Friday 29 December 2017

2016 unfinished craft projects - an update!

Way back in December last year I wrote a blog post with a list of my unfinished craft projects, and the intention of ticking a few of them off throughout the year. As this year draws to a close I thought I'd post a little update to see how I got on!

Sky Blanket - This was my daily craft project for 2016, and I finished it pretty much on schedule! You can read all about it here - My completed crochet Sky Blanket. The daily rows were finished at the end of the year, then it took me a few weeks to finish it off with the border. It really is a massive blanket and has proven to be very snuggly this winter.

Completed Sky Blanket

Crochet Pink Bunting - I received this Attic 24 bunting kit for Christmas a couple of years ago but it had sat on my to do list for far too long. In the end it was a very quick project to finish, and you can read all about it here - My Attic 24 summer bunting. It is hanging up above Mia's bed and she loves it.
Attic 24 summer bunting kit

The leftover yarn from the bunting led on to another bonus project - a pink granny square blanket which I crocheted for Mia. I alternated rows of the pinks with some white yarn that was left over from the Sky Blanket. It worked up really quickly into a lovely blanket that she keeps on her bed and which matches the bunting nicely.

Pink granny square crochet blanket

Hexagon knitted blanket - this was a blanket that I started when I really wanted to learn to crochet but just couldn't get the hang of it. Now that I can at least do simple crochet I'm realistically not going to get to finishing this blanket, also I used up all the yarn I'd put aside for it in my other granny square blanket. So I have about thirty small knitted hexagons and I'm trying to think of a way that I can use them, perhaps for a cushion cover or bag.

Mini Hama bead cats - I love working with mini Hama beads, and I was given a lovely kit to make two sweet little kittens. I finally got on and finished it and I love the finished pieces!

Mini Hama beads kitten kit

Poppy mosaic kit - This is a matching kit to my sunflower mosaic kit and had been sitting around for ages. And I actually finished it a couple of months back! But unfortunately the mortar that I used all went a bit crumbly and I was too scared to remove it from the mould, instead it is sitting in the garage 'setting'. At some point I need to be brave and go and see how it's getting on and whether it can be rescued!

Wooden box and Ladybird pictures - Still not got to this one, the idea was to use some pictures from a falling apart Ladybird book to decorate a wooden box. I've filled up the box but it remains picture free!

Ikea frame - I picked up a Ribba box frame on a trip to Ikea and I have several ideas, perhaps using it to hold tickets and mementoes, something like this keepsake box. Or else filling it with seashells and sea glass. It's currently sitting on the shelf above my desk, empty and mocking me!

Empty Ribba frame from Ikea

I think I've done pretty well! As well as ticking quite a few things off I also managed a whole bonus blanket! There are still a few things to carry over to next year and I have plenty more ideas to add to the list, so look out for a post shortly with some of my crafty plans for 2018!

Wednesday 20 December 2017

The 2017 Gingerbread Houses

This year the children broke up for the Christmas holidays well before Christmas - ten whole days in fact! It's been really nice, we've spent some time with family and had the chance for a bit of a tidy up and just general chilling out at home with Lego and Minecraft.

Yesterday we continued a tradition which is now in its sixth year and made our gingerbread houses. As always I used this recipe - How to make a gingerbread house - which I've adapted slightly to reduce the quantities of the melted ingredients. I also only use golden syrup instead of treacle, it seems to work out fine. That recipe also comes with a printable template, and if you reduce the size to 75% then there will be enough dough to make two smaller houses with a bit extra for some extra biscuits.

I always make the pieces the day before so that they have time to harden up a little bit before assembling the houses. This year I didn't bother with the boiled sweets for the windows as we never eat the ones that are left over. Here are the pieces all ready to go!

Gingerbread house pieces ready to assemble

I use Royal Icing to stick the pieces together and I just use the powder that you add water to, usually the Tate and Lyle one. I normally use an Icing Syringe set (affiliate link) which makes it really easy to get the icing where it needs to go and looking neat, it's also good for icing on some extra decorations if you have some spare icing. Unfortunately I was using up some Royal Icing from last year which had gone a bit lumpy and it kept clogging the syringe so I had to do my best with a knife! Then I just put out lots of different sweets and let the children loose.

Boy decorating a gingerbread house

Harry spent a lot of time planning the placement of his sweets and thinking about making it look like a real house.

Girl decorating a gingerbread house

Mia used her sweets to make a face on each side of the roof, and was most interested in making sure that there were some sweets left over that she could make a start on straightaway!

Here are the finished houses for this year!

Children holding their finished gingerbread houses

I'll leave them out for us to admire until tomorrow, then I'll break them up and put the pieces into cake tins for us to munch on. I shouldn't think that they will last very long - I'll be very surprised if there is any left for Christmas day!

I made our first gingerbread house back in 2012, and you can read about all of them here - Our yearly gingerbread houses.

Post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

Monday 18 December 2017

Visiting Singapore with the family

Visiting Singapore with the family and young children

We've recently returned from a holiday to Asia, during which we spent a week in Singapore. My husband and I visited Singapore ten years ago, and while we were there I spent a great deal of time hoping that one day I'd be able to return with children, as I saw so many things that I knew a child would love. So it was a wonderful experience for me to share it with the children. It was also amazing just how much Singapore had changed in ten years, for much of the time I couldn't even recognise it! So here are some of our favourite attractions in Singapore for young children.

Sentosa Island

There is so much to do on Sentosa Island that you could spend days here. We gave the theme parks a miss as we had spent two days at Hong Kong Disneyland the week before, and instead concentrated on some of the smaller attractions. We bought a ticket which enabled us to visit five attractions and managed to squeeze them all into one day. We visited the S.E.A. Aquarium (which counts as two visits), the Trick Eye Museum, the Merlion and KidZania Singapore.

The children loved all the places that we visited. The Trick Eye Museum was a lot of fun, the Aquarium was amazing and we chose the Merlion because it was the one thing that we could remember from our previous visit, fortunately the children enjoyed it too!

Trick Eye Museum, Sentosa, Singapore

Their favourite attraction was KidZania, and our ticket allowed us to spend two hours there. We went right at the end of the day on a weekday in term time. During the day it had been very busy with school groups, but later on they had all gone and it was almost empty. The children were able to try out lots of different things without queuing, even flying the plane which is the most popular activity!

KidZania Singapore

You can see a little video of our day at Sentosa Island here and all the fun that we had!

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari

Singapore Zoo was another place that we had fond memories of from our first visit, and we weren't disappointed. Singapore Zoo really is fabulous, the animal enclosures are so well designed that you really feel as though you are amongst the animals.

Singapore Zoo and Night Safari

The Night Safari is a separate zoo that opens after sunset, and after taking a guided tram ride around the zoo you can follow a series of walking tours to see the animals and how they behave after dark. It's an amazing experience, and you can see a video of our day at the zoo below.

The Science Centre Singapore

We spent a whole day at the Science Centre Singapore and there was so much to do. As well as the science museum itself there is also the indoor Snow Dome and Kids Stop, a brilliant indoor play centre for young children.

Singapore Science Centre

You can see a video showing some of our highlights below:

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is a brilliant place to visit. During the day you can explore the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, conservatories filled with all sorts of plants from around the world. The Supertrees are enormous tree sculptures which come alive at night in the Garden Rhapsody light and sound show, and while you pay to enter the conservatories you can walk around the rest of the area for free, meaning you can come back at different times of the day to enjoy it fully.

Singapore city view by night

The domes are packed with interesting sights. The Flower Dome was all decorated for Halloween when we visited, and they were just starting to change into the Christmas displays. We timed our visit to the Cloud Forest with the 'misting' which takes place every couple of hours, make sure that you are at the very top when it starts and then and you can walk down through the clouds.

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

There is a brilliant playground outside with lots of play equipment and also a massive water play area and seating for picnics, we spent ages here!

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, water play area

You can see a video of our visit here, with a good look inside both conservatories:

Little India and Chinatown

For a flavour of some of the different cultures that make up Singapore, visiting Little India and Chinatown is a must.

Little India, Singapore

There are several large temples within easy walking distance of each other, including the Buddha Tooth Temple and the Sri Mariamman Temple, so you can spend a few hours exploring and experiencing some really beautiful and interesting sights. The children have visited temples in the UK but it really was quite a different experienc efor them and they found it all fascinating. There are also lots of markets to look around selling both familiar and unfamiliar things, definitely worth a visit.

Temple in Singapore

Singapore Botanic Gardens

The Botanic Gardens are huge, so if you are visiting with children it's best to aim for the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden, where we spent most of our time. There are play areas, a maze, a pond with terrapins and lots to see and do. It's also free to visit - bonus!

Botanic Gardens, Singapore

Art and Science Museum

We visited the Art and Science Museum on our final day before a late flight and it was perfect. On the day that we visited children were free which did make it better value, as the exhibition when we visited - Future World - was very much aimed at children. There were a series of interactive art installations - a room full of bean bags and surrounded with screens showing crashing waves, a room with projections that made you feel like you were flying, an enclosure filled with huge light up bouncy balls. There was a brilliant area where you could design your own buildings and vehicles, sea creatures and other animals, then scan them into a computer to watch them appear projected onto the walls as part of a city or seascape, the children spent ages here. Then they could take their drawings and have them turned into a printable paper craft for them to assemble at home.

Art and Science Museum, Singapore

The Pinnacle@Duxton

There are several places that you can visit for high rise views across the city, but if you are looking for a cheaper and much less touristy option I can recommend The Pinnacle @ Duxton. It's a residential complex formed of seven towers, and the 50th storey sky bridge is open to both residents and the public. You just need to take your EZ Link card and some $6 cash per person to the person at the front desk and they will validate the ticket so that you can go through the gate at the top of the lift.

Pinnacle Tower, Singapore

There is a daily limit to the number of people that can go up but it's not that popular, and when we visited we only saw one other couple. You can walk all the way across the top of the buildings and see across from each side. It's lovely - quiet and peaceful with some nice places to sit and enjoy the views. Just make sure you come back down the way you went in!

View from Pinnacle Tower, Singapore

Spectra Light and Water Show at the Marina Bay Sands

This is a nightly free show that takes place just outside the amazing Marina Bay Sands Hotel. There are two or three shows daily, and a large and comfortable seating area for viewing. The show is a symphony of music, water and light, with projections across jets of water, and it really is fantastic. We watched it several times!

Saturday 16 December 2017

Minecraft Christmas baubles with Hama beads

I love making Christmas decorations, and one way to persuade the children to do some crafting with me is if I can give it a Minecraft theme! So we sat down to make some Minecraft themed Hama bead baubles for the Christmas tree.

How to make Minecraft Hama bead baubles

These Hama bead baubles are made using the Hama bead large square pegboard (affiliate link). I do have several circular pegboards, but I thought that using the square board would be easier to make the blocky characters. I made six baubles - a Creeper, a Sheep, a Pig, Steve, an Enderman and a Skeleton. It's easy to make all different characters, I found that you just need to work out the best place to put the eyes and then you can work from there.

Minecraft Christmas decorations with Hama beads

Once ironed I used some coloured string to make a hanging loop for the bauble. You should be able to use a needle to thread the string through a couple of the holes in the top of your design, and then they are ready to be hung on the tree!

Minecraft Christmas decorations on the tree

After Hama bead designs have been ironed I always place them underneath something heavy while they cool so that they remain flat. You can read some more ironing tips for Hama beads here.

How to make Minecraft Hama bead Christmas baubles

If you are looking for more Christmas crafts using Hama beads you can find my Christmas Hama bead crafts round up here.

And if you enjoy crafting with Hama beads, you can find all my Hama bead crafts here

Thursday 14 December 2017

Some Minecraft challenges for children this Christmas

Since my children were introduced to Minecraft a couple of years ago it has quickly become their absolute favourite activity. They play separately and together, and I'm always impressed with the complicated things that they build. With the Christmas holidays approaching I'm sure that their Minecraft time will increase, and they helped me to put together this list of Christmas related Minecraft builds and challenges in case there are any other Minecraft loving children looking for inspiration!

Christmas themed Minecraft challenges for children

* If you have a world in Minecraft that you add to then decorate it for the holidays. Make a Christmas tree or two and string up decorations, add wreaths to the front doors, piles of presents under trees.

* Build a full size Gingerbread House and decorate it both inside and outside.

* Build a giant snowman, don't forget to add a hat, scarf and gloves. You could even build a family of snowmen!

* Make a Christmas themed train or sleigh ride. Theme along the track with snowy decorations, a Christmas village, a forest of Christmas trees. Maybe even Father Christmas in his grotto at the end!

* Build a Christmas village with lots of little decorated huts and Christmas trees
* Recreate a Christmas market with lots of different stalls, an ice rink, a seating area for food and drink and maybe a ride or two.

* Design some snowflakes, you could have a go at some really large, intricate ones.

* Build Santa's workshop - a factory for making the toys, accommodation for the elves, a shed to keep the sleigh, stables for the reindeer and so on.

* Build a huge Christmas tree with tinsel, lights, baubles and other decorations, and don't forget a huge pile of presents to go underneath.

* Build a winter wonderland through the forest.

* Try some pixel art with some huge Christmas themed designs, maybe some of your favourite Minecraft characters with a festive twist like a Santa hat.

* Build a fireplace for Father Christmas to come down, don't forget to add stockings.

* Build a ski slope, you could also add a lift to take skiers to the top and chalets.

* Build an igloo, experiment with different shapes and designs.

Happy Christmas Minecraft-ing!

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Review - Snow White pantomime at the Pavilion Theatre, Worthing

Last night we were invited to the Pavilion Theatre in Worthing to see this year's pantomime - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The pantomime stars Chesney Hawkes, with CBeebies Swashbuckle double act Joseph Elliot and Richard David-Caine, and joined by Cassie Compton as Snow White and Niki Evans as the Wicked Queen.

Snow White pantomime at Worthing Theatres with Chesney Hawkes
Photo credit - Simon: Vervate Photography

We had a great night, and once again, Worthing Theatres put on a fabulous show. The singing was brilliant with some fab music choices, the dancing was perfect and the casting was spot on.

The children found the entire show hilarious, in fact at one point I thought that Harry was going to fall of his seat as he was laughing so much! He loved both the jokes and at the slapstick comedy. Mia's favourite part was the classic messy baking scene with plenty of water pistol action that sent Harry hiding under his seat! Mia also loved the fairy, and they both got really involved with the audience participation, booing and hissing along. There was plenty of humour for the adults too, which of course goes straight over the heads of the children watching. We all had a great night and I'd definitely recommend it!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Worthing Theatres
Photo credit - Simon: Vervate Photography

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs runs from Friday 1 December 2017 until Monday 1 January 2018 with two showings per day and three on Christmas Eve. To book tickets you can call the Box Office on 01903 206 206 or visit Worthing Theatres.

We received complimentary tickets to the pantomime in exchange for a review. Photo credit - Simon: Vervate Photography

Monday 11 December 2017

Things that I love about Christmas

Things that I love about Christmas

I love this time of year, especially these last few days when the children have finished school, I've finished the shopping, presents and cards have been delivered, and most of the other preparation is done. So I thought I'd write a nice festive post with all the things that I love about Christmas!

Decorations - I love having the decorations up in the house. We have a gorgeous artificial tree, and the corner where it sits always looks so empty and bare the rest of the year. The mantlepiece looks much prettier with our homemade decorations on, and the banisters are the perfect place to display Christmas cards.

Fairy lights - It's so much nicer to sit and watch television in the evening bathed in a soft twinkly glow.

The Elf on the Shelf - I know, I know, he's not for everyone, but my children absolutely love getting up in the morning to see what the elves have been up to - even if all they've done is moved from one side of the room to the other. However I don't make a big thing about the children being spied on, and I don't share any photos to social media - it's just a bit of fun for the children!

New traditions - Although most people celebrate Christmas all families have their own way of doing things, and it can take a few years to work out your own traditions. For example - presents before or after breakfast? Does everyone sedately open present at a time, or do you go for a massive paper flinging frenzy? All food cooked from scratch or pre-prepared? It's nice when you've developed familiar routines that work for your family and you can start your own traditions.

The Gingerbread House - I'm not sure what inspired me to make my first gingerbread house (I suspect Pinterest) but since 2012 we've made them every year. We started off with one large house, then more recently I make two smaller houses for the children to decorate. I've found a recipe that works well and all sticks together nicely (you can read about how I make our gingerbread houses here) so they are easy to make and the children have a lot of fun with them.

Christmas music - Christmas has definitely begun when you hear Fairytale of New York on the radio! We always have our Spotify Christmas playlist on when we decorate the tree, when we open the presents, when we eat our Christmas dinner and whenever we are doing anything festive. I also love singing Christmas carols at the school carol service and on the village green on Christmas Eve.

The Nativity play - This year was probably our last traditional Nativity play, as the school have a carol service instead from Year 3. I've loved watching them over the years.

Christmas food - I must admit that we've already made an excellent start on the Christmas chocolates (there's generally a box open throughout December) and I do love a mince pie or two. We don't have a massive traditional Christmas dinner, but we do buy special food like cheeses and crackers and I love roasted vegetables with different sauces.

Finally, I think that my favourite thing about Christmas is all the memories from past Christmases. I have had so many happy times at Christmas in my life and it's lovely to have the memories triggered, whether by a particular song or carol, going to a certain place or eating a particular food.

What are your favourite things about Christmas?

Photo credit Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Sunday 10 December 2017

Free printable Christmas resources from Mrs Mactivity

If you are looking for some festive activities to keep the children entertained in the run up to Christmas, I have some lovely free Christmas printables to share with you from Mrs Mactivity. 

This gorgeous printable Christmas bunting looks so bright and colourful and makes a lovely, simple Christmas decoration for the home or classroom.

Mrs Mactivity printable coloured Christmas bunting

I have it hanging above the fireplace in our living room and it looks so cheery and festive. You can also print the bunting out in black and white so that children can colour it in themselves, and it would look fab embellished with glitter or sequins.

Mrs Mactivity printable coloured Christmas bunting

Mia really loved the selection of fun Christmas colouring sheets with tracing words. Her favourite was the angel, and you can choose from lots more like a wreath and an elf. They are a lovely quiet activity for young children to keep them busy while you are getting on with the Christmas preparations.

Mrs Mactivity free Christmas worksheet with word tracing

Finally I really love this Advent Calendar printable. The pictures are very sweet and I can imagine using this resource in lots of ways - whether to make your own Advent Calendar or as a daily colouring activity. You could also cut out all the individual pictures and use them to make decorations or Christmas cards.

Mrs Mactivity free printable Christmas resources

To get your hands on these free resources, just visit the Mrs Mactivity Facebook page and leave a comment on the ones that you fancy, there are lots to see, and more are being added all the time. Have fun!

Friday 8 December 2017

Visiting Hong Kong with the family

Best attractions in Hong Kong for families

Hong Kong may not be the first place that springs to mind when you are contemplating a family holiday, but having just return from a fab holiday to Asia with a week in Hong Kong and a week in Singapore, I thought I'd share some of the great attractions in Hong Kong that we enjoyed with our children. I've made a little video of our travels to Hong Kong too, which you can see at the bottom of the post!

Disneyland Hong Kong

I must admit that Disneyland Hong Kong was one of the main reasons that we chose to visit Hong Kong. We are big Disney fans and so we were confident that we would enjoy a visit, we are also quite proficient when it comes to visiting Disney parks, and we were interested to see the similarities and differences. Hong Kong Disneyland didn't disappoint. It's the smallest Disney park and there's only the one park on site. We spent two days there and rode all our favourite rides several times, as well as seeing the parades, shows and fireworks. It is easy to get to on the MTR, and the last stop is a dedicated MTR train to Disneyland which is really fun, it has Mickey Mouse shaped windows, Mickey Mouse shaped straps to hang on to, and little Disney statues as decorations.

We visited in late October, half-term holiday for us but term time in Hong Kong, so the park was fairly quiet, and we were also able to enjoy the Halloween decorations and festivities. One thing to note was that only a couple of the rides use fast track and the opening hours were quite short. It was open from 10am until 8pm, but many of the rides were only open from 11am until 7pm. This wasn't a problem for us but might be worth considering if you are planning a visit at a busy time.

For me it was the perfect Disney park - lovely warm sunny weather but not too hot, small in scale so not too much walking, a good mix of rides and attractions, and not too busy. All the cast members were super friendly and had free stickers to hand out to the children, there were a couple of excellent rides that were new to us like the Iron Man Experience and Mystic Manor, and lots of familiarity too.

Hong Kong Disneyland castle

Ngong Ping 360

The Ngong Ping 360 is a cable car that takes you to Ngong Ping village, situated on Lantau Island. There are other ways of reaching the village but we loved going up in the cable car. We found an offer on the main website and also on Klook where you can travel in one direction on a Crystal glass bottomed cabin which was fantastic. Once you are at the village there are lots of fun attractions. We climbed up to the Big Buddha statue, looked around the monastery, and went for a short walk out to the Wisdom Path. There were also lots of little shops to look around, it was a really lovely place to visit.

Hong Kong Ngong Ping 360 cable car

Victoria Peak and The Peak Tram

On our first day in Hong Kong we took the Peak Tram up to Victoria Peak for amazing views across Hong Kong. It was a Sunday and because it was our first day we didn't rush to get going in the morning, with hindsight we should have arrived first thing as it was quite busy and we did have to queue for quite a while. It's a lovely trip up to the peak and then you can take a walk to various viewing points or do a circular walk around the peak. There's a shopping centre at the top with several things to do as well as shops and restaurants.

Hong Kong view from The Peak

Hong Kong Park

Hong Kong Park is located at the bottom station of the Peak Tram, so it's easy to combine a visit. It's free to enter and there are some lovely playgrounds for children. We also spent quite a bit of time in the Aviary which is beautifully set out with lots of interesting birds and other wildlife to look for.

Hong Kong Science Museum

We always visit a science museum if there's one available, and the Hong Kong Science Museum didn't disappoint. The centerpiece is the Energy Machine which is like a giant marble run, the largest machine of its kind in the world. It runs every couple of hours during the day and is fascinating to watch. We visited on a Wednesday when entry was free and it was very quiet.

Hong Kong Science Museum

Hong Kong Museum of History

The Hong Kong Museum of History is located next to the Science Museum and was also free on Wednesday when we visited. It's a museum which takes you through the history of Hong Kong right up until the present day and was very informative. It was a good mix of information and interesting displays for the children, and we all learned a great deal.

Hong Kong History Museum

The Star Ferry

A ride on the Star Ferry is a great way to see the harbour from another angle as you travel from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and back. It's quite a short ride but definitely a more interesting way to get around.

A Symphony of Lights Harbour Show

The Symphony of Lights harbour show takes place each night, it takes place at 8pm and the narration is in English on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We watched from just outside the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and there was plenty of room to sit and enjoy.

Shopping in the markets

We spent quite a bit of time wandering around the markets, we always felt safe even in the evening. We found the prices very reasonable and it was quite easy to haggle. I bought sets of lovely embroidered purses, the children bought souvenirs like magnets, fans, keyrings and fidget spinners. The photograph below was taken in Ngong Ping village, which again was very reasonably priced for souvenirs.

Hong Kong shopping at Ngong Ping village

I hope I've inspired you to think about a holiday to Hong Kong with the family, we had such a great time and I'd really recommend it! 

I made a little video which includes all of these attractions here:

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Christmas gifts for children who love to travel

As a family we love to travel, and I'd like to think that we manage travelling with children fairly successfully! With Christmas coming up I thought I'd put together a little gift guide of bits and pieces that would be brilliant gifts for any adventurous children that are on your shopping list. They are all things that I've chosen myself, and in most cases they are things that we already own and I can recommend personally. Happy browsing!

Christmas gifts for children who love to travel

For children that want to carry their own essentials

Trunki ride on suitcase - Our children love their Trunkis, and while I don't find them very practical for travelling on a plane (although they are fab for the airport) they are great for when travelling by car and the children love the responsibility of doing their own packing.

Pull along suitcase - A small pull along suitcase is very practical for older children, and I love this one that has a little seat belt on the front for a favourite teddy or doll.

Small rucksack - A small rucksack is perfect for hand luggage on the plane. Choose one with a zip so that you can keep everything safely inside, and small pockets on the outside are handy for frequently required items.

Bum Bag - Maybe not as fashionable as they once were, but a bum bag is brilliant for children to carry a few essentials out with them on a day trip - like some money, a phone or a snack - without having to worry about carrying a larger rucksack. Especially great for theme parks where you don't want to leave a bag in a locker.

Keeping children entertained while on the move

Kids Headphones - If your children will be using tablets or other electronic devices in a public place then you need some headphones. We've been using these ones for a few years now and they work brilliantly.

Pencil and Paper Games book - There are lots of different pen and paper books out there but I particularly love this one as it's a really good mixture of the classics and some new games. The games are played on tear out sheets, and there are plenty of pages. The games are also easy to replicate yourself on some blank paper.

Dobble - Card games are great for travel, and Dobble is particularly good as it appeals to both children and adults.

Travel 4 in a Row - Travel board games can be tricky as they sometimes have lots of small parts which can be difficult to keep track of, especially if you are trying to play in a car or airplane. It's worth looking for magnetic versions, or one like this 4 in a Row game where all the pieces can be kept reasonably contained.

Stocking fillers for travelling children - small yet useful

Small carabiners - These are brilliant for attaching things together so that they don't get lost. I recently used some for attaching neck pillows to rucksacks, they are also great for attaching teddies if they have a label loop, or holding some types of water bottle.

Zippable plastic wallets - I give each child a small zippable folder to collect leaflets, postcards and other souvenirs. I also use them to corral pens, crayons and scrap paper.

Home d├ęcor for travellers

Large World Map - We have a large map poster up on the wall and it's great for helping the children to understand where we are in relation to the rest of the world and to see where we will be travelling.

Scratch World Map - There are various ways that you can track your travels, you could stick a pin in a map or you could try a scratch off world map to mark where you have been.

Illuminated Globe - A globe makes a lovely gift for a child who wants to learn about the world, it's a much better visual reference than a flat map and there are all sorts of different types available to suit the age of your child.

My Little Adventure bedding set - I love this bedding set which is decorated with the countries of the world.

Photo credit Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Monday 4 December 2017

December - Lately I've been...

The year is drawing to a close, and it's such a busy time of year. This first full week of December always seems to be when everything collides, both at home and at school, and I spend most of my time out and about in the cold ferrying children about and making sure that everyone is where they need to be. I can't wait until the end of term when we can all hunker down at home for a couple of weeks! So here's what I've been up to lately:

Thinking about

I'm enjoying remembering our wonderful holiday last month, and I've been busy putting together some themed videos about the places that we visited. Although I've been putting them up on YouTube to share, they are really just for us to look back on in years to come.

I'm also planning some projects for the new year. Two years ago I worked on my daily crochet Sky Blanket, then this year I've been taking video each day so that I can compile a 'year in seconds' video. This has been quite stressful to be honest as it has involved remembering to take the video every day - at least with the Sky Blanket I could catch up when I missed a day! So I'm trying to come up with a yearly project for next year that is quite flexible. I put together some ideas for a long term craft project last year, or I might try and work on one different craft project each month, I have a few kits ready to work on.


I seem to have been very busy this month, but I've found the time to make a start on my Cross Stitch Map (affiliate link). I decided to start with Australia as that's my favourite country and it's a nice big one. The kit only came with just enough green to fill in Australia, so I've decided that I'm going to use green for all the countries that I've visited, but using different shades for each one. Luckily I have quite a big stash of embroidery silks, so I should have enough to keep me going! I used yellow to make stars on the cities that we've visited, and I left Tasmania blank as we've not been there yet. I'm not sure where to work on next, I might make a start on Europe.

Cross stitch map with Australia completed

I've also been making a start on the Christmas crafting with these Christmas paper craft printables from Twinkl, and I've brought down the box of Christmas crafting bits and pieces so that we can all make some festive decorations together.


It's been a busy month for watching! At the cinema we went to watch Thor: Ragnarok which I enjoyed very much. At home I'm working my way through the latest season of Outlander which I much prefer to the last season. Then last week we went to watch The Killers at the O2 which was awesome, a really great show.


Oh, far too many biscuits as usual! And the Christmas chocolate boxes are already being worked through. My intentions to try and cut down a bit before Christmas haven't really worked, so I guess that's something to save until January now. One thing that I've not had yet is a mince pie, I'm the only one that likes them so if I buy a box I have to eat them all...I'm trying to hold back!

Travelling to

Since our big holiday last month we've been enjoying some time at home and not moving very far at all! We will be travelling up to Warwick to visit family before Christmas and we'll be going along to the Carols at Warwick Castle event with friends, so that should be lovely and festive.


I really enjoyed reading The Year of Living Danishly (affiliate link) by Helen Russell all about her experiences of moving to Denmark, lots of humour, and interesting snippets about Danish daily life. I've also just finished The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k (affiliate link) which was quite a refreshing read, and as well as helping me to think about the things that don't matter it's also encouraged me to spend my time doing and thinking about the things that do matter. I have a couple more books from my birthday stash to get to, next up will be The Book of Dust - as soon as Harry has finished it!

Books I received for my birthday


At the moment I'm trying to get as much blog and social media stuff out of the way as I can so that I can have a break over Christmas. I love having my editorial calendar all filled up, even if the posts aren't quite written yet at least I know what I need to do! (If you are working on a Christmas blog schedule you might like this list of Christmas blog post ideas!)

Luckily I don't have to get too stressed about buying for Christmas as our family is quite small and easy to sort out, it's just a case of remembering everything and getting it all wrapped. I've not started the Christmas cards yet so that's something that I need to get on with, and I still need a few little bits but I'm almost there.

Looking forward to

I'm very much looking forward to the end of term, even though it comes quite early for us on the 15th December. I love those days around Christmas when there is nothing to do apart from sit around and eat nice food, especially now that the children are that bit older and don't require quite as much entertaining and supervision.

What have you been up to lately?

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