Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 in review

Like most people, I have been in a Christmas haze this past week - and gratefully so - enjoying some quality family time and balancing getting things done with having some much needed down time too.

2017 has been another year full of surprises and memories. There have been some tough times, times that feel like so very long ago now really, but for the most part, it has been a good year that has seen us achieve several things individually and together.

My blog has created even more exciting opportunities this year, and long may it continue (thank you to everyone who stops by to read my corner of the web) - but I haven't put too much pressure on myself and have tried to take things as they come. More on this in my post tomorrow...

So, what will I remember of 2017?


Saturday, 30 December 2017

Stick Man at Town Hall Birmingham - on until 12th January 2018

Oh Stick Man!

In the break between Christmas and New Years Eve, we headed to Town Hall Birmingham for some family fun and the imaginative Stick Man show.

We, like many other families, are big fans of the children's author Julia Donaldson and we saw the show the last time it came around, so knew it was well worth seeing.

"I'm Stick Man, I'm Stick Man, I'm Stick Man - that's me!"

As we took our seats, the whole hall was full of chatter from excited children and Ethan was quite literally on the edge of his seat, even though he remembered coming before.

We were sat in the upper circle area and for shows with little ones in tow, it's quite a good choice. Down in the main hall stalls, you are slightly closer to the stage, but being in the upper level, you have tiered seating so there's a good view for everyone (although Birmingham Town Hall also provide child booster seats, should you need them, which is really helpful).

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Smart Connections – Stay Connected to Your Home, Even When You Are Away

With smart technology, remaining connected to your home is something you can now do with ease. From your annual holiday to days at the office, with smart technology and your smartphone, you can stay in touch and in control of more or less everything in your home.

* Written in collaboration with Underfloor Heating Trade Supplies

Making Life Easier

Smart technology is being developed with one thing in mind – to revolutionise your life, making it easier to stay connected and in control of important aspects of your life. In this case, a smart home can be safer, more secure and more efficient and cost-effective too.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

A little tipple at Christmas

Eat, drink and be merry - those are the sentiments of the season that I like to get board with, and don't we all like to indulge a little over Christmas?

To help us start our Christmas celebrations, the lovely team at Lambrini sent me a bottle of every flavour in their current range - and a couple of the bottles have had a festive makeover too.

If you can believe it, I've never really had this light and fruity perry drink before - of course I have been aware of it but it's not been something I have bought before. So now was a good a time as any to give it a go and I have to say, I do really like it!


Saturday, 16 December 2017

'Tis the season to be jolly - and play games!

Whenever I think of our family Christmas', I always think of the games that we have played over the years. We used to play 'guess who', where you write the name of someone famous and one person has to stick it to their head and guess who they are, after Christmas dinner. Then there was the year I received Screwball Scramble from Santa and that kept me busy until the new year. And of course, there's charades, which we play with our friends with hilarious results (Anna Karenina came up one year and we were in tears of laughter trying to guess the actions!).

Isn't it law that you have to play charades as a family every Christmas?

What about an annual game of Monopoly, to bring out the competitive side in everyone?!

This Christmas, we have a new game to play, and we tried it out the other week when we met with our group of friends for our annual Mock Christmas celebrations.

The Game of Things is something of a legend, as I have come to discover. It's a simple, silly game that you can play with, ideally, four players or more - and it can be a great children-friendly game, or you can keep it just for adults too, if you want to be a bit cheekier with your responses.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Updated with interactive map! Midlands grotto guide 2017: where to see Santa this Christmas

* View my new 2018 guide to Santa grottos across the Midlands *

Just like decorating the tree and singing Christmas songs, my bumper guide to where to see Father Christmas, rounding up the best Santa grottos in the Midlands region, has become something of a tradition. 

I love sharing this each year, updating with the latest information and new locations too, and this is my BIGGEST SANTA ROUND-UP EVER, so I really hope that it proves useful to you. We have been to see the man in red several times at various locations across the Midlands so I’ve tagged past reviews where possible and key dates, ticket info and links are all below so you can see the best of what’s around.

So, here it is! My big 2017 grotto guide to the best places in the Midlands to meet the man with a belly that wobbles like a bowl full of jelly this Christmas…

Update! Check out this simply fantastic interactive Midlands Santa Grotto map so you can plot out exactly where Santa can be found across the region, and find out all the details you need about tickets and booking etc.


A perfect snuggly Christmas night in

We LOVE our snuggles in this house. From a young age, Ethan has been a fan of curling up on the sofa with a soft blanket for cuddles, and if you throw in some hot chocolate, a Christmas movie and the twinkling of our tree in the background, well, you've got the perfect Christmas night in if you ask me!

Most of our evenings now involve some quality time together on the sofa having a snuggle and it's tradition to re-watch all our favourite Christmas holiday films too in the lead up to 25th December. So far, we have watched The Holiday, The Santa Clause, Elf and Jingle All The Way, with the lights dimmed, the tree on and usually something to nibble too.


Alice in Wonderland - don't be late for this important date!

Prepare to fall down the rabbit hole this Christmas in a charming stage show that is perfect for little ones and families looking for a special event to enjoy together over the festive break.
My sister-in-law is a HUGE fan of Lewis Carroll's classic tale, Alice in Wonderland, and when I was invited to the press preview the weekend before last, but couldn't personally attend, I knew the perfect person to fill my shoes.

The afternoon involved afternoon tea, arts and crafts and meeting the cast before seeing the show before it launches to the public. What better way to spend the afternoon, for an Alice fan?!
This modern adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale follows Alice on her journey through the enchanted and extraordinary Wonderland, meeting many peculiar characters along the way. From intriguing white rabbits, bizarre riddles, mad tea parties and dangerous encounters with the Queen of Hearts, will Alice ever find her way home? 


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Stocking filler for Lego fans - Zuru Mayka tape

Ethan has recently got into Lego and can easily spend an afternoon creating all sorts of strange and wonderful buildings and characters from bricks, making and unmaking for hours.

To fuel his imagination and love of the little bricks, we recently attended Bricks Live and were introduced to Mayka tape by Zuru for the first time - the original toy block tape.

We were sent some of the wide blue Mayka tape, which is four studs deep, and a role of the slimmer tape in a bright green, which is two studs deep. The colours are bold and fun, and match Ethan's playroom perfectly, and the tape is really versatile so you can let their imagination take over.

We have several Ikea Kallax units, in the lounge and in Ethan's room, so with our first rolls we have lined the inside of one of them with the tape but plan on using the trim all around the inside of the square cubes in his bedroom unit too, to create a more fun surface for him to play with his figures.


Liverpool: #OneMagicalCity - a fun and festive family day out

I love living in Birmingham and all that a city has to offer, but we do like to travel too and find that this time of year is perfect to visit somewhere else and take in the sights and sounds of the season. Last Saturday, we did just that and headed less than two hours up the M6 to Liverpool to see what #OneMagicalCity has in store this Christmas.

I have been to Liverpool a couple of times myself - the last time was last year for a friend's hen do, as her family are from the area - and have loved the vibe, variety and walking-friendly nature of the city. Hubs has only ever been once, on a flying visit to the passport office, so we had every reason to head up north for a fun, festive day out together as a family.

We've all been busy of late so needed to find some festive spirit.

Our #OneMagicalCity experience, organised by Visit Liverpool, began with a trip to the Liverpool Ice Festival. Right on the dock at Pier Head, there's a lot to enjoy here and you could easily spend a couple of hours without even thinking about it.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Getting our house ready for Christmas - with Vileda

I'm a bit late getting my Christmas decorations up this year. I am usually there on 1st December, ready to deck the halls, dust of the decs and plump up the Christmas tree. The longer the tree can be up, the better so the whole month of December, our house is full of festive cheer.

We've just been so busy with work recently, and various commitments and family or friend meet ups. Our working week routine is pretty full on then, when you throw in a touch of the flu, with Ethan now very unwell, we are just a bit behind on it all.

We had a day at the end of November, hubs and I, to hit the shops and get the Christmas presents bought and stored away and it felt good to get this tackled.

Then came the house.

Before any decorations can be put up, of course you need to have a proper tidy up first. With our house pretty full most of the time any way, and with a dog, two cats and two rabbits to care for, things can accumulate and cleaning can quickly fall by the wayside.


Friday, 8 December 2017

Gifts for her ideas - finding the ideal gift for your partner

I love buying gifts for people and can get a bit carried away with it all. I often find more things I think someone would like after my initial Christmas shopping spree, and I can't resist a bargain. Who can?!
*Sponsored post

We all know that Christmas is a busy and expensive time of the year - at least, it can be. There's different people to think of - and some who aren't the easiest people to buy for - and so many different offers or deals to take in, it can be a little daunting sometimes and you feel like you have to really shop around to get the best price, which in itself can be exhausting although it is rewarding in the end.

I like to think a bit differently and try more out of the ordinary places to shop and pick up the perfect present, at an even more perfect price - and Groupon in one such place.

I've used the site to get discounted tickets to family shows and for spa weekends with my friends too but I hadn't thought about using the deal site for Christmas shopping before, and I have no idea why!

There's plenty of inspiration to be had. For a lovely lady in your life, you can find plenty of gifts for her at Groupon, whether it's a pamper session, experience day or a great bargain on her favourite perfume.

Here's just a few ideas that might be right up her street for Christmas this year...

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