themed areas. We were provided with jackets and gloves which was plenty to keep us warm, although perhaps we are quite used to cold temperatures from back home! 

Snow City Singapore play area

Finally we finished our packed day at Kids Stop. Kids Stop is an edutainment centre aimed at young children aged from 18 months to 8 years, and ours absolutely loved it here. We spent nearly two hours inside at the end of a long day, and they were still not ready to leave. They started in a sandpit dinosaur dig, which they both loved and would probably have stayed there the whole time if we hadn't dragged them out! They they discovered the amazing climbing area made up of platforms and nets, with a musical area at the very top. It was open to adults too, (although perhaps only the smaller and more nimble ones!) and was a huge amount of fun.

Kids Stop at Science Centre, Singapore

Mia had a brilliant time playing in the pretend shop, using her hand as a shopping list and going around in search of what she was after, before beeping it through a till. It was fun to see a different range of play food that the ones that we are used to at home, with different types of fruit, bread and meat.

Kids Stop at Science Centre, Singapore

They also had great fun moving balls about with a crane, playing with large foam blocks and all sorts of interactive activities.

We had a fantastic day, there was loads to do and plenty left over for future visits if we make it that way again!

I made a short video showing some of the highlights of our day - enjoy!


We were provided with complimentary entry to the museum and the other attractions in exchange for sharing our visit on social media. Some of these attractions have an extra cost in addition to the entry price. You can find out more information, including opening hours and ticket prices, here - Science Centre Singapore.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

November - Lately I've been...

I can't believe it's November already! October was a very busy month, and with a two week half term we were lucky enough to enjoy an amazing holiday with the children. We spent a week in Hong Kong and a week in Singapore and it was such a great holiday, I'll be sharing many of our adventures on the blog over the next few weeks.

So here's what I've been up to lately.

Thinking about

Everything that we needed to get sorted for the holiday. I got quite anxious in the last few days before we went away, trying to make sure that not only was the packing done, that the house was also clean, the fridge was emptied, all homework was completed in advance and all the uniform was washed, not to mention getting content scheduled in for my blog and other social media channels. It was exhausting!

Crafting

After finishing a pink and white granny square blanket for Mia, Harry implied that he'd rather like one too. I have plenty of white yarn left over, and I found a few balls of green and blue that I let him choose from. I'll be alternating rows of colour and white, and when it has reached the size of a nice big square I'll add a few extra rows along two sides to make it a little more rectangular. I like this sort of blanket because once you get going it's really easy and you don't have to concentrate too hard, I can work on it in front of the television or while catching up on YouTube.



I've also been working with a book that I was sent to review - The Line. It's a book designed to spark your creativity and it's been quite fun to work through, I still have quite a way to go though!

Watching

I've not had much time for watching anything, as I've been busy working most evenings. I did enjoy The Child in Time, although it wasn't quite as good as I was hoping. The book made a massive impression on me when I studied it for my A-Levels, and I felt that the television adaptation just didn't even make a dent in the material. I've re-read the book since watching it, and it's so much better! I'm very much looking forward to seeing the new Thor film when we manage to make the time to go and see it!

Eating

When we travel we definitely don't seek out adventurous eating experiences. We are all quite fussy, myself less so perhaps, but when it comes to the children we definitely have to stick to something familiar. We ate breakfast in Starbucks most mornings and I've definitely eaten more than my fair share of cake over the last couple of weeks!

Travelling to

We visited Singapore ten years ago and loved it, but the Singapore that we've just returned from was almost unrecognisable, it's changed so much! The skyline is completely different with some amazing buildings, and there were only a couple of times that I was reminded of our previous trip. Singapore is a brilliant place to visit with children as there is so much to do. Hong Kong was also fantastic, I didn't really know what it would be like and it far surpassed expectations. We spent two days at Hong Kong Disneyland which was fab, and then saw the other main sights. We are definitely considering returning to Asia for our next big holiday!

Children visiting Hong Kong

Reading

I've actually been doing a lot of reading lately! We have an Amazon Prime account, and if we choose the standard delivery we get Kindle credit. It all adds up, and I've been able to 'buy' quite a few new books. I've read three books - My Sister's Bones by Nuala Ellwood, Blood Sisters by Jane Corry and
After I've Gone by Linda Green. They were all pretty much the same type of book, good thrillers with a twist at the end, although they do all have elements of violence against women, something that I've noticed in all the recent books that I've read lately. Not sure whether that's because those sorts of books are generally popular at the moment, or whether it's just the books that I'm drawn to based on the cover and description.

I was also lucky enough to receive a big pile of books for my birthday which I'll be working my way through. They are mainly non fiction books, so a bit of a change, and also the new Philip Pullman book which I know Harry will enjoy too.

Planning

After all the time I spent planning before we went away, both for the holiday itself and all the associated blog and social media stuff, it was really nice to be able to relax and get away from it all! Now that we are back the countdown to Christmas has definitely started, so I'm going to be busy getting that all sorted, especially organising the calendar which always fills up at this time of year!

Looking forward to

I love the build up to Christmas, even though it can get a bit busy and hectic. Actually my favourite part is those few days once the children have finished school and all the excitement that goes along with that, and we can spend a bit of family time together before the big day.

What have you been up to lately?

Monday, 6 November 2017

Vlogmas inspiration - a list of ideas for Christmas videos

Last year for the first time I took part in Vlogmas - a daily video uploaded to YouTube in the run up to Christmas. I only decided to take part on the evening of November 30th, so it was all very last minute and I'd already missed filming a few Christmas moments, but I managed to complete the challenge, and I love having all our Christmas memories captured on video for us to look back on.

Vlogmas ideas for Christmas videos and vlogs

I've not decided yet whether or not to take part this year, but if I do I'm definitely going to be a lot more organised and come up with a few ideas in advance for those days when inspiration doesn't strike. So I thought I'd share them here in case you are looking for any ideas to fill your Vlogmas calendar!

Videos

* Advent calendars - do you have one for yourself or do you arrange them for your children? What sorts of things are inside? Do you buy a new one each year or do you have a reusable Advent Calendar?

* Film a trip to the local garden centre to share the themes, decorations, lights, any unusual Christmas decorations that they have, fun gift ideas

* How does your local town centre decorate for Christmas? Is there a celebrity turning the lights on or fireworks afterwards? You might be able to film carol singers or a band playing in the town centre and any Christmas window displays or Christmas street food

* Take a trip around your neighbourhood or estate and film some of the decorated houses, is there somewhere local to you that is well known for decorated houses? Share with your viewers in case they are looking for somewhere to visit!

* Film putting up your Christmas tree, I've seen some fun stop motion videos of the tree being assembled and decorated

* Show us your Christmas tree when it is fully decorated and tell us the stories behind your favourite ornaments

* Visit a Christmas market and film the things for sale, food and drink, any entertainment, rides and so on

* Film your visit to the school or local Christmas fair, having fun playing the games, maybe a visit to Father Christmas and a go on the tombola

* A trip to the pantomime or other Christmas show

* Share a Christmas recipe - this can inspire several videos. Share your favourite simple Christmas treat or a longer project like making a Christmas gingerbread house

* Share a Christmas craft - again you can make several videos for different crafts. You could do your own take on a popular classic craft (making sure to give credit for any inspiration)

* Video a Christmas day out, perhaps a visit to a local attraction that has extra Christmas activities organised and festive decorations

* The school Nativity show or play - while you shouldn't share video that shows other children, you can interview your own child about the show and their part in it (in costume would be brilliant!) and get them to sing some of the songs for you at home by your Christmas tree

* How do you wrap your presents? Do you have a special technique that you can demonstrate? Share some favourite wrapping paper and other wrapping related purchases that you've bought this year

* If you have several areas of the house decorated for Christmas take us on a house tour

* Christmas Eve - what do you get up to? Maybe do a day in the life as you finish Christmas shopping, pick up the turkey, open the box of chocolates while you do some last minute wrapping, and hang up the stockings

Vlogs direct to camera

* Have a chat with your children about Christmas, prepare some questions in advance for example 'what time will you get up on Christmas morning', 'what is your favourite Christmas food', 'what songs did you dance to at your Christmas party'

* Interview your children about what presents they are hoping for and what presents they think other people would like

* Ask friends and family members to share a Christmas memory about you on camera and edit them together, you could end up with a fun selection of anecdotes ranging from your favourite present as a child to a work Christmas party memorable moment!

* Your favourite Christmas memories

* Your Christmas traditions, what do you do every year? If you have children, has that inspired you to start any new traditions?

* What are your favourite Christmas songs? Can you sing them?!

* See if there is a Vlogmas tag going around with different Christmas questions to answer, there often is! If you can't spot one, why not come up with your own list of questions and tag fellow vloggers to answer them, or ask your viewers to suggest questions

I hope that there is something here to inspire you, good luck!

You can see all my videos from Vlogmas 2016 below!


Friday, 3 November 2017

Before we go on holiday

In a few weeks we are jetting off on a pretty awesome holiday, and as our departure date approaches I am surrounded by lists and schedules.

When we go away I like the house to be left tidy. Mainly motivated I must by the the thought of an emergency while we are away - I don't want family and friends coming to the house and finding it a mess. So I'll spend the day before we go busy tidying, clearing surfaces, wiping down bathrooms and hoovering.

View from a plane window over coast

I make sure that we've eaten all the perishable food in the house. It's a good opportunity to sort out the fridge, which doesn't get cleaned as often as it should. There are always a few veggies lurking about that should have been disposed of long ago. It does mean that we usually end up with a takeaway the night before we go away because I've been a bit over zealous! I also water the plants, and in the summer I move them away from the sunny windowsill.

Of course there is the packing to do, and if I say so myself I'm quite good at packing. We are quite used to going away, even if it's just up to relatives for a night or two, so I've got a handle on the things that we'll need. I have a master packing list saved to the computer which has been built up over years and years and I amend it each time we go away (taking great pleasure in ticking off things like 'nappies' and 'baby monitor' as we came to no longer need them!)

Packing clothes is always a good opportunity to sort through the wardrobes. I'll take everything out and check that it all still fits and is in reasonable condition. There always seem to be something to discard! I'll also often stock up on pants and socks if it will save washing while we are away, they are always needed.

I'll make sure that the washing is as up to date as possible, especially if there is school uniform that needs to be washed and sorted. I know that when we come back I'll have several loads to do on the first day so it makes sense to be caught up!

View by a hotel pool somewhere hot

We are lucky to have neighbours and family to keep a close eye on our house while we are away, and with our new smart home gadgets we can keep an eye on visitors too. I do try to avoid ordering anything online for a couple of weeks before we go away though, I don't want to annoy the neighbours with taking in too many parcels!

I think that having all these things to do before we go away helps me with the anxiety that I can sometimes have about a trip - by making sure that I do everything on my list I can feel in control and thus be assured that everything will be all right while we are away. 

Are you the same?

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Hankering after minimalism but being a sentimental hoarder

I've written a lot on this blog about a journey towards minimalism. As well as dabbling with Marie Kondo and her methods and thus making sure that I only keep things in my home that spark joy, I have also played the minimalism game several times, most recently just last month. I've always decluttered regularly and made an effort to limit my possessions, it's a constant process.

I find that having lots of things around me causes me stress.  I love a clear surface, and I work hard daily to maintain them. I'm the only one in the house that is bothered so it does all fall to me, but to be honest I prefer that as at least I know where everything is!

However I could never manage to cut back to the bare minimum. I have had periods in my life when I lived day to day with very little, and I managed perfectly fine. For example, I spent a year living in Germany with what fitted into a large suitcase - including things like a massive German dictionary, a pillow, a large jar of Marmite and various bits of cooking equipment.

Unfortunately all this time I still had a large bedroom and part of the loft at my parent's house stuffed with my things - spare clothes, old school books, old toys... All this stuff did eventually make its way back to me when I moved into a house with a loft of my own, and has long been sorted, discarded and sent on its way.  Our loft now is empty apart from a few empty boxes and the Christmas decorations.

I still do have quite a collection of sentimental things though. I have photos and old diaries of course, and ticket stubs, leaflets and postcards. I have old yearbooks, programmes from my favourite theatre shows, a vintage magazine collection and various other bits of ephemera. How could I throw away something like my fantastic vintage 90s sticker collection, which I blogged about last week?

Vintage 90s child sticker album

Or this little fellow that sits on the shelf above my desk?


I also have what I like to call my 'treasure box' - a vintage wooden sewing box with fold out layers, packed with tiny erasers, dolls house accessories, shells, little figurines, badges and magnets.

So I'm never going to be one of those people that can live with less than 100 items, or only the things that will fit into a backpack. As much as I like a clear surface, I also like to be surrounded by things that bring joy and happy memories. I just need to make sure that they don't stay shut away in boxes and folders, and that I pull them out regularly to really appreciate them. I might even share some more of them here on the blog!

Monday, 30 October 2017

Blog post ideas for Winter


As the nights draw in and the chill descends, are you looking to fill your blog editorial calendar over the winter months? Here's some inspiration to help you through! Do note that I've avoided any mention of Christmas...that's a whole other blog post!

* What do you love about winter?

* What do you hate about winter?

* How do you know that winter is on the way?

* Where is your favourite place for a frosty Winter walk?

* Share a recipe for your favourite winter meal or comfort food

* Share your favourite warming winter drinks

* How do you make your home cosy for winter?

* What are your favourite winter outfits - share your cosy knitwear picks

* Do you decorate your home for winter, not just Christmas? Share your ideas and inspiration

* What are your winter family traditions?

* Share some favourite winter family films to snuggle up together with

* What is your winter travel wish list? (you can see my winter travel wishlist here!)

* Share your favourite winter memories - is it just me, or did it snow every year when I was little? I have many fond memories of being taken to school on a sledge and building enormous snowmen.

Small children nearly in the snow

* Tips for keeping warm, both at home and out and about

* Write a winter themed poem or short story to share on your blog

* Share your top winter gear picks for the family - snowsuits, wellies, hats and so on

* Cheer yourself up with some sunny memories - share some pictures from your last summer holiday and share plans for the next one

* If you have a few winter themed posts from previous years then combine them into a round up - for example crafts, recipes, days out

* Did you write any blog posts over the last year that could do with an update? For example a home renovation project, moving house, a new addition to the family

* Write about a television series or two that you've been binge watching lately

* What do you do in that period between Christmas and New Year?

* What are your New Year's resolutions and goals? How did the ones from last year go?

* Do you have any New Year's decluttering or organising tips to share?

* What were your top performing blog posts of the last year?

* What were your favourite blog posts from the last year?

* What projects do you have lined up for the year ahead? A list of unfinished craft projects, any DIY that needs to be done around the house?

* Looking a little way ahead, perhaps you have some Chinese New Year or Valentine's Day posts that you could start to write - recipes, crafts and so on.

I hope that I've given you some inspiration!

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy some of my other lists of blog post ideas:

Blog post ideas for Craft bloggers
Blog post ideas for Travel bloggers

Blog post ideas for Summer
Blog post ideas for Autumn

Image credit Ryan Pohanic via Unsplash

Friday, 27 October 2017

Collecting stickers

Last month I was playing the Minimalism Game again, and found myself hunting through forgotten cupboards and shelves on my discarding mission. As part of the process I unearthed a treasured possession - my old sticker album - and I thought I'd share some pictures with you! By co-incidence, on the same day over on Twitter I spotted a post from Bugs and Fishes sharing a sticker album that looks remarkably similar, so do head over there for more vintage sticker love!

Vintage school sticker collection album

You'll notice that I've written my class on the front of the album, because it was taken into school to swap with my friends. From memory the entire class joined in, and values were quickly assigned to stickers according to how rare and desirable they were. I was in Year 8 when I was sticker swapping, so around 12 to 13 years old - I wonder whether young teenagers today are still into swapping stickers, I'm not sure!

My vintage sticker collection in an album

My favourite stickers were probably the furry ones. When I bought my stickers they were sold on rolls, from which you could tear off individual perforated sheets. Each sheet measured around 5cm square and held four or five smaller stickers, or sometimes a sheet held one larger individual sticker. Usually each sheet on the roll was the same, but sometimes there were different stickers alternating. I seem to remember each sheet costing about 10p, perhaps 20p for the special ones, and I would buy several sheets at a time with my pocket money. 

My vintage sticker collection in an album

There was a particular gift shop in the town where my Grandma lived which was a great source of stickers, because they were different to the ones in my home town. When we went to visit I would try and make a special trip, and usually bought a couple of each sheet, one for me and one for swapping. Some of the girls brought in entire rolls of stickers that they had somehow acquired, so these were all shared around. You'll notice a few stickers above and below with Trolls on - another craze going on at the same time!

My vintage sticker collection in an album

My preferences changed at some point towards the foil ones. One a later page of my album I've stuck in some more recently that the children were given, and that I couldn't resist adding to my collection!

My vintage sticker collection in an album

When Harry was a toddler I ended up with lots of packets of emergency vehicle stickers. We used them for crafting when he was little, and I stuck some of my favourites into the album to keep as a memento. The stickers below are pearly ones that I was also rather fond of, and I think you'll see that overall I was particularly drawn towards cute animal stickers!

My vintage sticker collection in an album

The children love looking through my album, although I'm on edge when they have it, as it's rather delicate now. Mia has her own sticker album but it's not a very good quality one, I need to see if you can still buy something similar to these. Perhaps she can start her own sticker swapping craze at school!

Did you have one of these albums when you were at school? Are you like me and tempted to start up sticker collecting again?
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