Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Crafting for a Halloween Disney cruise

This year we are lucky enough to be enjoying a themed Disney Cruise - Halloween on the High Seas! These Halloween cruises take place each year across the Disney cruise ships over the Halloween period. There will various live shows and entertainment on board, along with some trick or treating, and although we've experienced a Disney themed Halloween before at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and at Disneyland Hong Kong for Halloween, this will be our first themed cruise.

I've written before about how much I have enjoyed crafting for this Disney cruise. Disney cruise line is definitely set well apart from other cruise lines when it comes to decorating stateroom doors or organising gift exchanges with your fellow passengers, and I've had a lot of fun entering into the spirit of it all. I've tried to make a special effort by putting a Halloween twist onto the things that I've made, and so I thought I'd share them here in once place.

Related post - Disney Halloween cruise pixie dust ideas

I'm planning to distribute lots of Pixie Dust on this cruise. Pixie Dust is a small gift which is given out to fellow cruisers without the expectation of receiving something in return. I started by making these little magnets. Each one measures about 6cm across and I came up with the designs myself. I used the Halloween on The High Seas logo and added the ship name and cruise month. They are printed on glossy paper, cut out and then laminated, with a small magnet glued to the back. I'll be going around with the children and sticking these on to random doors.

Disney Halloween cruise themed magnets for pixie dust

I used similar graphics to make these laminated Halloween on the High Seas bookmarks. Again they feature the logo, the ship name and dates. Then I punched a hole in the top and threaded through some orange and black ribbon, knotted in place and secured with a blob of glue. Some of these will be given as gifts to specific families, others will be handed out to random staterooms.

Disney Halloween cruise themed bookmarks

I've never really got into Disney pin trading, which is a very popular hobby. However on our last cruise I did take a few pins along and enjoyed swapping them with people that had created a pin trading board to hang outside their stateroom door. I was inspired to create my own and came up with this fabric Disney pin trading board. The fabric means that is quite light, so it should hang easily on the front of the door, even with the weight of the pins. I've added Halloween ribbons and pumpkins, but these could be removed if we are lucky enough to enjoy a different cruise in the future. Although the fabric isn't a Disney print, I think that the subdued tones match the Halloween theme quite well.

It works on an honesty system so I won't leave too many pins out at once and I may bring it in overnight - hopefully people will enter into the spirit of it fairly and won't take a pin without leaving one!

Fabric Disney pin trading board for outside stateroom

I used some similar fabric to make this pencil and treat holder. I stocked up on Halloween themed pencils in the sales last year, but the holder can also be used for lollipops, glow sticks, straws, or any kind of candy that is long and thin. I hope that people have fun choosing something to take!

Halloween themed pencil and treat holder

I can't wait until our cruise, and having all this crafting to keep me busy has certainly helped me to enjoy the long wait that we've had!

Related post - Crafting for a Disney cruise

Monday, 14 October 2019

Mini Hama bead sugar skull earrings

Mini Hama bead sugar skull earrings tutorial

I love working with mini Hama beads. The mini Hama beads are tiny, about a third the size of the standard beads, and they are placed onto specially sized boards. It's difficult to manipulate the beads with your fingers so I use tweezers to set them down into place - once you've got the hang of the technique you can work very quickly. The mini Hama beads are available in a huge range of colours, and you can use them to create some really intricate designs.

Here's how I used mini Hama beads to make some Sugar Skull earrings. This is the design that I used, once you've put the skull features in place you can use a range of different colours to complete the design.

Hama bead sugar skull design

When ironing mini Hama beads you need to take a little extra care as they melt very quickly. I use the iron on the lowest setting, and I don't hold the iron on the beads for very long. For this project you need to make sure that the hole at the top remains open so that you can push the earring pieces through.

Related post - Ironing tips for Hama beads

Adding earrings to mini Hama bead design

I turned the Hama bead sugar skulls into earrings by adding a simple earring hook. The ones that I use have a curved shape that fits perfectly into the top of the beads and holds it nicely in place.

Mini Hama bead Halloween earrings

If you want to use Hama beads for more Halloween crafting I have also published a round up of Hama bead Halloween project ideas.

You may also like these mini Hama bead projects:

Mini Hama bead decorative plant markers

Mini Hama bead Russian doll tiled picture

Mini Hama bead Russian doll picture

Friday, 11 October 2019

When the children start to go to bed later

Since the summer holidays there has been a change to our daily routine.

Since the children were babies we have always done our best to preserve our child-free evening time. From their first few months we've put them down in their own bedroom to sleep at around 7-7.30pm. I must confess that this idea was mainly prompted by that book about baby routines which I'm not going to mention, as it was not at all helpful for my mental health with small babies. But although it didn't work well when they were babies, by the time that Mia had reached her toddler years we did have a pretty good routine with both them fast asleep by 7.30pm or so and a whole evening ahead of ourselves.

But we always knew that it couldn't last forever. We started a new routine a few months back where we still put them to bed at that time and let them read in bed for a bit before they went to sleep, and that worked really well. The bedtime routine was fairly straightforward, because they knew that the quicker they said their goodnights and got ready for bed, the longer they would have to read.

Over the summer however they got into the habit of staying up later most nights. Sometimes they would have a movie night, sometimes they'd be just chilling out reading or watching videos. Now that they are older they are more pleasant and fun to be around in the evenings, and especially with them at school all day I'm not quite so desperate for my alone time.

For the time being we have a bedtime of around 8.30pm, but I can see that it won't be long before it becomes 9pm, then 9.30pm, and soon they'll be going to bed after we do! It does rather mean that our evenings of watching television together are becoming much less frequent. Quite a lot of what we watch is not at all suitable for little eyes and ears, and I need to start watching something early enough that I can not be too late to bed myself!

I'm not looking forward to the teenage years when I can see us having to facilitate their social lives by dropping and picking them both up throughout the evening!

Children sleeping in a tent

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Non-edible treats for Halloween trick or treaters

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

Halloween celebrations here in the UK seem to get bigger and bigger every year. When I was young the only people that went trick or treating were teenagers up to no good, but these days it's very common for parents to take their children trick or treating around the local streets. I live on an estate which over the last few years has become very well known locally as a great place to go trick or treating. Many people go to a great deal of effort to decorate their houses, and the trick or treaters are very respectful, making sure to only call at houses which are decorated and obviously open to visitors.

Not everyone wants to collect loads of sweets when they go out trick or treating though, and if you want to avoid giving sweets to children, or want to cater for children with allergies and dietary restrictions, it's nice to be able to offer something to trick or treaters that isn't sweets or candy. So I thought I'd hunt down some ideas for little gifts which you can hand out that are easy to get hold of and I think represent good value for money. They would also be great as party favours for a Halloween party.

I hope that you find some inspiration!

Gift bags

You might want to hand out gifts at a party, or present them in some kind of packaging. See through plastic bags are good because children and parents can easily see the contents, but if you want to cut down on the use of single use plastic you can also use paper bags - either Halloween themed or just a simple brown paper or stripy paper bag, maybe secured with a Halloween themed sticker.


I always like my children to receive stationery gifts, as they are useful and fun too!

Stickers and badges

Stickers can be handed out individually to children as a little extra gift, or you could give out entire sheets of Halloween themed stickers.

Light up toys

Trick or treating is more exciting when it's dark outside, and light up toys and accessories are a great way to be seen in the dark!

Costume accessories

Halloween themed accessories like rings and bracelets can be re-used year after year.


Of course I had to include some Halloween crafts in my ideas list! There are lots of multi-pack craft items that can be easily split up and handed out individually, like masks and puppets to colour or scratch art kits.


Finally children always love small toys, and they don't need to be Halloween themed. I gave out the padded Emoji Keyrings below as party bag gifts once and the children loved them, I still see them attached to bags around the school!

I hope that I've given you some ideas if you are planning party bags for a Halloween party or looking for something different to had out to the trick or treaters this year!

Related post - Simple Halloween party ideas for children

Monday, 7 October 2019

Sleeping under a mountain of teddies

It's not an understatement to say that Mia loves her teddies. Well, not just teddies, soft toys of any description in fact. She's had a few dolls over the years, but she has never really taken to them in the same way as she has something cuddly. In fact, we once bought her one of those fancy dolls that cries and wets itself, and she was just scared of it.

Unfortunately we've rather got in the habit of indulging her with her collecting habits. My husband in particular got into the routine of buying her a teddy every time we went somewhere, and she'd often come back from holiday with two or three new stuffed friends. Not to mention the excessive number of visits that we've made to Build a Bear over the last few years.

The good thing is that she genuinely does love and play with the vast majority of these stuffed creatures. Harry never showed much interest in soft animals (in fact I had a successful cull around the time that Mia was born). But since Mia has been old enough to play properly they still have some lovely games with them, and Harry has brought out several old teddies that have been promoted to constant bed companions.

They both spent quite a bit of time over the summer making an enormous family tree for their soft toys, working out which ones are related to which ones (sometimes a little improbably) and have come up with histories for them. Mia has even written a factual guide to her favourite 'snow white bear', with information about its habitat and preferences.

It was getting to the point where I could hardly find Mia in her bed at night, buried under teddies on all sides. As for changing the sheets, it became such a mission to move them all out of the way and then put them all back, without sending a few through the machine for an accidental bath, that it often put me off even trying.

Teddies in a pink teddy hammock

Things improved greatly when we bought this huge teddy hammock which fits neatly in the top corner of  her room, and although there's no way they will all fit there is a fair bit of space for her many favourites. She has a loft bed so they are still within easy reach - although I'm not quite sure how she sleeps at night with all those little faces staring at her!

Friday, 4 October 2019

My new glasses

I recently decided that it was time for an eye test, it had been a few years. A new branch of Specsavers has just opened in my local Sainsbury's along with lots of advertising for free eye tests, so I booked myself in to see how my glasses were doing.

I remember exactly when I bought my old glasses because it was just before Britmums 2013. They are the ones that I'm wearing in all my social media profile pictures, and were a bit of a change from the rimless glasses that I'd been happy with for a few years previously. I wasn't sure at first about the dark frames, but they definitely grew on me and I was very happy with them, so when my prescription barely changed at my last eye test I didn't bother replacing them.

Me wearing old fashioned glasses

But when I saw the optician this time, she commented almost immediately on how old my glasses were which surprised me, as I didn't actually think they were that old. We went through the test and discovered that my eyes have barely changed - one eye remains the same and the other has got so marginally better as to barely register - but she still wrote me a prescription for new glasses. I had in mind that I wanted some new prescription sunglasses anyway as part of their two for one offer, so I was happy to go along with getting some new ones, although it did feel a bit unnecessary.

But when I went out into the showroom to choose the new frames I could see why she thought I needed new glasses. It turns out that glasses fashion has changed quite a bit over the last few years, and mine were desperately out of date. Glasses are no longer subtle, like they were in the rimless days. They are now enormous and definitely shout 'look I'm wearing glasses'!

I spent a long time agonising, trying to find something a bit less obvious. I finally settled on a pair from the petite range which have a hint of purple to the frames, my favourite colour. The sunglasses were a much easier choice, as at least in that case bigger is definitely better if you want to be able to see in the sun!

I don't like taking selfies, but I don't think that the glasses look too bad! And at least I know that for the next few months at least my style matches the latest in glasses fashion!

Me wearing nice new glasses

And at least they aren't quite as big as the ones that I used to wear once upon a time...

Me wearing very old fashioned glasses

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Things I learnt during Scroll Free September

Scroll Free September is over for another year! And while I won't pretend that my life was completely scroll free for the entire month, I have definitely cut down on my scrolling a great deal, and it really made me notice and think about my habits.

Related post - Thoughts on scrolling

Here's what I learnt while taking part in Scroll Free September 2019:

* When you don't get sucked in to scrolling then you have more time in your day. It sounds obvious but I really noticed it. I found that at some times of day I was able to get on with other jobs instead of scrolling on my phone (for example while cooking, while the children shower and get ready for bed) and that then freed up my time later on.

* Also, sometimes it's nice to just sit and stare into space without needing a screen to keep your mind busy.

* If I can't physically see my phone then it's easy to forget about it.

* But if I don't know where my phone is or I've left it at the other side of the house I begin to feel anxious, especially during the school day, in case someone is trying to contact me (even though I know that I would hear it ringing and that my FitBit would buzz.)

* It's annoying when you are trying to talk with someone and they are on their phone, especially if you've set aside the time to talk and made an effort to keep your own phone put away. I don't want people, especially the children, to feel that they don't have my full attention, because if something is important to them then it should be important to me.

* Facebook - the less you use it, the less you miss it. If you don't post anything then you don't feel the urge to check for notifications. If you don't see the start of a thread then you don't need to keep checking for updates. It's easy to pop in a couple of times and catch up with the things that you want to see (as long as you can fight the urge to keep mindlessly scrolling!).

Having said all this though, I do appreciate having my phone and it does many things which are useful to me and enhance my life. I like to take photos of things, whether that's to remember a special moment or to photograph something for reference. I love the access to music that I have through my phone, especially on the boring school run. The shared shopping list app that I use is a fantastic help, and I enjoy using apps to track my fitness and weight.

So it definitely has a role to play in my daily life, it's just making sure that it remains a positive rather than negative influence, and Scroll Free September has definitely helped me to realise that.

Scroll Free September 2019 graphic
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