Project 365 – Week 52

Well, somehow I’ve done it and made the whole year. So let’s get this second-to-last week in.

Sunday 20th December. Work is over, school is over, what better thing to do than gatecrash your daughter’s best friends’ birthday party to watch Star Wars – The Force Awakens, right? (the gatecrashing bit is not entirely correct, as we were okay to go, but there was NO WAY we were missing it!)

The Force Awakens with a Six Year Old

Monday 21st December. It’s Panto season! So we headed to Wimbledon – I bought tickets a while back as we need a good panto substitute (as we didn’t get to York), so thought we’d try this. There were moments which fell a bit flat (to me) but other moments (when they did the 12 days of Christmas) that were hilarious. H enjoyed it, and Flawless really were good – open-mouthed-staggeringly good. She insisted on using the Opera Glasses.

Wimbledon panto

Tuesday 22nd December. Relief! H’s front tooth fell out at last. It had been really wobbly, so much that she was wobbling it all the way through the pantomime. So when she accidentally bit into some food with it and it came away, we were pretty lucky the tooth fairy and Father Christmas didn’t have to pay a visit on the same day. Phew.

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Wednesday 23rd December. H got a delivery which made her really happy – the new Lou Kuenzler book ‘Bella Broomstick’ which she read within a day, loves (we love Lou Kuenzler’s books anyway, H has quite a few!) and even more exciting for her, she has asked Lou some questions which will be coming on Mum Friendly on the 7th January. One thing I’ve realised about H this year, she does like asking questions – her school magazine had her interviewing her old teacher and some of the questions she came up with were really good! (must take after her mum…)

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Thursday 24th December. Twas the night before Christmas, so I charged up my old camera and got it out again to get a decent photo of the tree.

Christmas Tree 2015

Friday 25th December. Merry Christmas! Someone got LOADS of books as presents!

Christmas 2015

Saturday 26th December. The day after. I love Kikki K. I’m extremely excited they’ve opened a London store, as I would always spend too much money in the Australian stores, so now I can space it out a bit. Shaun bought me a 2016 diary which I am going to make sure I use as it’s SO PRETTY! Shaun got me some awesome presents this year and I really don’t feel like I deserve them.

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Project 365 – Week 46

Sunday 8th November. A calm day after a crazy night before at the local bonfire. I decided I need to wear the clothes I buy rather than keeping them “for best” – so wore my lovely new Seasalt Cornwall skirt. Love it, and a good length for me too.

Seasalt skirt

Monday 9th November. Would I like to try some chocolate which has no sugar? Oh yes please. So I’ve been trying this, at my desk, at work. I’m not sharing, I need to test it properly.

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Tuesday 10th November. Completely random – we were left a blank envelope on our doorstep which had this inside – a random act of kindness. I’m thinking about adding the amount to the sponsorship money we’re collecting for the fun run we’ve done, as we’re raising money for the Little Princess Trust. How random and kind though! I have to admit, once I’d got over how nice it was I then got paranoid – that’ll be living in London that does that to you.

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Wednesday 11th November. I’ve been given the chance to test a Leafcard via work for £1 for a year – if you’re with someone and eat at one of their partner restaurants, you can get a vegetarian meal for free. So if I use it once I’ve made my money back. Interesting, but we’ll see how we go.

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Thursday 12th November. Giant crumpets. So giant I had just the one and felt full. So good though, I do love crumpets. They’re also handy as a quick breakfast when you’re heading out for a fun run (I now speak from experience).

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Friday 13th November. Work is crazy at the moment, to the point I’m getting home and still doing some work. This is all due to our biggest album release (possibly ever) next Friday, and the lead-up to it and where my work kicks in. It has involved sleepless nights and worried days, but it’s worth it. Fortunately I keep my regular hours and work has employed someone to help me out (he was off sick for two days though, so Thursday and Friday wore me out) – so to get home and get a package for H from my mum-in-law was a good break from it all. There is a Christmas shop in Toodyay which is open all year round, and she sent H some things, two of which are here.

Aussie Christmas decorations

Saturday 14th November. Back in March I bought tickets for H and I to see Annie on stage in Wimbledon. She has never seen the stage show, and didn’t know the songs which didn’t feature in the films (until I bought her the soundtrack for her birthday), and I hadn’t seen it on stage since the eighties. We HAD to go. I may have had little tears in my eyes re-living my youth with my daughter, and she loved it. No Craig Revel Horwood as Miss Hannigan, we had Lesley Joseph (and I was fine with that) – she was good too, although I couldn’t spot her American accent too often! But she was well suited for the role.

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Sing and Play – Jingle Bells App

P2 Games have released a new title just in time for Christmas from their Sing and Play range. This time it’s Jingle Bells, and if you’ve tried their Wheels on the Bus app which we reviewed earlier this year, you’ll know what to expect. It’s a really bright colourful play along game which teaches your child how to play it really simply on a keyboard.

Jingle Bells App

The Jingle Bells app is available now at the App Store, and follows the familiar pattern all P2 games have – sections to complete and sticker rewards which you can place on a themed picture. This is still very much up H’s street so she got on with it straight away, and was playing Jingle Bells fairly quickly too.

Each note is highlighted on the keyboard, so the child just needs to press it. I think H still has a bit of time before she’ll work out what she’s playing as the tune, but she’s getting there and enjoys it.

The sections within the game are :
Jigsaw puzzles – Based on 4 different seasonal songs – ‘Jingle Bells, ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’, ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’. Once completed, children will watch in wonder as the pictures come to life, allowing them to play with everything they can see.

Playable keyboard – Let’s make music! Children can learn and practice the Jingle Bells song, as well as have fun with the freeplay activity on the keyboard, experimenting with different funny silly sounds!

Colouring activity – Get creative with different brushes and tools! Use them to colour and decorate a Christmas scene, each based on a different Christmas classic.

Animated sticker soundboard – Children can earn stickers throughout game-play as rewards, which then unlock in this sticker activity.

Jingle Bells App

The Sing and Play Jingle Bells app is available now in the App Store for just £1.49 – if you’re looking for a last minute present and can’t face going out in the awful weather right now, this is a good choice. This game is targeted at under 5’s.

We received a code to review this app, all opinions are our own. The link is an affiliate one.

(Didn’t Hurt A) Reindeer Pizza – Kids Party Snacks

It’s our NCT Christmas gathering tomorrow and we always like to take along something different. This year I think we’ve a good one – reindeer pizza.

reindeer pizza Reindeer pizza isn’t difficult to make, in fact, you may have already seen a gingerbread reindeer variation which did the rounds a few weeks ago simply by turning your gingerbread man upside down and decorating it differently.

We like cake but sometimes you need a break – especially as there’s so much sugary stuff on offer right now. Fortunately we love pizza. So we made some reindeer pizza.

reindeer pizza

Our dough was made in the breadmaker and makes five reindeer. Once ready you prep the dough and simply cut the shapes and decorate. We have a large gingerbread man shape from our 101 Cookie Cutters set which are a good size.

Even better, it’s vegetarian, you’ve got some vegetables on there, so while it isn’t the healthiest of snacks it isn’t cake.

For the dough in the breadmaker (made according to the Panasonic SD-256 instructions) you need the following :
1/2 tsp yeast
300g (11oz) strong white flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
170ml water

Add to the breadmaker in that order and put it onto the Pizza Dough setting. 45 minutes later you will have your dough. Knead it and roll it and cut the gingerbread man shapes.

To make your shape look reindeer-like you need to add various vegetables – red pepper for the mouth, a Rudolph-esque cherry tomato for the nose, two olives for the eyes and yellow pepper for the antlers. Use passata for the sauce and mozzarella for the top.

reindeer pizza Bake in the oven at 220°c/425°f/Gas Mark 7 for 15-20 minutes on a tray lined with baking paper.

For pudding the kids are having mince pie ice cream – as made in our ice cream maker. It’s pretty yummy too…

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Christmas Gift Ideas – Window Shopping at the Science Museum

The Science Museum has several fabulous shops within it, and many things I wanted to buy. Seeing as how I’ve concentrated on almost everyone else in the family, and gift ideas for them, I thought I’d add my own little virtual wishlist of things. A lot of these I’d love but realistically there’s nowhere to keep them though, our kitchen is small.

However, small is good when it comes to a proper spice rack, such as this one, right? There’s only space for five so I’d need several of them… at £20 they’re not cheap but how cool would my kitchen look?

Test Tube Spice Rack

Obviously I’d need matching salt and pepper pots to go alongside it. Fortunately these exist and are only £12.  They are possibly not practical for a four year old though. They look much more stylish than my existing ones.

Salt & Pepper

Marinading is a scientific process apparently, so I’m all for this pipette brush – and the glass bottle looks pretty fab, and would sit perfectly alongside the previous two.  It’s like I’m meant to own them.

Marinade with Pipette Brush

This though, this is what I crave. This is what I need. I never realised I needed it until I saw it, and from that point I knew my kitchen would not be complete without it – a Salad Zinger. See, I like making salad dressing but it’s always boring – with a Salad Zinger you add all the ingredients, it chops up the fresh stuff at the bottom and makes a yummy dressing. It sounds so simple, my only question is whether it is dishwasher-friendly or not. At £25 it’s pricey, especially compared to the $25 you can get it for in the US, but I’m willing to take a risk. I also squirmed at the oil and fat being put into it on the picture. Seriously?

Salad ZingerAfter all this, I’d then quite like to sit and relax after eating, and what better way to do it than sitting around the table with a pretty flower in a pretty vase, right. Or just a vase like this. They look pretty sturdy, although I’d rather pick one up in person than buy one online I think… only £15 too!

Edison Medium Bulb


So there you go, if family are reading this, this is my kind of Christmas this year. I’m going for a minimal look. Everything here is available at the Science Museum in London and I had to stop myself from getting the credit card out to buy several of these at the weekend… ho ho ho!


Christmas Gift Ideas – Cartoons Aren’t Just For Kids…

Today’s instalment of Christmas Gift Ideas comes from a self-confessed cartoonaholic.

I often joked about how once H could speak she’d be asking to watch documentaries while Shaun and I watched a random cartoon on tv. That hasn’t happened yet, but there’s still plenty of time.

Beano Jigsaw
We went to the Beano Christmas event back in the summer – and have been sent a wonderful Beano jigsaw to review. This isn’t the kind of puzzle a four year old will want to do, but it is definitely the kind of puzzle a family might want to sit around the table and do together – it has 1,000 pieces you see. I like the idea of us doing it together – it reminds me of Christmas when I was younger and my dad would sit and do a jigsaw while drinking a nice glass of red wine as we watched whatever festive delights were on the telly while we helped him find the edges and whatever else he’d let us do. H really likes Dennis and Gnasher (and has watched the CBBC show a few times now) and I know is growing into a mini Beano fan – as a former mini Beano fan myself I can only approve of this progression and hope it may continue, while subliminally getting her hooked via jigsaws!

Tickety Toc Bubble Time

Tickety Toc have a new book out – Bubble Time. Tommy and Tallulah are having another adventure, and now they’re on Channel 5 I’m sure will be a popular one this Christmas. We’ve been sent the book and being the kind mummy I am, I’ve put it away until Christmas, so am reviewing this with my ‘this is what H would think’ head on. I’m not sure how close this works with the Bubble Time app (as we don’t have it) but I’m assuming it should. Tommy and Tallulah are trying to stop the giant un-poppa-bubble. There was a special Christmas Tickety Toc episode Christmas episode on Saturday November 30th at 12.30pm on Nick Jr so keep an eye out for repeats!

Babar Collection

Babar the Elephant isn’t a cartoon, but has been and still is, so that’s good enough for me. To commemorate Babar’s 80th Anniversary there’s loads available – we’ve got the Babar Collection of Five Classic Stories which are a great starter place for H – she met a Babar at an event so he’s on her radar, and they’re packed so well as a little set – they’re the original Jean de Brunhoff stories (his son carried on the name, writing several more stories after his death).

Going back to The Beano, there is the 2013 Annual to consider too – loads of cartoons, plenty of Dennis the Menace and the rest of the gang, if you like The Beano, this is a good one for you. I may have found myself reading and chuckling along to a little too much of this…  available in all good stores and suitable for all ages!

Beano annual 2014

Finally, one that isn’t really for us adults, but is handy when you need to distract your child (and let’s face it, Topsy & Tim isn’t out on DVD yet, as that’s currently our biggest distraction) is My Little Pony – we’ve been sent two DVDs to review, ‘Welcome to Ponyville‘ and ‘Call of the Cutie‘ – they’re suitable for all audiences and have a U rating which means I can get on with what I need to while H is in a cutie, horsey world of pink where she’s happy and not scared about a single thing. This is a good thing by the way, as so many things at the moment seem to be scaring her, so My Little Pony is a nice safe option and one she enjoys. Both DVDs are out now – if your little one is a fan, then check it out! My Little Pony is shown on the Tiny Pop channel (a channel well worth checking out as it also shows Meg & Mog!) !

My Little Pony Sleeve

We have been sent all these for the purpose of review and Christmas recommendations. All opinions are our own and honest! The links above are affiliate links to Amazon where current prices are shown.

PNP – Portable North Pole Video Message

Portable North Pole Video messages are back – the chance to get a personalised video from Santa! Well what are you waiting for?

Portable North Pole video

Portable North Pole video messages are brilliant! We’ve been provided with a promo code to try out the premium video as well as receive a personalised phone call from Santa, which isn’t working just yet but should be soon. You can also download the PNP App to view your video, again not yet available, hopefully soon.

H loved her Portable North Pole video – Santa said “hello H!” and her face lit up, we got a sort of gasp and she started to wave – and yet again Santa knew EVERYTHING she’d done and had the photos to prove it..  These of course are the things I’ve set up while she was distracted, watching tv – which were straightforward, quick and editable.

portable north pole video options

I was quite pleased to see you can edit the options, for example, the four names which are shown on books are in the area where other children have been good. I amended those to her friends names from school rather than Shaun and I and her cousins as it was a better fit on the video.

portable north pole video options

On completion we got an additional Portable North Pole video which has Santa delivering his presents on Christmas Eve. The video is marked that way in your account but not when you’re viewing it. Fortunately it was vague enough that it just looked like he was checking where we live rather than saying he was on his way – a big parent fail from me there!

portable north pole video options

Ultimately, it didn’t matter, H found it magical and was delighted Santa knew so much about her and had a little book which told them what she’d done. I’d recommend ordering it in the evening and showing your child the following day. You can add a few photos of key moments from the year, and get photos from your Facebook albums which was handy. I selected five photos in total, two from holidays, one family, one of H and one of a picture she drew which came at no extra cost.

The Portable North Pole video was available immediately and we’ve already watched it a few times. If you want to start that Christmas feeling early, I’d recommend PNP – it’s a big hit in this house! We haven’t ordered the video on DVD, which comes at an additional cost, and are happy to stream it.

We’ll report back once the phone call is available, that should be interesting..
Head on over to PNP – Portable North Pole to order yours!

If you place an order and fancy a 20% discount on any of the digital products in the PNP Store, using the code BLG20BKP will work – it’s valid until the 1st January 2014.

The premium Christmas Video costs £2.99

Portable North Pole video

We were provided with a promo code to try out the Portable North Pole video message service – all opinions are our own.

Portable North Pole – the Santa Sprint App

Portable North Pole is back for 2013 – and this year there’s also an app – Santa Sprint. We were given a code to give it a go.

Santa Sprint is a new game from the people behind Portable North Pole. I think we’re right on the borderline for this game and it’s something H will really enjoy very soon, but she isn’t quite there.

Santa Sprint

Santa Sprint

You need to complete each level by collecting all the various objects (and additional extras) then make your way to the stairs to progress to the next. There are several levels you can play, within each group. I’ve been playing in the library so far. This has been simple enough, but of course there are obstacles on the way – and this is where H got upset unfortunately! (she’s quite sensitive)

Santa Sprint

She was a bit upset about the ‘flame’ type characters which drain your energy levels (the area at the top where there’s a heart), which made her burst into tears! So I’ve taken it over and am finding it fun – and a break from Plants vs Zombies 2.

Santa Sprint 3

Santa Sprint is straightforward enough – and once you clear a floor you get a special treat from Santa (we’ve had a story which H enjoyed).

Santa Sprint

This part left me confused – H is only four, so having a Santa treat at the end isn’t something she’d benefit from if I’m playing the game. Maybe when she’s six or seven? Will she still believe in Santa then? (I hope so!)

At the end of each level, if you have enough coins you can update your clothes, magic, heat, agility and you have an option to buy double points.

You have three options for a Second Chance, and if you want any more then you guessed it – you have to buy them.

Santa Sprint

I found higher levels there was sometimes a delay in loading, but I put that down to my iPad Mini rather than the game – I have no other devices I can try it on, as it isn’t compatible with our first generation iPad.

Santa Sprint is fun, probably not one for younger kids, and has in-app purchases which I’ve switched off. 
You can buy it now at the App Store for £1.99.

We were sent a code to review Santa Sprint, all opinions are our own.

Christmas Gift Ideas – The Because I Like Shopping at Uniqlo Edition

My workmate today realised there’s One Whole Month left before we finish for the year. This is a good thing as our section of the office is F R E E Z I N G. We’re all SO cold. Fortunately Uniqlo have their Heattech range and just to taunt me that little bit more there’s a fabulous Orla Kiely range within that. At a bargain £12.90 for each top I had to buy another today – especially as I’m wearing one every day (I have five now, not the same one every day!!) – I do love shopping at Uniqlo!

My problem with Uniqlo when they do a range with a designer I like is that I end up wanting to buy everything. This Orla Kiely range is no different – although only available in v-neck or polo neck (I usually prefer round neck ones).

Orla Kiely at Uniqlo

They also had some of the last Celia Birtwell range reduced – so I picked up a yellow stripe long sleeved top for £7.90

Celia Birtwell at Uniqlo

Those alone, if anyone bought me them for Christmas would make me a very happy lady. They’ve got Fair Isle style knits in store – gloves, hats and scarves, and fleeces of all manner of colours, jackets for this horrid cold weather and really reasonably priced jeans.

I’ve loved Uniqlo for years as I’ve found their clothes to be great quality and my kind of style. I love they’re working with designers and that each range has something most people will like. They’re not too girly and they’re not too plain.

I also love the 10 Gruppen fleece range and sent Shaun out to one of the West End branches to pick me up this fleece, which I’m really pleased with.

Uniqlo 10 Gruppen Fleece

I like quirky and interesting, and always end up clashing my patterns, but fortunately work is SO cold that I have my fleece zipped up all day so nobody ever knows… phew!

Uniqlo are even doing underwear these days. I haven’t bought any yet, but they look pretty comfortable so I’m sure it won’t be much longer… as a footnote, we finally got to the Wimbledon store and bought some of the kids range – and we’re really happy with it – and there’s plenty of Heattech choice there too. I love shopping at Uniqlo!

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