Every single year I aim to be more organised and actually get a diary before the year starts. This year I have achieved that aim thanks to my recent blogger’s night in. We were very kindly treated to our own personal planner from the lovely Sara who is the brains behind the planners.
I was able to personalise my planner to suit me, so I had a little think about what I wanted it to involve and how I wanted it to be laid out. Well of course I wanted my blog organisation to be featuring as well as personal and work commitments. I have noticed that I am more organised when I write things down, as life is so busy things can be forgotten so quickly.
Once I had designed my Front and Back covers with the personalisation I wanted, it was onto the detailing of the pages as this was one of the most important aspects for me.
There are a choice of four different layouts in the A5 planner that I have chosen. I could have chosen colums, rows to cover equal space over six days with the weekend together, rows to cover more space for the weekend and less for Mon – Thurs or equal sqaures. I chose the second option as looking at all the layouts this one would work best for me and my life.
Once you have chosen your layout, the top and bottom sections can be colour co-ordinated to your choosing, and the design along the top bar can be changed to suit as well. Mine has a turquoise theme running through it with birds.
The bottom section can include notes, to do, a small calendar of the whole month, ideas, and more. This is all to suit what you need. I chose to put a to do section and notes in the bottom of all mine, as this will be really useful for blogging ideas as they come to me.
Once the diary is complete, you can then add in what you would like at the back of the diary. An overview of this year and next perhaps? Or a map of the world? I have chosen lined paper with an overview of 2014 and 2015 for reference. There is plenty of lined paper included which is going to be really handy for jotting down notes, and things I need to remember. If an address book is more your thing then you can have this included.
Finally, you can complete your own personal details into the diary. There are some quirky ideas to add into the front cover should you lose your diary, so the finder can return to you. You can add as much or as little information as you like here.
All of the four sizes of diary will be secured with an elastic tie. This can be in a variety of colours, so I chose to have it in turquoise to match my pages. There is also a small ruler included as well which can also be colour co-ordinated.
The diary took just over a week to be delivered to me, and it was presented beautifully in a sturdy cardboard casing. My diary is just big enough for what I want for next year. I was very pleased to see it starts on 23rd December (my birthday) which means I can get planning before the year actually starts.
The front and back cover are protected with a plastic outer cover and the pages themselves are a very good quality thick paper which aren’t shiny.
I’m always excited by new stationary, and can’t wait to start adding notes and information. Would you like to win one yourself? If so please enter the rafflecopter below as Personal Planners have very kindly agreed to give one to one of my readers too.
The great UK weather changing from mild to cold what feels like every day, means my skin does suffer again the elements. As I have *ahem* gone into my thirties, I have really noticed that my face needs it’s double daily dose of moisturiser to stop it feeling tight and not altogether natural.
I’ve tried expensive face creams, cheaper versions and mid range value creams. I usually find the cheaper ones are as good at the expensive price tags.
Recently during my blogger’s night in, we were treated to a variety of creams, lotions and potions from various sources. Aldi very kindly sent each blogger attending a surprise beauty gift. There was something for all skin types, and hopefully all the ladies chose something to suit them.
There were serums, moisturisers, hand creams, face wipes, cotton buds and cotton wool pads. To be honest I hadn’t even realised that Aldi did a skin care range before these all arrived.
I chose the Lacura Anti Wrinkle serum as my product to take home with me. I have never used a serum before, instead just choosing to apply moisturiser. I also don’t normally choose anything with the word “wrinkle” in the product name, however I should be looking after my skin a lot more than I am, so I was looking forward to putting it to the test.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a serum, but reading the box it could be applied on it’s own, or before using normal daily moisturiser. I soon realised after the first time I applied the serum that a little bit goes a long way. The serum comes out of a pump action bottle and you really only need one pump to get good coverage on your face.
What I really liked about the product was the fragrance, It’s very fruity and refreshing which I find really wakes me up in the mornings. After using for a week, I did have a very close look to see if any lines have disappeared. I am lucky that I have quite good skin, but I suppose this is part of the bonus of using a product like this as it will hopefully help combat early signs of lines. To ne honest I can’t tell any difference in the appearance of my face, but I am happy to believe it’s combating under the surface.
The biggest shock of using this serum was the price. I deliberately hadn’t found out how much it cost, but I was really shocked to see that the 50ml bottle was just £3.49. It’s going to last me ages as well so great value for money. You could buy the serum, day moisturiser and night moisturiser in the same range for under £8. That’s such a bargain.
I will definitely be restocking at Aldi when I run out of creams.
Disclosure – All the bloggers received a free product from the Aldi Lacura range, but all opinions are my own
I love a good spot the difference puzzle and when we go out for dinner and 6yo gets a drawing sheet with spot the difference on, I’m always looking over her shoulder to see if I can find the elusive last difference that seems to trick her.
We were asked if we wanted to try University Games’ version of Spot the Difference, so how could I say no. This was going to be as much for me as for 6yo.
The game comes in a tin, which is not what I was expecting, but when I opened the tin, I saw the potential for playability. Inside the tin are 80 different challenges. The cards have either five or ten differences on them and are double-sided with one side being slightly more difficult than the other.
The cards are made to accommodate the two dry wipe pens that are included in the tin, so despite the game being suitable for 1-4 players, you will need more dry wipe pens if you want more than two of you to play at a time.
Keeping score in this game is determined by another spot the difference card. You can see this is marked as a score card. The winner is the person who wins five rounds first and manages to complete their score card.
We started off with the five difference cards to ease 6yo into it, but I needn’t have worried about the fact the game is suitable for ages 8 and over, as she was circling the differences quicker than me for most of the rounds.
We had soon moved onto the cards with ten differences on them, and the competition was heating up. Each round only takes a couple of minutes so this can be a quick game to complete if you’re short of time.
The dry wipe pens have a handy eraser on the end of them so there is no mess when it comes to removing the circles you’ve added on. I did notice whilst playing that some of the cards were more difficult than others, but this made it a nice challenge for the grown ups playing.
When we had completed the five rounds, and yes 6yo beat her Dad five games to four which she was very pleased about, she chose to continue playing alone.
As you can play on your own, it would take a while to get through all the cards before you memorised the where the differences were. Also as there’s no mess when playing, I think this would be a good game to take when travelling. It would be perfect on a plane journey a it’s not too big.
A big thumbs up from us.
Disclosure – we received the game free of charge, but all opinions are our own.
This year is the first year we have attempted Elf on a Shelf. 6yo had her elf far too soon, but on Saturday night I asked her to place him back on the shelf in the lounge aka the TV unit and she did.
Late last night I made a barbel from a spaghetti stick and stuck marshmallows on the end. Our elf is super fit as she had two weights on each end not just one!
This morning we came down stairs to find Elfie had worn herself out using the barbell and was having a rest on my laptop. I started laughing which alerted 6yo to come into the room. She thought I had put Elfie there, but I convinced her I hadn’t and said it looks like we have a cheeky elf!
6yo told Elfie off for being naughty in the night and put her back on the shelf! Result!
6yo has always been fairly quick at picking up new things, and has shown promise through learning, especially literacy. I wasn’t too worried about her numeracy as she was coasting through nicely. That is until times tables reared their ugly head. It’s almost like 6yo has a mental block when it comes to numbers now. Can’t! Wont! Shant!
I’ve quickly learnt that there’s no point pushing too much as her willingness to learn will not improve if she is determined to butt heads with me at every turn. I also don’t want to just leave her alone though and she becomes too far behind that she feels worse about it.
I’ve had a chat with her teacher and we’ve come up with a couple of different strategies to try, and one of them is to concentrate one some easy activities to gain her confidence before increasing the difficulty level to improve her knowledge.
Twinkl is a site full of teaching resources, aimed at teachers and parents alike. A lot on the site is free to download and use, but there are options to pay for additional subscriptions to gain access to extra resources.
Currently there are 102,000 resources available on the site which is an amazing number to be able to access. There is currently a free trial for schools to access the premium level of membership.
As a parent, I often browse the site looking for additional inspiration for home learning that 6yo has to complete each week. We try to stay within the learning theme at school, so this week she completed a word search about The Great Fire of London, as her topic this term is fire.
We have decided as a family, that 6yo will be encouraged to complete short work sheets or games each day just to increase confidence and knowledge. I have based her learning around numeracy and in particular times tables for this first couple of weeks, but there are so many options that we can move onto to make it fun and help her brain grow.
A worksheet like this only takes a few minutes to complete, but already by completing this one and a times table word search this week, 6yo realises that there is nothing too scary about doing extra work at home, nor that she is going to be tied to the table until the homework is completed.
It’s not just worksheets available on the site, there are wall displays, learning aids and so much more. I printed off a set of times tables for the dining room / playroom wall so she has a reference should she need it. I figure the more she looks at it, the more she’ll remember it, so we test each other on the more difficult times tables and she runs to the wall to check the answer.
We have a game to complete today – answer the times table questions and build the house from the printable template. I’m quite looking forward to that one.
What I also love about the site is that if you need any help there is a great forum available to members as well. Plenty of chance to ask questions from other members.
I think Twinkl is a great resource available, and even if you choose not to subscribe, there is plenty to keep you going from the free resources until you decide if a subscription is for you.
Disclosure – we were provided with a premium subscription for the purpose of this review but all opinions are our own
Each term at school there is a new topic. I assume this is the norm for most people, and this term at 6yo’s school it happens to be all about fire.
It started off with Bonfire night, and fireworks etc before moving onto the Great Fire of London. A couple of weeks ago she had a school trip to a local safety centre which in effect is a village inside a big warehouse where people can be guided around and visit lots of different scenarios from building site safety to road safety to walking through a house and seeing house safety.
She came home with a worksheet booklet that I set aside as said we would complete together. I forgot all about it until yesterday, so after school we went through the booklet together and it was a good opportunity for me to see what she would do should the awful happen.
Now 6yo does like to think she know everything about everything and doesn’t generally accept the help unless your name starts with “Teacher”, but it was good for me to quiz her about certain questions relating to safety in the home.
We talked about our escape route at home and she had to choose the order in which she would leave the house, dial 999 and shout in the worksheet.
I was impressed she had remembered what she was taught at the safety centre and school. I just hope she doesn’t ever have to put it into practice.
It was an eye opener I think for her to walk around the house and decide how many things in our home were a potential danger, and could catch fire. I don’t think she had realised that batteries could cause a fire, so I felt accomplished as a parent to be able to teach her something that she hadn’t learnt from “teacher”.
I think it’s so easy to go through day to day life and forget about teaching the simple things to children that really could be the most important life lessons to them.
Last weekend we had our blogger’s night in. We were very lucky to be provided with some very generous goody bags during the event. My love of cooking has been very excited when I saw so many different ingredients that I haven’t tried before, so I wanted to create a lovely meal using the ingredients provided to me during our event.
For the main meal, I have made a spinach curry provided by Tailor Spice, and accompanied it with rice from Tilda Rice.
I’ve never had a spinach based curry before, so was quite excited to try it out. The kit comes in easy to use pouches that open without scissors, is ready in around fifteen minutes if using meat, and has clear instructions in three steps.
I took the spice packet and put in a hot pan for twenty seconds to release the flavours before adding chopped up chicken (you can use any meat you like or a vegetarian option such as chick peas). After the meat had browned I added the base sauce which contained all the spices, and then finally adding the spinach based sauce and simmering until the meat was cooked through.
It really was as simple as that!
I served the curry with Tilda microwave rice. Ready in two minutes per pouch this made the perfect addition to this quick and easy curry. This rice is one of hubby’s favourites, and he was eager to try the new varieties that we haven’t bought before. I was pleased to see the rice didn’t stick together or clump after cooking, and two pouches went a long way to feeding three of us.
The flavours in the curry were strong, but yet the overall flavour wasn’t too spicy for 6yo to enjoy. Hubby thought his was lovely as he liked the slightly oily texture the curry had as he said it coated the rice really well. Personally I like my curry’s without the plentiful sauce, but it was a very nice dinner.
To accompany my curry, I chose to have a pomegranate and elderflower tonic water. Tonic water isn’t something I would have considered drinking a little while ago, but I tried it at the weekend, and would happily drink this on a night out. The flavour is subtle and slightly citrusy after taste which made the drink very refreshing. I didn’t try it with alcohol, but I imagine with some vodka it would work well.
Onto desert, which is almost my favourite thing. Soreen had very kindly provided us with a goody bag filled to the brim with Soreen goodies. It also included a recipe booklet and when flicking through, the flapjack recipe caught my eye immediately so I had to make them.
Taking rolled oats, butter, syrup and chopped up soreen loaf, I mixed all the ingredients together and cooked for around 15 minutes until the oats had a crispy top to them.
Once cooled, I melted Green and Black’s chocolate and layered over the top of the flapjack. After leaving overnight to set (this was very difficult), I cut into squares (well as much as the butterfly shaped mould would let me) and served up for desert this evening.
The flapjack has a lovely chewy texture to it, and a very chocolatey after taste thanks to the Green and Blacks chocolate. This went down well with everyone, so much so it’s all gone now, so I’ll have to make some more.
Disclosure – I was provided the food and drink items from the bloggers night in.
I don’t know about you, but I am really starting to think about what I still need to buy for friends and family this Christmas. Some people I find really easy to buy for and others I really struggle with. We have such a wide variety of age groups to buy for from babies through to a lot older.
When choosing gifts, I also want the recipient to appreciate what we give instead of them putting to the back of a cupboard, or thinking it’s not very good etc.
I have worked with Great Gizmo’s before, so I was really pleased to have the opportunity to do so again just before the busiest time of the year. There is a wide variety of gifts for children on the website from young to old, and I can always find something that will suit someone on my list.
6yo was really pleased to be the new owner of this snuggly polar bear soft toy. She loves her soft toys and always has at least three favourites at a time.
This little cutie is made by NICI and RRP’s for £25.99. He’s so soft and snuggly, and what I love about him is that he has a hood that you can take down and put back on.
6yo is always asking for key rings on her book bag, but I am reluctant to let her start the trend going and then her book bag gets overtaken by them. A couple of weeks ago however, she had to take her bike into school and we needed to store the bike lock key somewhere, so I let her take this cute plush owl key ring into school with the key on it so it wasn’t easy to lose.
This cute plush key ring is also made by NICI and RRP’s for £6.99.
My nephew is at an age where he loves magic tricks and science kits, so this Kidz Lab Magic Kit (£11.96) by 4M would be a great present idea for him.
We have had great fun testing out the tricks inside and learning with me and then playing tricks on Daddy. Some were more difficult than others for 6yo as her hands are a little small to hold a whole pack of cards for example, but it’s been fun learning.
I think the magic set is great value for money. There is plenty included in the kit and having a magic wand meant that 6yo could make her own magic tricks up without the additional props provided. She would have liked there to have been a top hat included though.
This cute little bag is the perfect size for nursery or pre school, and we know just the person who is going to love it. With two handles at the top, it’s got good grip for small hands to carry around. From Lil’ Pet Pals this bag is £13.95.
6yo loved wooden toys when she was younger, and this wooden puzzle brings in some educational value as well as play without the child realising it. From Plan this puzzle will set you back £17.95 and is suitable for ages two upwards. 6yo is too old for this now, but we have a friend’s little girl who is going to love it. It has very chunky pieces and the pieces slot together well.
If any of the above toys have sparked your imagination, or you’ve thought they look nice, please do take a look at www.greatgizmos.co.uk for loads more ideas and inspiration. Disclosure – we received the selection of toys above for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are our own
This is “Elfie”. She came to live with us a little earlier than planned in time for December 1st this year as I forgot to put the shopping bags away quick enough when she came home from a recent shopping trip with me.
I had planned to do “Elf of the shelf” this year, as I think 6yo is a great age for it. If you’ve never heard of Elf on the shelf, then basically the elf is sent to your home from the North Pole to check on the children before Christmas Day. The elf doesn’t move and sits on a shelf keeping an eye on the children, but as soon as everyone goes to sleep, the elf gets up to naughty tricks, and the children find the elf in the morning.
There is a massive amount of ideas you can use with your elf, such as cooking, cleaning, watching TV, under the bed, in a mess in the kitchen. The list goes on and you are only limited by your imagination.
I have a few ideas for this year, but I have also been browsing Pinterest for more ideas and inspiration. I can’t wait to get started!
As 6yo found Elfie the day she arrived in our house, I had to quickly explain that she (it’s always a she) arrived early, and that 6yo could look after her until December, but then she had to take her place on the shelf to do Santa’s work and keep an eye out. I think she has accepted that, but as she loves her soft toys, she has kidnapped the elf for her room at the mo, so she is currently living in the doll’s house which is quite a nice idea.
Watch out to see what Elfie gets up to from Sunday.