Category: Christmas

Christmas 2015

Part of the reason I blog is to record the moments, to be able to look back on them and to cherish every single moment. This Christmas has been a quiet one for The Mad House, but wonderful and very family centric. The older I get the more I realise that the joy I experience more »

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Christmas, it is all about the presence not the presents

The older I get the more I realise that Christmas is not all about what you give or get, but about being there with your family. This was compounded with a health scare and even more when my mum died at Christmas four years ago.  So now MadDad and I focus on our presence rather more »

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Cornflour dough tealight holders for Solstice

We live in Northern England and during this time of year it is dark and we love to light up our home with candles and decided to make some cornflour dough tealight holders for Solstice.  Maxi decided to make them in the shape of the sun to celebrate the shortest day and welcome the lengthening more »

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White clay dough. Corn Flour dough, a fab alternative to salt dough

We have made corn flour dough before, but using salt, however, I was keen to find a different recipe with more of a smooth texture that was a bit more malleable for the boys to use. We have tried Nurturestore’s 2 ingredient white dough  and love it, but we also tried the following white clay more »

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Be inspired to cook with your kids and win an eBay voucher

I hope that my previous post about crafting with your kids this Christmas inspired you to get creative with your kids.  Now for part two! So what else I am inspired by at this time of year, well if you are a regular reader then it will come as no surprise to you that it is more »

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Holidays are coming – Give a little happiness

Holidays are coming, holidays are coming, holidays are coming, its always the real thing…………… You know when the Coke advert comes on that Christmas is on it’s way and now even the Coke lorry tours the country.  We have never seen it, but Cass from Diary of a Frugal Family has. This year however, I more »

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Robin Thumbprint Mugs

Every year we make fingerprint mugs for the teachers for Christmas.  In the past we have made Reindeer mugs and flower mugs, pigs, caterpillars and bees.  This year we decided to do Robin’s like last years Robin cards.  These Robin thumbprint mugs are so simple to make and really effective for kids of all ages. more »

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Great gifts for Bloggers

Bloggers we are a fickle bunch and we seem to have a gift list as long as your arms, well the ones I ask do, so here is our great gifts for bloggers list curated by Mum in the Mad House.

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Great gifts for Dad’s

Men can be difficult to buy for, so I thought I would share with you some of the things that Husbeast has had and loved.  Some of these recommendations are of things we have received to review, some of them, things that we have bought and he has loved. So here are the Mad House’s more »

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Great gifts for Mums

When I was younger I would have got really upset at receiving something for the house as a present, but no it thrills me to get something that I want! I also have found that the older I have got the more expensive my tastes have become!  Below are The Mad House’s guide to great more »

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Putting together a Christmas Eve Hamper and other Christmas Eve Tradition

One of our Mad House traditions carried over from my own childhood is new night wear on Christmas Eve so that we always look smart in the photo’s on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve is a magical time, full of excitement and awe and we have a Christmas Eve party each year with my best Friend more »

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How to make cake case Christmas trees

Christmas is a great time for encouraging kids to get creative and a great way to do this is to present them with an #invitation to create.  These Christmas trees decorated with cak cases are so easy to make and can be adapted for kids of all ages. How to make Cake case Christmas trees

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Making the most of the magic

One of the highlights of having children is getting to re-live the excitement of Christmas. That magic and mystery that gets lost somewhere around the dawn of our teenage years is suddenly back and it’s so much fun to experience it again, this time as a parent. It feels imperative to make the most of more »

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Movies, Festive Popcorn and Festive Popcorn boxes -#Spon

One of our favorite family tradition is all snuggling up together and enjoying a family film and to celebrate this we are working with Sky Movies this Christmas and sharing their personalised Sky Movies #MovieMe Christmas Cards, along with our festive sugar and spice seasoning and free popcorn box printables.

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Animal Safe Magic Reindeer food and free printable labels

Reindeer food is one of our Christmas Eve traditions and we love to make it as much as the boys love sprinkling it outside for the reindeer.    We have great fun each year making it for family and friends and this year I am excited to share with you 7 great free printable labels more »

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Christmas Memories Book and Christmas reflections printable

Can you remember what you got for Christmas last year or the year before?  I know that I can’t.  In fact as I get older these things seem more and more important to me, so this year I am going to create a Christmas memories book for us to use. Sort of like a scrapbook where more »

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Tree decorations inspired by The Fir Tree

We love making decorations as a family for our Christmas tree and this year we are joining in again with 10 days of kid made ornaments and this year they are inspired by a book.  So ours are tree decorations inspired by The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Anderson. Each year we buy new christmas more »

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Make your own Christmas Crackers

One of our family traditions is homemade christmas crackers.  Since as long as I can remember we had small cracker presents on the dining table usually made by my mum.  They were precious things that were small and once I got older we each took a turn year on year to make the crackers and more »

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Make an Advent Candle or wreath

We love advent and one of the ways we celebrate is to have an advent wreath or ring that we light each sunday to help celebrate the lead up to Christmas.  The first Sunday of advent for 2014 in November 30th.  Me and the boys have spend the last few days making this years advent more »

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Our ultimate advent activity list 2014

Our ultimate advent activity list was such a success last year, so we have updated it for this year and it now has 75 activities on it.

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Santa Hat Christmas Cards – 5 minute craft

We are all about the Christmas cards at the moment and today I want to share with you a really simple Santa Hat Christmas card that is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers to make.  It is also the perfect 5 minute craft. How to make Santa Hat Christmas Cards

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Our #PaypalMoments on The Polar Express UK

We are working with PayPal this Christmas on their Magical Christmas Moment #PayPalMoments campaign.  It is an ace competition where they are giving people the chance to win some great prizes (find out more on the PayPal Facebook Page). They challenged me to shop for Christmas using PayPal and then share with you our Magical Moments that more »

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Easy Ribbon Christmas for kids to make

There is nothing nicer than receiving a homemade Christmas card and these simple ribbon Christmas cards are so easy for you to make with kids of all ages.

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Ways to use your free advent acts of kindness printables

So you saw my recent post with the 50 advent acts of kindness with the two free printable sets designed by the lovely Purple Pumpkin blog. Well I wanted to share with you ways to display them or use them. We tried to make it easy for you all by offering them in two different more »

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An Alternative Advent Calendar – Acts of Kindness by kids

Advent, we love it.  It is a BIG thing here in The Mad House.  We use advent as a way to celebrate the build up to Christmas and to take the commercialism out of it.   The MiniMads have not yet had a chocolate advent calendar, although I might bend to their wishes this year! more »

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Putting Christmas in to perspective

It has been something of a challenging couple of weeks here in The Mad House.  I was not very well up on returning from our fantastic holiday in Florida (more on that to follow) and have had to spend some time in hospital.  Christmas and my 40th Birthday have really had to take a back more »

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Our favorite Christmas Movies

We are an eclectic bunch in the Mad House, but one thing we all love is Christmas Movies and snuggling up on the couch watching them together.  Now thanks to Laura Ashley we have a new throw to snuggle under and watch our movies and the Tartan Cranberry Check Cotton Mix Throw is perfect in colour to more »

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Kid Made Christmas Decoration’s – Cotton Reels

I love this time of year, It makes me feel all crafty so the boys and I decided to make some vintage spool christmas decorations to combine my love of sewing and their of making things for Christmas.  They love looking back at the decorations they have made in previous years.

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2013 Gingerbread House

One of our advent traditions is to make  and decorate a gingerbread house.  With being out of the country this year we accepted a pre cooked one from Sykes Cottages to build and decorate.  Unfortunately ours came a little damaged (hence the silver foil bottom), but I managed to get it stuck together and then provided more »

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Festive Jam Jar candle holders

  I love candle light, especially during the Autumn and winter months when the dark nights are upon us.  There is something warming and comforting and these festive jam jar candle holders are so easy to make.

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Great Kids books for Advent and Christmas

Now that we have got down the Advent box, I thought it was time to share with you some of our favorite books about Advent and Christmas.

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Beauty buys to put on your Christmas list

I used to be something of a beautyaholic.  I adore potions and lotions  and BC (before Children) I would spend my hard earned cash on lots of new and exciting cosmetics that promised the world.  I loved the packaging, the anticipation and the whole buying something for me. Now my life is different.  The only more »

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Reindeer Food Tutorial and Free tag roundup

We love Reindeer food.  It is a tradition in The Mad House to go out and sprinkle it on Christmas Eve and to track Santa on Norad.  There are endless recipes for Reindeer food on the internet and mine is no different or special, but it is much loved and used over the years.

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Christmas Eve Gifts and Making Christmas Eve Magical

Once of my favorite tradition over the festive period is the Christmas Eve Gifts which are left from our Christmas Eve Elves.  I adore Christmas Eve, there is something really special about the anticipation of Christmas Day and we spend it as a family as MadDad always tried to get it off.  We make sure more »

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Easy child friendly Fabric Christmas Cards

Making christmas cards is tradition in The Mad House.  We love making them for people that we love and we don’t buy many cards at all. This card is fantastic for encouraging cutting skills and you can use any off cuts of fabric and felt that you have.

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Do not let the thought of Christmas make you panic

I read a really thoughtful and insightful post over at Tales from a Happy Home, where Gillian noted that she noted the Christmas countdowns as they tended to make her feel panicked about Christmas looming ever closer. The thing is Christmas is not supposed to be a time of stress and strain or panic, but more »

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Air drying clay ornements

Every year we make salt dough or corn flour ornaments and unfortunately they got damp in storage and they were ruined, so this got me thinking about using air drying clay for a more permanent christmas decoration.

Initially I made three from some left over clay we had and decorated them myself with out the boys involvement and was really pleased with the way they turned out. So I decided to have a go with the boys.

Materials:

Air drying clay
Cookie cutters
Plastic roller (i used the boys old playdough one!
Silicon cooking mat
straw
Clear sealant or modge podge
decorations (we used buttons and felt)
Nailfile
ribbon
Glue (we used a craft glue gun)
Method:

I would recommend that you make your ornaments a couple of days in advance to decorating them.

Firstly work the air drying clay well in your hands until it becomes more supple and easier to roil.
Roll out an amount on the silicone mat (4mm) is an idea depth.
Using a cookie cutter cut out your decoration shapes.
Remove the decorations from the mat on to a board to dry.
Using a straw make a hole in the top to thread your ribbon.
Also smooth the sides of your ornaments to make for smoother edges.
Allow to dry (do not dry over a heat source or they will crack.
Once dry take the nail file and smooth any rough edges.
Then apply a clear sealant or modge podge (PVA). I did this with my first set of ornaments.
Decorate and attach the ribbon.
The second set I did with the boys are a lot more rough and ready, but then they do like to take over and so they should. They decided to decorate them before we even sealed them. However, they look great and I am really pleased with them

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Reindeer cookies using gingerbread men cutters

  We first made these back in December 2010 and I still use my not so ginery gingerbread recipe.  I think I first saw this on Martha Stewart’s web site a long time ago and we have been making them every year since and they have become part of our Christmas and Advent tradition.

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#CreativeTable and #AfterschoolFun Decorating snowflakes

The amazing Rachelle at Tinkerlab has a regular Creative Table Inspiration hashtag on Instagram that I love and it has really helped me in the way that I plan for my  After School Fun Activities with the boys.  This week we have been decorating some snowflakes that we have been sent from Yellow Moon.

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The ultimate advent activity list

Advent for me is part of the way of getting away from the whole consumerism of Christmas Day.  As a family we have our own advent calendar that I made and we do an activity each day throughout advent, which helps us focus on the true meaning of christmas for us.  Plus I have to more »

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#ElfCam – Share your Elf Pictures

Do you have a christmas Elf or an Elf on the Shelf? We got our Elf last year and he keeps an eye on the comings and goings in the Mad House and we grew to love him.  Elfs are very popular at the moment and some Elf’s are remarkable active and have such an more »

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Getting organised for Christmas

How do you get organised for Christmas?  I have to admit that I revert back to my type A personality when planning Christmas.  We focus a lot on advent and the lead up to Christmas in The Mad House.  I feel that by doing an activity each day we are concentrating on the mean of more »

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Make an Advent Box

For the last three years we have made sure that when we pack up the Christmas decorations that we pack an Advent Box.  This box contains things we might need before we actually get all the decorations down and decorate the house.

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Homemade Christmas

Homemade Christmas

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What does christmas mean to me?

Christmas, it is a bit of a bittersweet time for me. It is filled with the joy and excitement of two innocent boys, but also the memory of my mum’s unexpected and sudden death two years ago. Christmas Day will forever be associated with seeing my Mum dead in her kitchen on Christmas morning, but I can not let the past shape the future.

So my Memories are split in two. There is the memory of Christmas past, of tissue thin sheets of wrapping paper, eye shut tight of christmas eve listening for the sleigh bells, pillowcases instead of stockings, coming down on Christmas Eve to find my Dad standing at the door with a longed for Petite Typewriter. It is Christmas days long ago of a Sindy House rapped in a candy coloured stripped sheet. It is delicious family filled Christmas dinners after Dad and Granddad returned from a swift one at the Pub. Boxing days spent with cousins, parkin and corned beef pie. Board games and cocktails. Sisters living and loving each other.

Of carefree and joyfilled Christmas spent with family. Once the boys graced us with our presence we experienced the excitement though their eyes and Christmas became about crafting, cooking, making and creating memories. We made advent a time of activities. We cemented memories with our traditions. We went to my Mum’s to help wrap her presents. She helped me to cook Christmas dinner.

And then she was no more………………

So now I try to make Christmas a time of making, creating, cooking and crafting. I think of my Mum and the time we spend doing the same as I was growing up and in my actions I honor her memory. I allow the pain and grief to be there, but do not make it mark my days and nights. More than ever Christmas is about making memories, so that when my children grow they look back at this time with both wonder and joy and they come to realise that Christmas is all about family.

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Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas is not about how much money you spend, but how much time you spend with the people you love. I love Christmas and I love spending time with my family. I like Christmas Eve to be a day of joy. Since the boys were small we introduced Christmas Eve Elves. Basically they delivered each year a bag for each of the boys with things to keep them busy and entertained on this exciting day.

This year the bags include:

New Pyjamas (so they look their best on Christmas Morning in pictures)
A How to draw book each
New Gel Pens
A new family Movie – Brave
A family Game for the XBox
Reindeer food
Snowman Soup
A new book for bedtime
On Christmas Eve I will visit Mum’s grave and take a basket of flowers. We then spend the rest of the day at home. MadDad prepared all the veg etc for the next day, then we settle down to family time. We make cranberry and popcorn chains for our tree outside for the birds whilst we watch a movie. We make our snowman soup, play board games and generally have quality family time together. We try to keep the day as relaxed as possible.

As the daylight fades we wrap up warm and go for a walk round the neigbourhood to take a peek at everyone’s christmas decorations and lights and to try and tire the boys out so they sleep.

We end the evening with a bath to carols, then we sprinkle our reindeer food and leave a special key outside so Father Christmas can open our door. The last thing the boys do before bed is to leave Father Christmas a mince pie and a drink on the plate that I made them

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With this chocolate (and wine) you are really spoiling me!

Raffaello
Matched with Martini Asti NV from the Piedmont region of Italy.I had never had Raffaello before, but they are now my favorite Ferraro chocolate. They are like little christmas snow morsels wrapped in a coconut waver and are very moreish. In fact me and Cass struggled to put these away and loved this combination. Martini Asti is my MIL’s favorite tipple and is perfectly matched to these delicate and delicious chocolates.

Ferrero Rond Noir
Matched with Dows Finest Reserve Port. I really wanted to love this combination, but couldn’t. Normally I am a dark chocolate person, but for some reason I wasn’t as keen. Now this may have been due to the fact that I really loved the Raffaello and nothing would match that perfect combination. However, MadDad loved the richness of both the chocolate and port and said if was the perfect indulgence for an evening in front of the fire (If we had a fire)!
Classic Gold Ferrero Rocher
Matched with Croix Milhas Rivesaltes Ambre‘ (Languedoc-Roussillon, France). Christmas isn’t Christmas without these delicious balls of heavenly crisp and soft chocolates. No one in my tasting team liked the wine on it’s own, but when paired with the chocolates it made a real difference. They really brought out the best in each other. This combination really testing me and I found that once I had a couple it really was appealing. MadDad did not like the wine at all.

I was firstly amazed at just how big the Ferrero range was and secondly just how delicious chocolate can be when paired with the right wine. It takes the whole chocolate experience up a notch and also makes it a really enjoyable experience.

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How to film Nativity plays

http://www.panasonic.co.uk/html/en_GB/289750/module/general/compare/productsCategory.html

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A Frugal Christmas and a Debt Free New Year

Are you cutting back this Christmas? Research by the Co-Operative Bank shows that a third of us are spending less this year than last year and nearly two thirds of us keeping our budget the same.

I am a great believer that in order to have a good christmas, you need to take a step back and realise that it isn’t about what you get it is about spending time with the ones you love and really enjoying spending time together. We have had a fantastic advent, making, baking and just generally having fun together and I am so looking forward to spending some time with all my family over the next couple of weeks.

Looking at the infographic below as was shocked to find that I live in the region spending the most and just how much less we have spent. This just goes to reinforce with me that you do not have to spend to find happiness.

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Some last minute christmas Gift ideas

If you are still wondering about what gifts to give people, then why not take a look at my last minute gift guide.

ATK All Terrain Kart – £175

Now I do not have a review for you on this as the weather has not been kind to us and we haven’t had time to really put it though it’s paces, so will be coming back to you in Spring with a full review What I will say is it is a great size for older children when they outgrow their other ride ons. It is aimed at 7 to 12 year olds and it is a perfect pitch. My boys are beside themselves to go on it for more than 5 minutes!

Sound Asleep Pillow – From £12

My boys love listening to music in bed and often go to sleep with either music on or listening to a story and with these fab pillows they can listen to MP3 players without having to use speakers or headphones. Mini’s has come in very handy to play his Relax Kids MP3’s which I swear by. You can see Miss Frugal using hers. The boys are younger, so I make sure that I put the music on for them.

LEGO Creationary – £20

We love LEGO. In a BIG way. We bought he boys this for last christmas and it has been one of our most played family games. We ALL love to play this together, even I can win at this. You choose a card and have to build what is on it and your team member has to guess what it is. The wonder of LEGO games is that you can change the rules to suit you, so we have timed races, who can built the best, build offs and lots of other games all from the one box. It is brill and I do not say that lightly.

Brabantia Tea41
I am a tea monster and I love this set from Brabantia as it is perfect for me during the day when I want a cup of tea, but do not want to make a pot as I am a tea leave user. It is also perfect for herbal teas and infusions such as mint tea. It contains everything you need to enjoy the perfect cup of tea. The tea buddy is so handy it attaches to the side of the cup and can be used to carry your biscuit, cake, chocolate or even put your used tea bag in (Yes I know not everyone uses leaves).

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Three Layer Peppermint Bark

Meanwhile, combine the dark chocolate, cream, and peppermint extract in a saucepan. Warm over -low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is just melted and smooth.
Cool to barely lukewarm, about 5 minutes and pour the dark chocolate mixture over the white chocolate rectangle.
Using a spatula chocolate in an even layer.
Chill until very cold , which is about 25 minutes.
Rewarm the remaining white chocolate over barely simmering water and then pour the white chocolate over the firm dark chocolate layer, using your spatula to spread it to cover.
Sprinkle with remaining crushed candy canes.

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Home made Christmas wreaths

There is something about Christmas that just inspires me and I think I have said before we do not buy the adults in our family Christmas gifts, so this year I decided to make use of my dried orange slices and make some home made christmas wreaths for my mother in law and sister in law.

Materials:

Artificial wreath (I wanted it to last year to year)
Dried orange slices
Florists wire
Cinnamon sticks (from the florist as they are much cheaper)
Florists wire
Ribbon
Glue gun
Decorations (I used both wooden ones and also felt one too)
I got my smaller wreaths from Tesco for 97p and the larger ones from Hobby Craft on a three for two for £3.49

Method:

Firstly I dried my oranges slices and allowed them to dry.
For each wreath I made five orange, ribbon and cinnamon decorations by tying a bow in the ribbon and threading some florist wire through the back, then thread the wire through the orange slice. Using the glue gun apply a blob of glue to the rear of the orange and attach the cinnamon stick and wrap with the wire and allow to dry.
Then position your orange decorations on the wreath and using the wire tie them in.
Attach any other decorations or embellishments either with florists wire or a hot glue gun.

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Family hand print Christmas tree canvass

My friend Cass at Frugal Family made a hand print Christmas Tree a couple of years ago, which I have admired each year, but the thought of cutting out all those hand prints really put me off because I am far too lazy. So I put my thinking cap on and when I was in the bargain store the other day I saw an A2 sized canvass for less that £3 and had an epiphany and the above is what was made.

I used things that I had in, so tempura paint in green and then added a little blue to darken it. Paper plates to hold the paint and decided that we would all get involved, even MadDad.

We had a great time making it and started with the largest hands at the bottom and then did each line with smaller ones. Even the star at the top is the boys fingers. Once the tree was dry we added a fingerprint garland and I used brown paint to add the date as the trunk of the tree.

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Must have Christmas Gifts for Scooter Lovers

I have made no secret that as a family we love Micro Scooters. Both the boys have a Maxi Micro, we also have a Macro Sprite and one of their stunt scooters. We are also loving the accosories that they have and the boys have been testing some more out.

Scoot Beamz (£6.99)

These have been a huge hit and I have had four of the local mums ask me about them. They are lights that for on to any scooter. You can have them on fast flash, slow flash or constant and they come in four colours. They make the boys stand out on dark and dismal days.

Rucksack (£25)

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Christmas decorating with dried orange slices

So you have dried your oranges, what do you do with them?

Well I wanted to make wreaths for my nearest and dearest, so I bought some decorative cinnamon from the florists and set to making and creating.

It was very simple. I picked up the wreath for less than a pound at Tesco. I also used cinnamon, florists wire, ribbon and some wooden cuts pouts I purchased from Paper and String. They look great and smell delicious too.

I also made a selection of ornaments too:

Other uses for dried orange slices

Make seasonal potpori
Fill a jar with them for a table center peice
use them to decoprate wrapped presents
Make bunting by adding to popcorn and cranberry strings (great for outdoor trees)
Thread through florists wire to make a wreath
Use to decorate napkin rings

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How to dry orange slices

ave always loved the look of dried orange slices and there were plenty of them used in decorations at York Christmas Market when we visited, so I wanted to try making some myself They are very easy to make and really effective too.

Materials

Oranges
Knife
Oven
Wire tray (I used one of my cooling trays)
Method

The hardest part of this is having the patience to wait for them to be dry!
Slice your oranges in to 1 cm strips. Make sure that you cut the oranges cross ways so you get the pretty segmented look. Discard the ends.
Blot any excess juice on to a paper towel or tea towel.
Place the slices on to a wire rack.
Place in your oven at 90 degrees centigrade for 3 hours, turning once.
Allow to dry overnight.
I made a second batch and dipped them in lemon juice which is supposed to preserve the colour, but there was no difference at all! The house smelt delicious when I was drying them and you could also use a dehydrator if you have one, but it is days like today that have been dreaming about owning an Aga.

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Stocking fillers for six and seven year old boys

Both the boys have stockings that I made for them when they were first born and each year I fill them with an assortment of items.

So my top tips for stocking fillers this year are:

Playmobil Fi?ures (£1.97)

What can I say you can never have too much Playmobil!

Magic Spring £1.49 – Yellow Moon

Perfect for children of any age. My boys love watching it spring itsr way down the stairs! Size 75mm

Notebooks by Jennie Maizel £3.99

We are huge fans of Jennie in the Mad House. Mini is a big fan of her London range and her notebooks are fab. Great quality and super designs, plus free postage in the UK.

Speed Racer Sets – !1.49 Yellow Moon

Fab mini construction sets from Yellow Moon, which are easy to assemble and really great value for money.

Stabilo Pens

We particularly love the EASY Original pen (£6.99) which is designed to aid children learn to write with easy to grip areas and specifically for left handers or right handers. We have loved these pens so much that I went out and bought the boys an EASYergo pencil (£6.99) each. The boys have found them very easy to grip and use.

Other items that go in every year are:

Chocolate coins, a toothbrush, a mandarin, marbles and lip chap.

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York Christmas Market

As a family we love York. It is only an hours drive for us and somewhere that we enjoy visiting and browsing. This past weekend was St Nicholas Fayre in York, which is billed as one of the most popular Christmas markets in the UK, with thousands of visitors coming to York over the four-day event.

We hadn’t been to York for a while, so thought that we would try and do some Christmas shopping at the Fayre and gave both the boys their pocket money and we set off with a challenge to try and buy presents for my mother in law and farther in law.

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Homemade Christmas – Decorate a pillar candle

I measured my candle both height and circumference (I used a piece of wool for the circumference!) and cut my tissue paper to size.
Then I cut a larger piece of waxed paper
Wrap the tissue around the candle and then cover with the wax paper, pulling it tight. The wax paper makes this easier to do and stops you burning your hands especially with thinner candles.
Then use the heat gun or hairdryer to melt the surface wax and the tissue paper will adhere to the candle.
I have been burning the candle and the tissue does remain and not burn, but this paper is rather thicker than standard tissue paper. I remember making these with my mum and we used the old fashioned sheets of wrapping paper (it was very thin) and rather than cover the whole candle we would cut an image out and just apply that. We would then cover with glitter that was iridescent and OK to burn. You can add glitter to your candles, but I would suggest using a water based glue and cosmetic grade glitters.

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Top toys for 6 and 7 year old boys

Maxi and Mini have both loved this play set and we have had hours of fun challenging each other with our own cup competitions. It is great as it packs up relatively small and is easy to play. Mini has had hours of fun just role playing with the characters and I have proven that I can beat both the boys at football! This is a great gift for any football made boy or girl and a really great value gift.

Wappy Dog (£25)

Wappy Dog is a game for the Nintendo DS and it has been a huge hit with Mini. Our Wappy Dog is called Ninja, which is a much better name, as I keep calling it yappy dog! So what is it. Well it is an interactive game with its own character dog. You feed it, pet, it, look after it, but you also play games with it. For a family without a dog it is great as it doesn’t cost anything once bought and it doesn’t need feeding with real food or taking for walks in the dark weather! Mini specifically loves playing rock, paper, scissors and fruit catch with his Wappy Dog.

Angry Birds Trilogy for Nintendo DS (£37)

Angry birds are taking over the world or so it seems. This is the perfect game for maxi, who has loved it. It is such a simple concept but captures his imagination and he just loves it as will many children of his age. Oh and Maddad has been know to play on it when he is in bed! It has Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio, it didn’t take long for Maxi and MadDad to be hooked on the straightforward yet satisfying game lay that defines Angry Birds. There are 19 episodes, each with an exclusive new level that will keep you interested and ready for more.

LEGO Darth Vader and Storm Trouper Torches (£15 each)

What is it about boys and torches? These have been a MASSIVE hit in The Mad House. They are ingenious and for two Star Wars and LEGO mad boys these are great presents. They have been left on a lot and we are still on our original set of batteries after 4 weeks, but you do have to buy your own as they do not come with them. Darth Vader’s light saber is removable and also lights up perfect for role play with evil Jedi teddies!

On the Wish List

This year the boys have also asked for the following for Christmas:

Guinness book of Records 2013

Skylander Giants for Wii

New Bikes (20 inch as both of them has grown so much)

Jaffa Cakes – Mini!

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Our Advent and Christmas Books

I love each and everyone of them for different reasons and would love for you to share your Christmas books with me, so that we can expand our library.

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Perfect Christmas Gifts for people who have it all!

We are a pretty small family and do not but a lot of presents, but sometimes it can be really hard to know what to by for people. So I thought I would let you know some of my ideas of things for people that are really hard to buy for. Some of these things I have been asked to review, others I have purchased myself and really loved.

UGG Slippers

Yes these are expensive at £100, but……. they are perfect for the woman who has everything and would love to have warm toasty feet. My MIL would love these, but I am not for giving up the pair I got for review and I am not a slipper person. These are the most substantial slippers I have ever tried and are very warm and cosy. I am all about value and would hope that the cost per wear on these slippers was similar to others on the market nad that I would get years worth of wear from them.

Personalised Heart Bracelet

Personalised jewelry is a great gift for a woman, especially when it is as stylish and easy to wear as this personalised heart bracelet from Treat Her. It is £89.99 and will fit any size of wrist as it is elasticated and made of silver. You can have both sides of the heart personalised, so makes a great present for any mum or grandparent, without being twee.

Handcrafted Christmas Stocking

I am a big advocate of hand crafted British made products and when Kelly decided to open Petit Fromage, I knew her products would be exceptional. She is currently producing the most wonderful handmade Christmas products including bunting, table runners and the most beautiful, stylish and unique Christmas Stockings from £20.00

The Tweetie Tag Necklace

Oh how I adore this unique and made to order necklace from Victoria Wallop, which you can buy though We Shop. Victoria’s jewelry is handcrafted and totally unique to you. It can be customised to include a hashtag and perfect for any social media addicts. A must have #justsaying

Interflora Hamper

Often when you buy a hamper you are left in June with some part of it that just isnt what you want to eat. Well this isn’t the case with the Silent Night Hamper from Interflora which is £80. How do I know, well we were sent it to review and were going to pass it on to our inlaws, but the boys found it first and have already started to make their way though the treats. I love the fact that it comes in a traditional wicker basket that I can recycle. The perfect pre Christmas gift.

Bunny and Toad Stool Night Light

I love a bit of kitsch and I adore Dotcomgiftshop and when I saw the Toad Stool nightlight (£3.95) and Bunny Nightlight (£4.95) then I just had to have them. So I treated myself to them to brighten up my desk and they really do. Both the boys love them and now want there own!

Orla Keirly Bag from Zalando

I am a big OK fan and was asked to try Zalando and what can I say apart from they are the perfect match. The bag is divine and the service from Zalando is second to none. Not only do they have free delivery, they also have free returns too, which I tried out. Their customer service team were helpful, courteous and timely, which is what you need when you are buying online. I love the amount of choice that you have with Zalando and I even purchased my fab yellow converse from them.

Yankee Candles

Oh what can I say about Yankee Candles. They smell divine, last for hours and are just wonderful. I have been delighted with the ones that I was sent and have purchased them in the past as gifts. You really can not go wrong with a Yankee Candle as there is a scent for everyone.

Neals Yard

I am really funny about what I put on my skin and when my good friend Louise from Panacea Health and Beauty suggested I give Neals Yard a try, I know that she would know what she is talking about and I have been loving this brand ever since. So what can I say other than I am a convert to Neals Yard.

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The Mothers Union wants to ban letters to Father Christmas

Tips for making it cheaper:

Think of things are preloved rather than second hand
Do not give gifts in boxes and then children have no idea if they are new or not
Talk about giving to children less lucky as themselves and sort though toys before Christmas
Make gifts, rather than buying them
Set realistic expectations
Father Christmas is always listening, just because you do not get all on your list doesn’t mean he hasn’t seen it, it just means he said no to some of them!

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Christmas 2011

Christmas, a a special time for family and friends and this year one big part of our lives was missing. My mum died on Christmas Eve last year and was discovered on Christmas Day by my brother. This year was never going to be the easiest, however, we raised a glass to our missing loved ones and made the best of the day. Christmas Lunch was at The in laws and we came home and watched the Gruffalo’s Child, Dr Who (which had me sobbing) and Strictly Come Dancing.

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This week so far in Instagram

I have been far too tired on a evening after a full day with the boys to do a full post, but I thought I would give you a glimpse in to this week so far in Instagram.

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Felt Mistletoe with button berries

Who doesn’t love a good smooch under the mistletoe? What with having to stay in for deliveries, being unwell and lots of school things to attend, I haven’t been able to get out to buy any, so I searched the internet for a tutorial to make one with the small amount of green felt I had in my stash and came across the fantastic Stay at Home Artist blog and her 2010 tutorial for mistletoe. I didn’t have any pearl establishments so used an assortment of buttons and I love the finished ornament. If I had more felt and buttons I would have made another.

But the best thing is I have an excuse to have loads of smooches with my boys.

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Dishwasher safe Reindeer thumbprint mugs

We have made thumbprint cups before and they have always gone down a storm, so when I sore this fantastic Reindeer Thumbprint Ornament Tutorial, I knew that we had to do cups fort the boys teachers and teaching assistants.

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The week in Instagram

Week in Instagrams

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The one where I moan about the Nativity

Since when did you have to turn up 30 mins early to the nativity to endure that you get a seat? We have done two nativities this week, one for each of the boys and yes that was we. I made MadDad come with me as last year Mum did and I couldn’t face the thought of going on my own this year.

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A Little Legacy – Christmas

My mum never did anything by half and Christmas was one of those things that was just magical in my home growing up. When I was younger the decorations and tree would always go up on 19th December, the day prior to my birthday and there would be crape streamers strung across the ceilings and paper bells and balls hanging from them. It was a real family affair.
Christmas decorating took a back seat after my Dad died, that is until the Grandchildren came along and then again, my mums house was a festive wonder filled with tacky decorations along side the more traditional. She might have complained about decorating, but once she made a start she wasn’t content until the Lounge, Dinning Room and Hall were all festive.

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Stockings, not on your life, I had a pillow case

rowing up, I never had a stocking, oh no I had a pillowcase that we could hang downstairs for Father Christmas to leave our gifts in. Yes all our gifts pretty much fitted in to a pillowcase, except for the large ones, like my Sindy house (which was pre loved and already assembled and covered in a bed sheet. This was something that carried on for me until Maxi was born when I made a Christmas Stocking for him and the following year when I made one for Mini too

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Why we will not be participating in Operation Christmas Child

Every year at around this time, I receive a letter from the school asking for the boys to fill up a show box and give a donation of £2.50 in order to participate in operation Christmas Child.  We do not take part for a number of reasons: Samaritan’s Purse who run the show box scheme are essentially christian missionary’s and I feel uncomfortable. more »

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The Last Christmas

Today my wonderful sister in law Deb and I took down all the Christmas Decorations at mums house.  It will be the last Christmas that they adorn her tree or the walls of the family home.    No more will the lights twinkle in the window to welcome me as I pull up outside, or the more »

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How did we do with our 2010 resolutions?

I know many people would be saying blooming good riddance to 2010 and hello 2011, but in some ways that seems to be doing the year a major disservice, especially as it has been a quarter of Mini’s life to date.  So I am going to just focus on the fact the lows are what more »

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And the beat goes on

I would love to think that my mothers life was so precious that time stood still or even blurred in to the slow motion that you get in films, where every second lasted more than a minute.  I would like to say that we are mourning her in the old fashioned way, but with two more »

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Baked gifts given with love

  Each year we make Mini Christmas cakes for loved ones and special friends.  I do try and make them all edible and as the boys are getting older, I have two special helpers (which can leave finger marks in the icing like above).   I like to think that these cakes are baked and more »

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Christmas traditions – Christmas Eve

I blogged last year about our Christmas traditions, about creating memories and making our own traditions as a family.  Including a little of mine and MadDads best Christmas’s and sprinkling some new things, some things that are unique to us and to our life.  I want these tradition to cement the boys memories of their more »

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Christmas Decoration Tour 2010

I adore Christmas and all that is brings, partly maybe due to being a Christmas baby (it is my birthday on 20 December).  So I love decorations and one of the great things about getting older is that I am no longer hung up on everything needing to be matching and co-ordinating.  In fact I more »

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Why the boys nativities mean so much to me

Even though last week was snowed off for the school, the children and the teachers have worked really hard to ensure that the nativities took place this week. Maxi’s was first on Thursday and it was a Snowman at Sunset and yes, I cried.  Maxi doesn’t do dressing up, so as a narrator he only more »

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Nativity Scenes

  I am a great lover of nativity scenes and grew up with the lower image in my mums house.  When Maxi was born she gifted me it.  I love it, so do the boys, but as it is china they can not play with it and make up their own story, so we made more »

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A Pause in Advent – Peace

We had a pretty peaceful start to this week, as we had so much snow that the school was closed all week and MadDad struggled to get in to work.   We tried to make the most of each others company and use the time wisely. We really all enjoyed putting up our Christmas tree and more »

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Advent Crown

A large part of simplifying Christmas for me is making it all about homemade. Homemade decorations and homemade gifts I am a great believer in that the simpler things are, the more effective they are.

One of the main ways we start the festive season is by making our advent crown or wreath. This is one of the many things I remember doing as a child, however, I remember the Blue Peter version of wire coat hangers, tinsel and open flames!!

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Christmas with John Lewis

The institution that is John Lewis invited me to their Autumn/Winter and Christmas launch this week and I had a great big glimpse into what they think might be the next big thing and guess what I love it! From a toy perspective, I was really pleased to see that there was a focus on more »

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Toilet humour and the best present of the holidays according to the minimads

My Brother bought MiniMad  “Pooh is that you Bertie?” It has been the biggest hit of the holiday, we seem to be reading it constantly and the boys love the toilet humor, in fact we have been parping, boffing and tooting ever since. Who would have thought a book about farts could have been so more »

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A Wonderful White Christmas

I do hope that everyone is having a great Christmastime.  We have been having a fantastic time here in TheMadHouse. Christmas Eve was spent wrapping, wrapping and more wrapping, as all the presents were hidden in the loft until last minute to make sure that we dont spoil it for the children. We also made more »

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Christmas Eve Elves

We have a tradition here in the mad house which has evolved from when I was small.  I always got a new pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve to go to bed in. I dont know when I stopped thinking they were from the elves and know they were from my parents, but we have more »

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A Personal Panto

My Sister in Law and Brother usually substidise a trip for the children of members of the club to a local Pantomime each year, but his has been getting more and more expensive, so for the first time this year, a local company, The Beverly Artistes came and put on a panto for the children more »

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Christmas Cakes are done and dusted

I have made and decorated 4 large Christmas cakes this year with the help of my wonderful family (recipe can be found here) This one is for my in laws, My Father in law loves fruit cake and prefers square cakes!! I am a fan of retro and old fashions cake toppers of my youth, more »

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Reindeer Food, Hearts and Friends

I am a lucky lady you know.  I have made some wonderful friends over the internet.  I am blessed to have them and wanted to say thank you for all their support during this year. So, we make reindeer food as part of our annual christmas traditions, therefore, I made a little extra and have more »

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A Pause in Advent – Joy

joy / joi/ • n. a feeling of great pleasure and happiness: tears of joy the joy of being alive. ∎  a thing that causes joy: the joys of Manhattan. • v. [intr.] poetic/lit. rejoice: I felt shame that I had ever joyed in his discomfiture or pain.  2009 has brought me lots of joy, more »

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Family Treasures Old and New

I have been reminded this weekend of why I make thing with the boys and for the boys. We have been decorating gingerbread house’s at my mums with my niece and we put up the snowmen decorations I made when I was 8 so they are 28 years old and the minimads loved them. I more »

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Bloggy Love

I decided to take part in the Christmas Ornament swap this year.  I already had the materials to make my ornament, so it would only be the postage costs.       My Ornaments received from my partner at ooodlesofnoodles.blogspot.com are fabtastic and look great on the tree,  I love them. I also received a more »

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No Cards, Just Cookies

I know that I am not alone in this as The Dotterel at Bringing Up Charlie blogged about it too.  I HATE CHRISTMAS CARDS. Yep, I shouted.  It possibly stems from the fact I am a Christmas baby and I would rather have my measly few birthday cards up instead of Christmas cards. This issue more »

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Childrens Craft Showcase – Fabric Painting on Bags for Gandmas

We have been busy cooking, baking, crafting, drawing, painting and generally having fun. over the last few days.   One of the tasks this week for the mini mads was to make a Christmas present for Nana and Grandma Materials Stamps (poundland have some in) Fabric paint (I got mine when MaxiMad was born over more »

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A Pause in Advent

Well my pause for Advent this week has to be on the whole Nativity play in primary schools. MaxiMad is in Reception and his play Woops a Daisy Angel tool place on Wednesday and you can read all about it here.MiniMad is in Preschool (nursery), he is in the afternoon group, which are the youngest more »

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Kirtie’s HandMade Christmas – Rant Alert

Now I love Kirstie with the rest of the country, but I feel a little reality check is required here. I was really looking forward to this and have waited until viewing all three episodes before letting rip.  I was hopiong to be able to watch it and get useful, practical, inexpensive, handmade ideas for more »

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Jelly Baby Jesus Cakes

Ingredients Shredded wheat Golden Syrup Milk Chocolate Jelly Babys Royal Icing Cake Cases Break up the chocolate in a bowl and microwave till melted, whilst scrunching up the shredded wheat. Add about a tablespoon of golden syrup to the melted chocolate (it keeps it melted longer, which is easier for the children) and then add more »

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Woops a Daisy Angel

MaxiMad’s Nativity play was held yesterday afternoon and MadDad made a mad dash down the A1M in order to get back for it. Now MaxiMads year (reception or FS2) is a very big year with excess of 70 children in it and 3 classes, so I can not imagine what work has gone in to more »

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Why my Christmas’s will always be stuck in the 70’s

When I was growing up Christmas was a magical time.  It usually started after my Birthday on December 20th when we would put up the tree and the decorations.  Now this was no mean feet as my parents lived in a Edwardian house with very high ceilings and we would string paper chains from each more »

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Decorating on a Budget

I’m just a boy who helps around The workshop and I can be found Sawing for Joseph or shaping wood Helping a master who’s kind and good And now I’m here to wave goodbye To watch them go and know that I Am trusted to finish the table and stools And take proper care of more »

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Pine cone door decoration

Mary I’ve packed the oil And I’ve packed the grain, The water is ready Now listen again – Here are the blankets and covers And your mattress there, So please, my sweet friend, Keep warm and take care Today I have a very easy Pine Cone decoration, which I totally pinched from Sweet Paul. It more »

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A Pause in Advent – Priorities

“The Messiah shall come to Bethlehem – That prophecy soon will come true For Joseph is going to take me there And I know that my baby is due”. Today we will light the second candle on our advent wreath and discuss the shepherds and their sheep with the children.  I will be making cotton more »

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Christmas Decorations in TheMadHouse

Who am I? I’m Caesar Augustus! I live far away in Rome And I want to count all my subjects So, Mary and Joseph, GO HOME! Please let me take you on a tour of TheMadHouse dressed for Christmas…… First my wreath as you come to the front door Then the advent stockings hung over more »

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Egg Box Jingle Bells and Advent Poem

“Mary, I too saw an angel, And now we can marry with joy, I’ll care for you both, just as he said, And together we’ll bring up God’s boy”. The boys task for last night was anther craft, which I have seen out on the blog circuit, but can not for the life of me more »

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Day 3 and Pipe Cleaner Crystal Decorations

We have seen Borax decoration all over the internet and wanted to try them, but with Borax banned in the UK, we had to use a borax substitute to make our pipecleaner Christmas decorations.  These are super easy to make and the kids can manipulate the pipe cleaners all by themselves. “Joseph, an angel has told more »

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Second day of Advent and Letters to Father Christmas

An angel came to Nazareth A long time ago With a message from God in Heaven above To Mary on earth below “God sent me here to tell you” Said the glorious one “That you will bear a boy child And that child will be his son” The first task on the advent calender was more »

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Spiritual Sunday

Advent for a Reluctant Worshiper Yep that is me, I dont really fit in to a box when it comes to religion, I was raised C of E, in a church school.  I went to Sunday school, my younger brother was a choir boy, who became a Mormon.  I married an Atheist (in a church) more »

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Advent Crown or Wreath

  OK to start our traditions at Advent we are going to make a child friendly advent wreath or crown.  This is one of the many things I remember doing as a child, however, I remember the Blue Peter version of wire coat hangers, tinsel and open flames!! What I have tried to do here more »

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Rules for a Perfect Family Christmas

John Lewis is asking parent bloggers to share their ‘Rules for a Perfect Family Christmas’, so not to feel left out, I though I would add my rules too. Children Christmas is a time for children.  So we make it as magical as we can for them. We dress them up to take lots of more »

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Crafting with Children – Make your own wrapping paper

This is another really simple, but fun childrens craft, which will save you some pennies over the Christmas period and also over the year to come. Materials Paper – we have a roll of white paper from Ikea £2.99 Washable paints Paper plates Washing up bowl filled with soapy water Towel Now I am not more »

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Spiritual Sunday

Today is traditionally also know as “Stir it up” Sunday Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; That they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. So as you stir three times each (east to west more »

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Holiday Traditions

I have been thinking a lot about our holiday traditions lately and I have signed up for Sew Liberated Holiday Traditions Exchange 2009 .  Why are traditions important, well for me they cement and make memories.  The more frequently we do them the more memories the boys should associate with them.  As the boys are more »

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Easy Christmas Cards for Children

I think that Christmas cards that the children have made are a lovely thing to give, but often they can be messy, difficult, time consuming and complicated to make.  Not these easy stenciled christmas cards that are kid made. Firstly you need: Card Masking tape Green Paint Sponges Glue Sequins or stars Glitter You start by more »

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Secret Christmas Ornament Swap

I am ever so excited Snaffles Mummy is hosting a Secret Christmas Ornament Swap.  I have already signed up and think that it is a wonderful idea.  Yep I love Christmas and building up traditions too. So here are the basics: 1. Go to Snafflesmummys blog and grab the button and put it on your blog. more »

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Upcoming Craft Projects

Right I have had my thinking cap on and will be doing most of my up and coming Crafting with Children projects on advent and Christmas and now as this is a busy time of year for every one, I thought it wise to give you all a heads up on some of the things we more »

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Handpainted Mugs and other porcelain.

Another Thrifty Christmas Post inspired by Violet posy and by the Cowgirl in Wellies. We made these for MaxiMads teachers in July to say thank you for looking after him at Preschool. They were really simple to make, I purchased some porcelain paint from Baker Ross ages ago and it last and lasts.  we did more »

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Tea Cup Candles

Well I have been busy preparing for Christmas, we like to give homemade and  handcrafted presents and this year at TheMadHouse we are a little strapped for cash due to illness and other issues, so I am trying to make it a Thrifty Christmas. I have been collecting pretty tea cups, saucers and tea plates more »

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A homemade Girls Present – Bag and Purse with Beads

MaxiMad was off to a birthday party on Saturday and we only got the invite on Tuesday.  With me being in hospital I have not had the chance to go out and find anything suitable and I only have presents suitable for boys in our stash at the moment. So I had a chat with Maxi Mad more »

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Christmas Cake and Christmas Puddings

I always start soaking the fruit for Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings at Half Term, so I have weighted, measured, chopped, washed, dried and then covered in alcohol all the fruit this morning with the minimads.  We tend to use what we have or rather what alcohol my mum has open (so it was a more »

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Making a start on the Christmas Presents

Look, my new to me sewing machine and my first project on it.  A new swimming bag for MaxiMad.  He picked out the fabric when we were in York a few weeks back from the Cath Kidston store (he has taste that young man)! Thing is once I had done one and mini mad saw more »

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Pear Butter

We were given a bag full of pears from my wonderful sister in law, off the tree in their garden at the social club.  Now the mini’s love pears and ate lots, but I wanted to do something with the rest of them to remind us of Autumn all through the dark and cold winter more »

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Thrifty Christmas over at Violet Posie

I don’t know about you, but we are pretty strapped for cash at the moment and with Christmas on its way, I am looking at ways of making it less expensive and more thoughtful, less consumer driven and more cared for and considered. So when I saw that Violet Posie was hosting a Thrifty Christmas’ more »

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