The Countdown to Christmas – Top Eight Advent Calendars

Advent calendars have moved on from the plastic-tasting-chocolate filled boxes that we all devoured as kids. There are lots of alternative options available now, for both kids and adults, and here are some of my favourites.

1. Best for Mums
The Boots No7 Advent Calendar, £35, is the perfect treat to yourself – mini make up and skincare products each day will ensure you are looking your best for the festive season.
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2. Best for Boys (and Girls)
The Lego City Advent Calendar gives kids a piece of the play set each day, so they have a toy they can play with long after advent has finished. Also available in Lego Friends and Star Wars, each calendar is £20 from Boots – and as these are included in their 3 for 2 Christmas gift offer you can treat the kids and yourself at the same time.
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3. Best for an Ice Princess
Treat your Frozen-loving mini-me to her first beauty set with this Frozen Beauty Advent Calendar from Tesco. For £15, it includes hair accessories, lip gloss, nail varnish and more.
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4. Best for Chocolate Lovers
Unsurprisingly, chocolate is still a popular choice for advent calendars and I for one welcome any excuse to indulge! Hotel Chocolat’s dark, milk or white chocolate calendars are a taste of luxury, and at £12.50 each they are good value when compared to the rest of the company’s range.
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5. Best for Blokes
For a booze-filled run up to Christmas, the Best of British Beer calendar features 24 different bottles of beer for £88.50.
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6. Best for Beauty Lovers
The Benefit Cosmetics Calendar, £60, features trial-sized products including lip glosses, blushers and mascara. This limited edition calendar is selling out quick, so visit your local Benefit counter soon if you want to get your hands on one.
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7. Best for Teenagers
The Ski Lodge Calendar from Studio is one of the more affordable cosmetic-filled calendars (currently half price at £12.49), ideal for teenage girls.
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8. Best for the Personal Touch
Wrap up gifts or fill small envelopes, boxes or gift bags to create a DIY calendar. For adults you could include chocolates, scratch cards/Lotto tickets, beer, mini bottles of alcohol, novelty socks, Christmas tree ornaments, make up, nail varnishes, mini hand creams, hot chocolate sachets and puzzles. For kids you could include sweets, hair clips, beads, bobbles, books, small figures/blind bags, cars, puzzles and bubbles – visit Poundland for some budget friendly ideas! For more DIY inspiration check out Pinterest.com.

Clara’s first tooth and Izzy’s big imagination

Today, my little Clara got her first tooth. She has been drooling like crazy the past week and biting anything she can get her gums on, and finally today I felt the sharp little tooth, on the bottom right. We have been keeping a couple of teething toys to hand and using some teething gel, but she’s been a bit upset and unsettled for a few days now.

Luckily it hasn’t affected her sleep at night and as yet the tooth isn’t far enough through to be causing too many problems with feeding. Its a little uncomfortable but I’m not looking forward to when it comes further through! When she bites down with just her gums its bad enough, nevermind with teeth, but hopefully I will be able to continue breastfeeding for a while longer.

Talking of which, Izzy’s preschool teacher told me today that Izzy has been putting dolls up her top and saying she is feeding them milk. This was after she asked if Clara was ok now. After seeing the look of confusion on my face she explained Izzy had told her how I had to take Clara to the hospital last night because she was ill, and Izzy’s Daddy took her to a bonfire night party at her cousins house where she had sandwiches and cake and watched some fireworks in the garden. 

None of this happened. Not even close.

On the way home from preschool she continued the tale, saying how she was scared because it was dark in the garden and the fireworks were loud so her auntie said she could sit on her knee and they used torches to see. Such an imagination, she was so convincing she almost had me doubting myself!

Halloween Activities

Wearing fancy dress and getting sweets off the neighbours? Of course Izzy loves Halloween. Plus it’s a great excuse for some themed baking and crafts. Here’s some of the activities we’ve been up to this Half Term…

1. Spooky Spiderweb Cakes
Cover cupcakes with melted plain or milk chocolate then pipe on a spiral of white chocolate. Drag a cocktail stick from the centre of the cake to the edges to create a spider web effect, and decorate with spiders. The plastic ones pictured are available in Asda, but you could use printed or drawn pictures attached to cocktail sticks.

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2. Paper Plate Pumpkins
Paint paper plates orange and then add a scary face using black paint or shapes cut out of black paper. Put a hole in the top and hang up with some string.

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3. Handprint Bats
Turn handprints into bat wings and cut out for some spooky halloween decorations.

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Christening Day

A week ago our beautiful baby girl was christened at the same church where Izzy was christened and where we got married last year. Izzy enjoyed dressing up for the occasion in her party dress, and insisted that she wear her christening bracelet as Clara was wearing her’s. She even made up a little song for her sister, “Happy Christening Day”, sung to the tune of Happy Birthday.P1080858

Clara was very calm throughout the whole day, fixedly staring at the vicar and sucking her thumb while he put the water on her forehead. There were two other babies being christened at the same time, both boys, who cried while Clara just looked nonplussed by the whole event. She slept through the meal but woke up to have some photos taken with her cake, when she put her bare foot into the icing, leaving a little footprint. Not sure who got that bit of cake, but I’m sure her feet were clean…

Clara wore Izzy’s christening dress, which fit despite being size 6-12 months, and we had her silver christening bracelet made and personalised with her name and the date of the christening, from Etsy.

I enjoyed adding some personal, handmade touches to the day. For her two Godmothers we went to a local craft shop and printed her two tiny feet on a heart shaped plaque as a nice keepsake. I made the invitations and cake myself, using a small ceramic rabbit from Not on the High Street as a cake topper.

wpid-2014-10-20-19.58.25.png.pngOf course the highlight for Izzy was tucking into the cake. Having cut some bits of cake off the sides to make it smooth, I then found her sneaking some out of the bin! “You do not eat food out of the bin” is not a phrase I thought I would ever have to say. Same with “You do not eat food off the floor” as after our lovely Sunday dinner following the christening, I found Izzy eating a roast potato that she had found on the floor of the restaurant. You would think she never gets fed.

Time to catch up

I’ve been absent from WordPress for the past couple of weeks – which means I’ve missed a whole two weeks of Blogging101 assignments – as things have just been very hectic here. Nothing major, just general life impeding my ability to even compose my thoughts, let alone get ten minutes to myself to write them down.

My husband dislocated his ankle playing football, which meant a trip to A&E (in an ambulance for him, and with two kids in tow for me). He wasn’t able to do much at first, except hobble around on crutches and take up space on the sofa. So that meant a bit more running around for me. Though he did buy me a big bouquet of flowers to say thank you for looking after him. After two weeks of him being off work though, I have to say I am relieved he is back in work today. We can get back to routine, And once I’ve dropped Izzy off at school I can get a little time to myself. Well, sort of to myself. Clara is playing on the floor while I enjoy a warm cup of tea and finally catch up on some blogging.

Blogging 101: Is honesty the best policy?

Today’s Blogging101 assignment is to publish a post based on the following Daily Prompt:

You’ve come into possession of one vial of truth serum. Who would you give it to (with the person’s consent, of course) — and what questions would you ask?

If I had a vial of truth serum, I’m not sure I would want to use it. The general assumption is that the truth is good, lying is bad, but honesty isn’t always the best policy.

We lie to our children all the time to maintain the innocence of youth and the magic of fairy tales. We lie to our family and friends to conceal surprises – parties, presents, big announcements. We lie to people to protect them, knowing that confirming their fear that their latest hair cut was a really bad idea is going to be counter productive. Little white lies can save feelings and marriages – I do not want to know if my husband thinks I look fat in an outfit. He way well think it, but if I know without doubt that he is thinking it, then I’m just going to feel bad. And there are no winners in that case. Having said that, I would like to know if he genuinely sleeps through our daughter’s cries or just fakes it so he doesn’t have to get out of bed.

To ask someone to use truth serum tells them that you don’t trust them. If they are always honest, they will be upset that you doubt them. If they are not always honest, and you find out the truth by using the serum, then you will never be able to trust them in the future. Either way, your relationship will never be the same, so you wouldn’t be able to use the vial on someone that you care about.

Of course, truth serum could be used to find out the answers to some of the big unanswered mysteries and prove conspiracies. But isn’t part of the intrigue not quite knowing? The unknown can lead us to a lot more possibilities than the confirmed truth.