The Works

It all started when I was browsing The Works for ideas for Christmas gifts, I’ve noticed lots of people on my various timelines saying they’ve started their Christmas shopping, one or two have even finished it! I felt I ought to catch up with them. I am subscribed to The Woks newsletter as they often have some excellent bargains and if there’s one thing I like to buy my children it is books.

So I started browsing for some great ideas and I came across the perfect book for the twins, The Disney Princess Storybook collection, a book filled with princess stories. My problem is do I buy 1 or 2? Then I noticed they had the Disney Christmas Storybook collection so I decided on one of each which they can then swap. It will also remind them of their fabulous Disneyland Paris trip this summer. At only £5 each I think these hardbacks are excellent value for money.

Disney Princess Storybook

Intrigued I searched a bit further and discovered they have toys and Christmas Crafts too

So here are my top ten Christmas gifts from The Works

1. Disney Storybooks – £5

2. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid game – Don’t Scramble the Egg Game £17.99 (Looks so much fun!)

3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Leonardo construction set was £9.99 now £3.99

4. Amazing Space Rockets – was £12 buy for £5.99

5. Doctor Who special anniversary 11 doctors edition puzzle 500 pieces  – £4.99

6. Dinosaurs Love Underpants book and jigsaw – £3.00

7. Disney Frozen Art Case 52 pieces  – £4.99

8. The World of David Walliams boxset – was £34.95 buy for £19.99

9. Knit your own baubles kit – £6.99

10. The Stocking Filler section – go there and take a look.

Luckily when you have finished browsing and added a few things to your basket you’ll see they also sell Christmas wrapping paper, very nice prints and very reasonable prices, all delivered to your door, the only thing they don’t off is to wrap the stuff!

Have you found any online bargains yet?

cranberry flapjacks

If you, like me, still have a pot of cranberry sauce in the fridge leftover from Christmas and you’re not quite sure what to do with it, this could be the perfect solution.

Cranberry flapjacks, which are perfect for healthy snacks in lunch boxes, after school or with a cup of coffee.

They are so simple to make you won’t believe it and of course very versatile as you can change the cranberry filling with many other fruit fillings. I’ve added an apple puree idea in the variations section of the recipe card below

[yumprint-recipe id=’19’]And for an idea of the layering take a look here – all that’s needed is the final third of the oat mixture spread on top and presto in the oven it goes

cranberry flapjacks

memory jar 2014

I started 2013 knowing it was going to be a year filled with joy and laughter, there was to be a wedding, our wedding, holidays at Butlins, in France and a trip to Guernsey. I also knew that the tiny things in life are also special and one day I came across a fabulous idea – a Memory Jar.

What is a memory jar?

A Memory Jar is where you keep all the positive things that happen throughout your year. You pile them all in and at the end of the year you spend a little time and look back on what you have done and achieved. You re-read the funny things your children say, you relive the shows and films you went to through the ticket stubs, gasp again at the size of that cream tea you devoured on a bank holiday through a photo. Anything that meant something to you in a certain place at a certain time during the year, add a memory.

How do I make a memory jar?

Anything will do that will contain your memories, a glass jar with a colourful ribbon tied at the top? For 2013 I was late to the party, I didn’t have time to go out and get a jar so I finished off a box of my favourite Salted Caramel chocolates – a memory in itself – and started using that with every intention of changing further down the line. But I never got round to it :)

memory box 2013

We’ve just had Christmas, if you don’t have a glass jar to hand, don’t panic, an empty tin, tea caddy, chocolate box will do. Something you can put in an accessible place  and add bits as you go through your year.

There will be quieter times of the year when you have time to sit down and write notes and other moments will be frenetic where you stuff bits in with every intention of going back later and ‘tidying’ them up. Does it matter? You decide. I never tidied mine up and I did realise towards October that my box was too small. So get yourself a BIG container and start saving memories.

Can I just say put it somewhere that will nudge your memory to use it, kitchen window sill? Bedside table? A place you visit frequently.

Sometimes life can throw us a rough hand and everything seems to take on a grey hue, this will help you pick out the bits that are good and by focusing on them and not the grey you can see that life is good if you know where to look.

What shall I put in my jar?

I won’t run you through my entire year but here are my top memories that bring joy to me re-reading them :)

memories 2013

Post it notes with short written memories ie 1st Jan –

Funny things the kids say

Beautiful places you have been too

A lock of your husbands hair? A fallen button off his shirt (I didn’t get either if these in 2013 by the way)

A train ticket from the time he took you to a show.

An acorn – I have an acorn from a walk we did in the autumn in Camer Park close by looking for conkers, there were none left but I did come home with an acorn.

Flower petals from a bouquet or the apple tree you planted.

The name of that fantastic book that really touched you

memory jar

I’m already running through my preparations for Christmas, running down the freezer to make room for more and thinking about the Best Meal of The Year and how to make it even better.

I have my turkey – it’s in the freezer along with some delicious mini cumberland sausages to make pigs in blankets with and some sausagemeat to make stuffing. Have you decided on your stuffing yet? Husband has said no nuts, so no nuts it will be but I watched a fabulous idea by Tom Kerridge on tv last night that I certainly want to try out.

My plan is once the girls are at home to have to go for one last shop on Monday/Tuesday for the vegetables and fresh goods and the rest of the time do fun things together.

I want to rope them into the preparations this year that include decorations and wrapping but also making mince pies and chocolate truffles. I want to try a chocolate crunch recipe I’ve found and I also want to spruce up my vegetables for the big day. If I get time I’ll blog the recipes too! Ho, ho ho.

brighthouse kitchen

I love this excellent Christmas Kitchen infographic by Brighthouse with loads of interactive clicks around it that give out great tips, it’s really very useful, there are tips on how to organise your fridge – always make sure any uncooked meat is below any cooked meat and cover food is two of my top tips.

Click on the turkey and you get a whole load of ideas for the perfect christmas dinner.

Clicking on the radio made me smile as the ultimate Christmas playlist comes up, my sister in law, who is Christmas music crazy would LOVE this.

Importantly is the bin section which focuses on food waste, remember there are so many recipes you can find to use up leftovers, some of my own favourites to bookmark are 

Turkey and ham pie – this is VERY good, trust me and packed with meat. I love a meat packed pie don’t you?

You could try these Turkey puff parcels using dome ready to roll puff pastry and adapting the mixture to use up your leftovers

and of course don’t forget a very simple Turkey stir fry

Cheeseboard quiche – I love cheese but when it’s just bits leftover don’t throw them away make this quiche, the kids will love it

Another cheese recipe is my Quattro formaggi and chorizo quiche – that’s Italian for 4 cheese but by adding a bit of chorizo or spicy salami (maybe leftover from the antipasto) hey presto you have a delicious quiche to serve up for a tea, use easy roll shortcrust but always take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes before working it to allow the temperature to rise ;)

Head over and take a look, it’s fun and very useful too

Disclosure: This post is partnered with Brighthouse

Santa at Shorne Country Park

Mummy why is he wearing a green suit?

If I hadn’t have bought the twins raffle tickets for the school Christmas fayre I most likely would never have known about this fantastic local experience but I did buy all ten of their tickets as the money goes back to the school and I got a phone call this week informing me we had won a prize!

Our prize was two tickets to visit Santa’s Grotto at our local Shorne Country Park. For those of you not from our area Shorne is a beautiful village just up the road from us, it is my ideal village to live in, country pub, small local school, local post office and shop plus the most amazing country park which we have visited and talked about on here many a time.

When I read the letter it said open from 12 pm till 3pm present the letter at the shop and all would be explained.

On presentation of our letter we were handed a clipboard each and instructed that Santa’s reindeers had wandered off in the woods, Santa needed to know they were all there and safe, could we go and check please?

 Santa's Grotto Shorne Country Park

Off we went, the twins were perfectly capable of following the green arrows and discovering the reindeers by themselves. It was fantastic to hear them squealing with delight ‘I can see one!’ as they spotted the next one. It was lovely to watch them write the name of the found reindeer next to the corresponding number on their clipboard.

 Shorne Country Park - Sant's Grotto

The path follows the shortest of the walking trails through the woods and conveniently passes by the park where we stopped for a good play before discovering our final three reindeer.

Shorne Country Park - Sant's Grotto

Shorne Country Park - Sant's Grotto

Shorne Country Park - Sant's Grotto

Shorne Country Park - Sant's Grotto

The final reindeer, no 20, of course is Rudolph with a lovely, shiny red nose and then it’s back to the visitor centre where a lovely lady is waiting with a table and crafting bits to make your own reindeer.

Shorne Country Park - Sant's Grotto

The girls loved it and our reindeer are sitting proudly in the front room as I type.

Reindeer completed we moved on to Santa’s grotto, an elf asked us to wait whilst Santa finished with the children that arrived before us and then it was out turn. We entered and Santa sat surrounded by twinkling lights, teddy bears and bales of hay.

The girls were dumbstruck and I had to help them with their answers to the big guy and when he asked what they’d like to receive for Christmas they BOTH came up with new ideas forgetting what had been written on their lists!!!

How was Santa to know that? He said good choice I’ll make sure to put them in my sack.

So now I have to hunt down a Snow White doll and a 2 wheel scooter.

Our verdict – GENIUS, brilliant. Fresh air, a great ‘treasure trail’ to follow and fabulous gifts from Santa, both girls came away with Julia Donaldson books.

Price per child £5

Also watch out for the Winter Holiday Activity Trail, £2.50 per activity sheet, follow the clues, answer the questions and complete the trail to receive a prize

One thing Santa, the girls at home later asked why you were wearing a green suit, we told them your red one was probably in the wash so please don’t forget the red one on the 24th just in case they open their eyes ;)