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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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Looking Forward To Halloween

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Sponsored Posts | Posted on 26-09-2014

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October? Can you believe its almost October already? Now the children have all gone back to school its pretty much full pace through until the dreaded C-word, but with October on the horizon there are two other events to look forward to in our house next month. One is Little Man’s fourth birthday, but a couple of weeks after that is Halloween. Now whilst I wasn’t much of a Halloween fan myself as a child – I think it was the idea of wandering around outside in the cold and inevitable rain that put me off – , and whilst I’m still not keen on my two going trick or treating, I am thinking a bit of a Halloween party might be in order for us this year. I’ve got a box of decorations and party wear in the loft I think that I acquired in the sales last November – its pays to forward plan here! – so I just need to sort out some costumes for the boys. Little Man will be at preschool that morning so hopefully there’ll be some kind of dressing up going on there, and I’m sure Little Dude will be happy to get into the “spirit” of things as well.

I’m thinking perhaps something subtle like this t-shirt from Asda might work for Little Man during the day. It doesn’t “scream” Halloween so it could be worn more than once, and its looks pretty stylish too. At just £3 its a bargain too! Little Dude will be joining in as well, probably wearing the My First Halloween sleepsuit. I definitely think something a bit cute is required for your first Halloween, and this fits the bill perfectly. No Halloween is complete without somewhere to stash your treats. Whilst Little Man won’t be heading out around the streets just yet, I’m sure I can supply a few ghoulish sweets for him all the same. A Frankenstein bucket will be just the job. This year we have our new playroom to decorate as well, so purple fairy lights seem appropriate don’t you agree? I think I can have some fun setting up some Halloween activities and decorations whilst Little Man is being spooky at preschool. I’ll have to get up into the loft to see what other bits and pieces I have. I’m sure the stores will be filling up with snacks, treat and sweets soon enough. Maybe its time to brave some more baking with my boys, and perhaps create some Halloween cupcakes. Believe me, there’s nothing “scarier” than our kitchen after a baking attempt with Little Man!

How do you celebrate Halloween in your house?

Christmas Decorations at John Lewis

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Home & Lifestyle, Information | Posted on 12-11-2012

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With a little over 6 weeks to go until the big day a lot of you are probably thinking about how you’re going to decorate your home and your table this festive period. I love putting up the tree and decorating my house. We have a huge box of decorations that my husband and I have acquired during our relationship and I’m really bad at getting rid of them. I’m generally allowed to buy one new decoration each year – either something for the tree, or an ornament of some kind – but we both know that its never just one. We’ve had two Christmas’ now since Little Man arrived and I can see this years being the best yet. He is so much more aware – and much more likely to pull down the tree – so I’m really excited to get the lights up and see his face when the house is done.

I recently took a trip down to John Lewis At Home in Chichester where I met with the Visual Merchandising team. They showed me the decorations for the home and the table they have on offer this year, and gave me a few tips about making my house look extra special this Christmas.

I was a huge fan of the table centre pictured above with the candles. At the base – and running the length of the table – is in fact a Red Berry Wooden Garland which you’d traditionally hang on the mantelpiece if you have one. This looks great along the centre of the table and has proved hugely popular in store – this was the last one left in the building! Above that you find two red platforms – these are actually Red Holiday Cake Stands. I’ve never even considered using a cake stand for anything other than a cake, but I think this is a fabulous idea. It adds height to your table decoration without taking up much width. If you chose not to have the garland on the table – and to be honest I don’t think its a great idea if you have small children with grabbing hands – you could still fit serving dishes around the base and tuck them under the stands. The stands are decorated with small crackers, baubles, and candles all available now at John Lewis. You could quite easily swap the candles for a Hurricane Lamp filled with baubles or simply battery operated fairy lights which would sparkle perfectly.

When it comes to place settings we usually just put our usual table mats down or if we use a tablecloth just put plates straight onto that. One of my favourite things in the Christmas range at John Lewis is the Reversible Placemat in the bottom right photo. Red and white striped on one side the reverse is plain red apart from a pocket in the bottom corner. This is red and white striped too and is designed to fit your cutlery in. A really cute and simple way to lay the table. I am rather tempted to these and they might well be my “new decoration” for this year.

For decorating the rest of your home the major tip was to make it all along the same theme and colour scheme as your table decoration. The tree decorations on the left come from the Lapland range. This range is aimed at children and is fantastic. The decorations you normally find for children tend to be dodgy plastic breakable numbers or fragile wooden items which whilst beautiful won’t last 5 minutes in the hands of a toddler. The Lapland tree decorations are largely made from felt. Unbreakable, bright and colourful felt. The tree which was instore and completely decked out in gorgeous felt decorations looked stunning and also perfect for a home filled with children. According to the Visual Merchandising team it was also the most fun to decorate!

In our vast box of decorations we also have a few ornaments that only come out at Christmas. They are usually just dotted around the house, on sideboards and windowsills – generally anywhere the Little Man can’t reach. This year I think I’ll be investing in a few cake stands, as once again they have been used brilliantly by the team at John Lewis At Home in Chichester as focal points for decoration. A simple White Ceramic Santa Ornament, a candle and a tealight holder set on the red cake stand from earlier makes a great feature. Candles and lights are a gorgeous way to decorate your home and housing them safely on a cake stand is a great idea. Must buy more cake stands – just nobody tell Hubby!!

This year will be the first year we introduce and Advent Calendar to Little Man. We have a beautiful handmade one which my Mother-In-Law made for Hubby and myself which we will no be using for Little Man. If you aren’t as lucky as us you might want to check out the range in John Lewis this month. Gorgeous wooden houses with doors and windows which open, nativity scenes with drawers beneath, or one to hang on the wall featuring Rudolph and lots of pockets. There is a huge range of advent options available to suit all tastes and budgets.

Christmas is well and truly on its way and visible in stores all over the high street. I hope that this has given you some inspiration for making your home look magical and festive this year. Do visit your local John Lewis At Home store or Home Department of your nearest John Lewis for more inspiration. You can locate your nearest store here. And if you live in the Chichester area pop into the John Lewis At Home store on the Portfield Retail Park and see what Pennie, Laura and the team have been up to.

 

Halloween Party Ideas

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Information, Product Reviews | Posted on 28-10-2012

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October Half Term is upon us which signals Halloween is just a few days away. If you’re planning on throwing a party this Wednesday night for your children, or perhaps next weekend, here are a few ideas for some great value items to help make your party nice and spooky!

Here is our party table:

There are loads of Halloween decorations and party items available now in most high street stores, but everything you see on this table is from either Wilkinsons or Asda and all cost less than £4 each. Halloween is fast becoming another expensive event for parents, and with Christmas just around the corner money might be a little tight already. You don’t have to break the bank though the provide a fun and spooky themed night for your little ghouls.

Lets start in Wilkinsons should we?

This black cupcake stand in made from cardboard and is bought flat packed. It’s simple to put together and if you’re careful can be taken apart and stored till next year. We made small cupcakes and could fit 24 on here which is a great capacity for something which costs just £3.

I love these holders. Here we’ve just used them as decoration, but you can sit a cupcake in them or I even popped an empty muffin case in there and used it for a few sweets. A silicone case would be perfect, especially if you can get them in a Halloween colour. These metal holders are just £1 each so you can pop a few on your table, or use them as goodie bag fillers.

What child doesn’t like biscuits? With this pack of four cutters you can make your own creepy cookies and get the children involved in decorating them. This pack of four includes a bat, a ghost, a skeleton and a cat shape and is a bargainous £1. Again these can be washed and put away until next year.

Silicone bake ware is a big trend at the moment and I use it a lot at home. Its so easy to clean and getting the cakes out when baked is much simpler then in a metal tin. This cake mould features six individual moulds – 2 bats, 2 pumpkins and 2 ghosts – so you can make little cakes for everyone instead of one large cake or the traditional cupcakes. I think this would also be great for making individual jellies. You can get jelly in a wide range of colours and flavours and they’ll set quickly in the fridge inside the moulds. This cake mould is £4.

A full selection of party decorations, treats and costumes can be found now at your local Wilkinsons store and online.

Heading over to Asda, here are a few bits to pop into your trolley this week.

No party is complete without something to eat and drink from. Save on washing up and worrying about breakages with paper plates, bowls and cups from Asda. Bright orange featuring black bats these sets are great for eating or drinking out of, as well as holding sweets and treats on the table. You can also get a matching wipe clean table cloth to protect your table. Prices start from just £1.

Sweets are essential at Halloween, either for your own party, or for the trick or treaters who come to your door. The Fangs and Bats come in plastic reusable screw top jars, and the striped Wands in multi-packs. All start from £2 a pack.

If you don’t have time to make biscuits you can buy some gingerbread shapes from Asda. These graveyard ghouls come feature pumpkins, bats and skulls, and are a bit of hit with my Little Man. A box of 18 is just £1.

Dressing up is a great part of Halloween, especially if you’re out trick or treating. If you want something a little more subtle, and a lot cheaper than a full blown costume, try one of these great spooky tshirts. A steal at just £2.50 each.

Check out the huge range of Halloween decorations, sweets, treats and costumes in store and online now.

Also on the table are Ella’s Kitchen Munchy Biccies in Cinnamon & Orange flavour, ideal for your younger guests.

All the homemade cakes and cupcakes you see were made using a huge pack of decorations, recipe books, aprons and supplies sent from Ladbrokes. We had a lot of fun making the cakes in skull covered cases and finishing them off with coloured icing, sugar shapes and sugar sparkles. Once the kids have finally gone to bed and you’ve got your feet up, why not take a look at the new spooky promotions and Halloween slot games available on the Ladbrokes website.