Christmas Fireplace

Christmas is a magical time for children and this year I am determined to make it extra special.

For all I promised myself to be done with the shopping by December so I can concentrate on the build up, it looks unlikely to happen so I have reset the goal for the 15th of December. (Keeping everything crossed that I can stick to this deadline).

The build up has however started, we have written our Christmas lists and hoped with all our hearts that we would get the blessing of an “Elf/Fairy Door”. Last year and the year before we had an Elf visitor, Olaf and Olly the Elves were lovely additions to the family and the girls especially, were hoping that a door would appear the morning after they had left their letters.

Imagine our joy when we got up to find a door waiting for us on the fire place.


After visiting the Crafting Tea Rooms in September, my bestie and I decided that this year we would set about crafting with the kids for Christmas.

I absolutely love making and creating but simply do not get the time these days. However, making the time to sit down with the kids and make it rather than buying it, has been really fun. Something we will most certainly be doing more over the weeks to come.

What better way to start, than with an amazing array of goodies from Hobbycraft. This year they are running a campaign which has been entitled and tagged #MakeItDontBuyIt. They also have an amazing Christmas range.

img_0919 img_0915

The kids were so excited to see what was in he basket and pulled every item out in a matter of seconds and spent the weekend putting pressure on me to get the crafting in motion.

img_0856 img_0939

I had a shift swap on Sunday so it mean’t I had more time on my hands. So once I had caught up on the night shift sleep and got put straight we got a big sheet out to protect the floor.

In the basket was a Christmas Stocking and it took quite some debate as to who would get the Stocking. Would it be one of the kids? Me? The decision was made, on the basis that he doesn’t have one, that Louie the Dog would get it. Libby nominated me to draw a picture of a dog on the stocking and while Penny sprinkled glitter on to the glue dog, Libby would find his name in amongst the felt letters.

img_0951 img_0953

His ears were filled with Pom Poms and we put him to one side to dry. I have been nominated to sew on some bells to the stocking when it dries. The kids have also decided that they would like to add some sparkly Pom pom’s to the stocking to make it “more fancy”.

img_0958 img_0959 img_0961

Next we opened up the Advent Calendar boxes. What an amazing idea this is. I have looked at the ready made ones and thought about getting one in years gone buy but to be able to make our own means it is extra special….we decided that Libby would be in charge of the big box on top, Penny the upper set of small boxes, Libby and Penny on the next layer and the bottom layer is all mine…YEY!

Out came the paints and brushes.

Penny stole one of the greens and started to do hers green. With a little help we managed to cover the boxes but for complete coverage we would need at least another layer on when this one was dry.


Libby decided that she wanted to go white and then paint glitter snow flakes on it.


The girls both painted the middle layer red and I went for white on the bottom layer.

img_0980  img_0985

As everything was wet and needed another coat of paint we left them to dry over night…….

The following day the boxes needed another coat of paint so while I did that Penny set about picking what needed to go on the stocking and where. As you can see she added quite a bit and is very pleased with her little self at how it turned out. (Not sure Louie is impressed but I am sure a few treats in it from Santa Paws will change his mind).

img_1043 img_1044

The next few days…..

So we painted some more and the time came to decorate the boxes. The girls decided that we should alternate the doors and have bows on some and Santa sequins on the other so that is what we did. The glue gun came in very handy and I used all the glue sticks included so went and invested in some more.


Desperate to use the Pom Pom’s some more Penny set about sticking them in the gaps, so armed with the glue gun we stuck them in place. Libby decided that she would like some white pom poms to put on the top box so it looked like snowballs.

img_1228 img_1233 img_1231 img_1226

Then we have the finished product…..


What a creation, they love it and are very proud of what they have created. I love it and I am sure Santa will too, here’s hoping he fills it full of goodies for them.

The products we used to “MakeItNotBuyIt” are:

The Wooden Present Stack Advent Calendar

Green Felt Christmas Stocking

Christmas Sparkle Pom Pom Bumper Pack

Hot Melt Mini Glue Gun

Hobbycraft School PVA Glue 300ml

Silver Glitter Shaker 80 g

Ready Mix Paint Christmas 150ml 6 Pack

Deco Mache Decoupage Papers

Assorted Adhesive Felt Letters

Single Tartan Mini Bows 20 Pack

Gold Christmas Star Wooden Glitter Toppers 12 Pack

Multi-Coloured Jingle Bells 30 Pack

Red Santa Sequins

Kids Paint Brush Set 3 Pack

A massive thank you goes out to Hobbycraft for getting us involved in the #MakeItDontBuyIt campaign. We had lots of fun and have even been for a sneaky visit to the Team Valley store to purchase some more bits for us to have fun with.

Look forward to creating some more, to find out more about the Hobbycraft Christmas ranges please visit them here.


Alcohol Free


There are times in life that you have to stand back and evaluate what you are actually doing. We all do it at some point, there is always that one event that brings you crashing back down to earth and stops you in your tracks. This makes us question our actions, our lifestyles and makes us realise how valuable life is.

In my younger days, before my children, I would go to the pub every night, have a couple of pints and come home but that was because I went down to see my Dad or to meet my partner at the time from work.


Losing my Dad was a major life evaluator for me. His death was sudden and although he died of a heart attack caused by heart disease, the reasons given at the post mortem, when Googled, were caused by years of abusing his body with alcohol.

After his death, although we are not big drinkers, we decided to cut back on how often and what we did drink. I fell pregnant very soon after my Dad’s death and so the alcohol stopped.

Once my little girl came in to the world we would have a drink on the weekends that Mark was off. He worked shifts in a factory so it would equate to a couple of bottles of wine a week. When he left the factory and went on the buses, his shifts could mean that he would only have a day off every ten days, but on his night off we would have a drink.


These days, well up until a month ago, Mark and I would enjoy a bottle of wine each on a Saturday night. As I work night shift on a Friday this was the only chance we would have to chill and put our feet up.

Nearly three weeks ago I started on the Erivedge treatment to try and control the growth of Basal Cell Carcinomas on my body. The treatment is very volatile and can have some major side effects, so far they have not been as bad as I expected.

When signing up for the treatment I had to sign a form to agree to certain criteria and one of them was to limit my alcohol intake. I was asked to refrain if possible. The medication can, if mixed with alcohol cause liver issues. We decided that we would knock the alcohol on the head and embrace the opportunity to “Switch it Up”.


“Switch it Up” is a campaign from AB InBev UK & Ireland, it comes following research they have conducted, they are aiming to empower consumers to make smart drinking choices and reduce the harmful use of alcohol.

Some of the facts and figures that AB InBev UK & Ireland have produced blew me away for example, did you know that……..

  • 78% of Brits consider themselves moderate drinkers

  • A third thank smarter drinking for staying in shape

  • 1 in 5 Londoners have missed a day at work because they didn’t drink smart

  • A quarter of 18-34 year old people enjoy feeling more productive at work thanks to moderate drinking

  • 18% of people have seen a wedding ruined by someone that drank too much

The results suggest that Brits are switching it up and are well on their way to a more moderate drinking culture, with only 16% of Brits admitting to drinking above the recommended guidelines.


Having heard what my motivation was to Switch It Up, the research shows that us Brits main motivations to moderate our alcohol intake are:

  • To be healthier (29%)

  • Better Weight Management (19%)

  • Avoid a dreaded hangover (18%)

  • The Monetary savings of moderate drinking (20%).

There are so many facts and figures in the research but I truly found it a fascinating read …..


How many times have you done your online shopping under the influence? The research showed that a third of us have. As well as that the average Brit spends £47 a month on alcohol, that amounts to nearly £600 a year.

By Switching It Up, 15% of Brits have gone on holiday with the money they saved.

Just think, going on a night out and being in total control, remembering the night the morning after (although my memory is shocking so I can’t guarantee this would happen in my case), not being the one that falls over drunk, waking up without that feeling of regret because you said something you shouldn’t have the night before and imagine how much more attractive you will look when you haven’t had your head in the toilet dealing with the consequences of one too many Sambuca’s. Of course, I have never done any of these and am not talking from experience (What do you mean I have my fingers crossed?)

Then there is of course the ultimate benefit of moderate drinking…….  the lack of a headache the next day!

Anna Tolley from AB InBev UK & Ireland says….

Offering consumers a variety of great tasting, alcohol-free options is an important part of our commitment to responsible drinking at AB InBev, and our aim is to empower consumers to make smart choices and reduce the harmful use of alcohol by the end of 2025. Through our Global Smart Drinking Goals we also want to ensure that No- or Low-Alcohol beer products represent at least 20% of our global beer volume by 2020

I have tried several types of low alcohol beers over the years and since learning to drive but never Becks Blue or Beck’s Blue Lemon, which in itself is strange as I love Becks (as does Mark).

img_1127 img_1128

They are both very low in calories, which is amazing as we are back at the gym and calorie counting again.

Becks Blue comes in at under 40 Calories and tastes amazing. It is refreshing, light in taste and if I didn’t know it was alcohol free I dont think I would know the difference.

img_1132 img_1133

I am very partial to the low alcohol fruit infused lagers, especially the citrus fruit ones. The Becks Blue Lemon is really tasty and tastes better than some of it’s competitors. This one comes in under 80 calories per bottle and again is refreshing and you would never know it didn’t contain alcohol.

This research and lager has really opened my eyes and made me want to carry on being alcohol free. I am not sure what my decision will be in terms of carrying on with the treatment but I do know, should I decide to stop taking the tablets, that my drinking will be kept to a minimum.

Thank you for sharing your research AB InBev UK & Ireland.


Winter Sunsafe


Having Gorlin’s Syndrome comes with it’s responsibilities if we want to stay well.

There are so many things we should and shouldn’t do but one of the main things we have to keep on top of is keeping our skin covered and protected.

We all need sun cream in the summer, but in the case of the girls and I, it has to be a year round affair. In the winter the application routine isn’t as strict as the months of spring and summer but we still need to be sun aware and make sure to Slip, Slop and Slap our body parts that are exposed to the sun.


As a rule I use a moisturiser in the winter that has UV protection included. I do however have the added issue this year of no hair. You would think having no hair would cause less problems, but with it comes a whole new set. Not only is there the constant up keep of the short hair, but there is the intense heat loss. (I have taken to wearing a hat in bed it is that bad. Saying that I think this is down too the Erivedge too). Then there is the need to keep my scalp protected in the sun.

Calypso Sun care offer a wide range of products and in amongst them is Scalp Protection Lotion.

img_1008 img_1012

The formula is SPF 30. The non greasy formula comes in a spray bottled and is to be generously applied to the scalp or hair. It is water resistant and quick drying but the advice that Calypso give is that you should reapply frequently due to perspiration, swimming or towelling.


I found the spray to be pleasant in fragrance and also very easy to apply. There is nothing worse with sun creams and lotions than the thick greasy feeling you get. The ones that you have to massage and massage until it goes away. There is none of that with this lotion as it is thin and clear. I would describe it as having a thin oil texture.

One of the things we have to do as parents to the girls is too make sure that the school are very aware of the girls needs. Although there are not many, there could be, heaven forbid, anything went wrong.

The school knows that they need to wear sun cream and they help them with this, however they do prefer them to able to apply their own cream. Libby has become very good at doing so and Penny is getting there slowly but surely. I am always on the look out for products the girls can use. Calypso do a Once a Day Cream that is ideal.

img_1019  img_1018

The cream is 40 SPF and is Photostable. The treatment is once a day and is water resistant. Very easy to apply and the smallest amount goes a very long way. The product smells very pleasant and isn’t remotely greasy. It feels like you are applying a moisturiser rather than a sun cream.

img_1026 img_1022

(Before school this morning, hence the PJ’s)

The test of course with this one was with the children. Penny was very impressed with the smell. Libby has applied it herself and said she really likes the feel of the cream. She said it was far easier to rub in as it disappeared quicker than the brand we currently use.


All in all I am very impressed with the products. These products are perfect for anyone. For us in particular they are great for the everyday use we need them for, especially during the cold months. (We have to use an SPF 50 when the warmer weather starts to kick in). Calypso have some exciting products that are available on the high street, and I can not wait to see what else they have in the pipe line.

Calypso can be found online and via Social Media. (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram)