For all the single ladies, mums and dads

This isn’t an easy post to pitch, so I will probably make a lot of crap jokes. A couple of experiences over the last week made me realise how hard single parents work, and how -even though I am often found complaining about my other half’s belief in some kind of Christmas fairy – at Christmas that load gets so much bigger.

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Five family friendly European Christmas festivals

DSC_0325I really got the travel bug this year. Now my kids are older, but while Christmas is still full of magic, here are six places I would love to travel to as a family at Christmas. Don’t forget to leave room in your suitcase for all the amazing present buying opportunities. Continue reading

Hey *tartle* Lolo! Don’t be a Mouton Enrage – give the gift of a language course

I am feeling a little bit mouton enrage today, (French for someone who loses their temper, literally an ‘enraged sheep’. Too much to do, overtired kids, and not enough time. The language course provider Rosetta Stone sent me these crackers and I haven’t even had chance to make them because this time of year is bonkers.

If you are fed up of jokes in Christmas crackers, and fancy livening up Christmas dinner then take a look at Rosetta Stone’s alternative cracker inserts, ten cut out unusual words picked from languages around the globe.

The dog woke me for some silly reason at 5.30 and as we wandered though the dark house to see if he needed a wee in the back garden, (he didn’t), I had a distinct feeling of Hira Hira. Japanese for the feeling you have when you walk into a dark and decrepit old house in the middle of the night. I feel like stuff is caving in on me, the Christmas tree was the final straw, the house is overflowing.

I’ve lost my Yupinalle too, or the kids have hidden it down the sofa. Swedish for mobile phone, literally, yuppy teddy, like a security blanket.

Anyway, only 3 days of school left and then I hope we will have the time and energy to make these lovely crackers.

I love the word Tartle, I do it alot. It is Scottish for hesitating when you are introducing someone whose name you can’t remember. Only the Welsh could have a moment for the sound the grandfather clock makes before it chimes, and what a beautiful word it is too, Gwarlingo. I imagine there will be lots of Poronkusemas on Christmas Eve, Finnish for the exact distance a reindeer can travel without a comfort break.

Anyway my point is, language, it is beautiful and it makes a fabulous gift. Rosetta Stone offer language courses on CD Rom and online. The software is interactive and can be downloaded on two different computers for use by up to five people, making it easy for a couple, or family to follow a language course together.

I have been threatening to learn Italian for sometime. Rosetta Stone kindly sent me a six month trial of their Italian language course, so next time we go to Italy I can do more than order coffee and pizza, badly.

Here is the pdf of the cracker inserts in case you fancy livening up the conversation over Christmas.

If like me you were wondering why Rosetta Stone…

The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptianhieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek. Because it presents essentially the same text in all three scripts (with some minor differences among them), it provided the key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs.


Post in collaboration with Rosetta Stone.

What are your Little White Lies of Christmas?

How many white lies do you tell to get you through the Christmas season? In the run up I lie a lot, in fact I think it would be safe to say I am a competitive liar.

I mainly lie about how organised or disorganised I am. I cannot bear conversations about Christmas shopping, so generally the more organised the person I am talking to is, the further down the spectrum towards complete disorganisation I go, just to see their horror. Sometimes if I am very bored of talking about it, I just tell people it is all done and wrapped.

I sustain a whole elaborate world populated by a man in a red suit, reindeers and elves.

I also pretend Christmas is my favourite day of the whole year, when actually it is Boxing Day, the day when I can eat leftovers, play with my presents, actually watch some cracking telly and not have to cook.

Christmas is the season of little white lies and this video by the insurance company Hiscox had me really smiling. If you are a parent, I think it might have you grinning too. Spot on.

So, what are your little white lies of Christmas?

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Beautifully simple, classic Christmas printable crafts

DSC_0718-001The fabulous people at shared with me some gorgeous printable craft templates. Whether you want to keep the kids quiet for an hour over the holidays, or you fancy a serious craft challenge these six ideas are easily adaptable to create lovely results for all levels of ability. Miss L and I sat down for a quiet Saturday afternoon to try out two of the Christmas printable crafts: Crackers and Angels. Continue reading

A Christmas Carol – @LakesideArts Centre, Nottingham #xmascarol

cc2 Lakeside have once again triumphed with this superb retelling of Dickens A Christmas Carol, which works brilliantly for both children and grown ups. Cleverly I think the characters will also appeal to the student population too, the theatre being in the grounds of Nottingham University.  Continue reading

Pantomime – Jack and the Beanstalk: Nottingham Playhouse

Jack and the PlayhouseI will start by saying I am not a fan of pantomime, as I think it is only fair you understand where a review is coming from. It has also been a tough week at home, the storms were raging last Thursday night, we all just wanted to hibernate indoors. Would I find the magic? Continue reading

Make Christmas Candles with Baker Ross

make candlesIn a wonderful moment of blogging serendipity, Baker Ross sent me the exact items my daughter had eagerly circled in the craft catalogue she brought back from school. So we spent a happy Sunday afternoon together learning how to make Christmas candles which will make lovely presents for someone!

It really is easy, soften the wax squares in a bowl of warm water, and off you go. Continue reading

Magic and Sparkle

This morning, as I was crawling through the in traffic in town, the lights changed at the pedestrian crossing to let an elderly gentleman with a big blue carrier bag across.

He walked across the road painfully slowly, I had time to roll my stiff neck and my eyes to the heavens and to tap my fingers on the steering wheel. I was wondering if I would ever get to the end of my to do list, or when I would get round to writing a Christmas to do list. Continue reading

Making Recycled Christmas Cards, without the glittery, gluey mess

christmas craft chaos

Bostik sent us some Glu dots and Glitter Pens, so we set about doing what we do best after a hard day at school and work: tea, biscuits and craft chaos. There was a subtle difference last night though, the Bostik products meant that when Mr A appeared at 5pm to find the table like this and us totally engrossed in what we were doing, with no thoughts of tea, it only took minutes to clear up and get tea on.  Continue reading

Christmas Activities for Kids

christmas decoration

christmas decoration by stvcr, on Flickr

I don’t know about you, but it took me a while to find my stride with creating my own family Christmas: the best bits of my family, Mr A’s family and some ideas borrowed along the way. Today’s guest post in association with Parkdean Holidays has some lovely suggestions for memorable activities to add to your Christmas rituals.

During the kids’ holidays this Christmas you might want to stay on top of things and keep the excitement under wraps before the big day. Distraction is the best way to do that, so keeping the kids busy is one method to ensure a fun and peaceful Christmas. Here are some great ideas on what to do with the little ones this time of year. Continue reading