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 time I get stuff like this is Christmas and Birthdays or if some kind PR sends me something! So this is my list of things that I have popped on my Christmas List.  Some have been previous PR samples, others products that I am getting to the end off! top beauty buys Healagel Eye.   I have been looking for a new eye cream since having my eyes lasered nearly a year ago.  Since giving up my glasses the area under my eyes has been dry and sore.  I have tried alsorts of products and even been to see my GP, who said it was due to my skin not used to being exposed and that it needed to acclimatise.  I have been using Healgel Eye for the last 2 months and my eyes are no longer dry and sore and I feel much better about them.  Now at £32 I know it isn't cheep, but I rarely spend any money on myself and I am a firm believer in that if you find something that works then keep on with it.  Plus it has a pump dispenser so provides you with measured amounts and I reckon I will get around 4 months useage out of it. Nourish Argan Skin Rescue Treatment  The latest cult brand at that is getting rave reviews from customers is Nourish, which was created from the guys that brought you Neal’s Yard. Certified Organic by the Soil Association, the Nourish skin care range was developed in 2012 to offer cutting edge, beautiful, high quality natural and organic skin care products. I have been using the Nourish Argan Skin Rescue Treatment, which is £18.95.  It is perfect for my skin at this time of year, which really hates central heating. Nourish Argan Skin Renew Treatment I have also switched from my normal moisturizer to Nourish Argan Skin Renew Treatment and my skin is reaping the benefits.  Again central heating makes it tight, sore and dry and this puts the life back in to it without being to heavy and greasy.   It is £21.50. Lily Lolo Honey Glow Shimmer Stripes  I used to wear make up everyday when I worked, but since being a mum I no longer hide behind my "face" plus I wanted the boys to understand that women do not need make up to look good.  That said I still love makeup and wear it when I am going out of on days when I look particularly dreadful!  I was recently introduced to mineral makeup and was send the Lily Lolo Honey Glow Shimmer Stripes compact.  It is £19.99 and I have used it a lot.  I opted for the honey glow as I am a real pale skinned person, but we are going on holiday.  This gives me a gentle, subtle hint of a glow and makes me look like a better version of myself. Liz Earle Hair Oil  Botanical Shine Nourishing Hair Oil for all hair types is the only product I use on my hair other than shampoo and conditioner and they have to be paraben and SLS free.  At £15 for 150ml it  is on the expensive side, but I have had my last bottle since March, so when you bring it down to a cost per use it is amazing value.  People have raved about Moroccan Oil and I have used both but much prefer the Liz Earl Hair Oil.  Even Maxi uses it to make sure his curls to not tangle. I was devastated when I left my bottle at Thorpe Park earlier in the year and was straight on to the internet to buy another bottle. Aromatherapy Associates Bath Oil I adore a long warm bath and there is something decidedly indulgent with Aromatherapy Associates Bath Oils.   When my mind is racing and my insomnia raging then a bath with their deep relax oil goes a long way to helping me get on top of things and trust me that is priceless.  My oil lasts me all year as I treat it like liquid gold.  The boys are not allowed anywhere near it.  This has been on my Christmas list for the last 18 years and I really look forward to unwrapping a bottle. L'occitane Hand Cream I used to have a love hate relationship with hand cream.  I hate dry hands, but I hate greasy hands even more.  Then a colleague introduced me to L'Occitane Hand Cream and it transformed my life.  It is really thick and you only need a tiny bit.  My colleague was a glamorous more mature lady and I used to really look up to her.  She was always perfectly groomed and very chic.  She also taught me her way of putting on handcream.  You place a very small (pea sized or smaller) amount of cream on to the back of your hand and then rub both the backs of your hands together, before turning them over and rubbing in the remainder of the cream which means your palms do not get too greasy .  This is the hand cream I always buy my MIL. What is on your list for this Christmas?
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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. reindeer food

Reindeer Food

  • Oatmeal I use the value oats
  • Bottles of Christmas colored sugars
  • Christmas sprinkles
  • Glitter or coloured sugar if you are concerned about animals eating it
Method: It couldn't be much simpler, you just pour everything together in a big bowl and stir to ensure it is all mixed together.
Spoon the reindeer food in to small plastic bags and then seal with one of the free tags listed below:

Free Reindeer food Tag Roundup

reindeer food8
Love these free tags from Amanda's Parties to go
Todays Creative Blog has these adorable tags.
vintage rudolph fancy labels - lisa
Or how about these vintage fancy labels form The Tom Kat Studio.
WC Designs have a very stylish printable here.
Activity village has free printables too and
magic rein
Organized Christmas has two different free labels to choose from.
idea room
The ones I use from Amy at The Idea Room
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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 we are prepped for Christmas Day and can be found in the kitchen as a family for part of the day.  I love the thought of making it magical and wanted to share with you what we do and how we do it! Christmas Eve Sacks Christmas Eve gift bags New Pyjamas (so they look their best on Christmas Morning in pictures) I have even ordered The Pajama Elves book to read over the advent period. A new family Movie  A family Game Reindeer food Snowman Soup A new book for bedtime We all snuggle up and make cranberry and popcorn garlands for the tree at the front of the house as we watch the new movie.  We go and lay a wreath on my Mum's grave and as the sun starts to set then we wrap up warm and go for a walk round the local neighbourhood and look at everyones christmas lights before returning home for our snowman soup. The last thing the boys do before putting out a pie and drink for Father Christmas is they sprinkle their Reindeer Food before going to bed with their new book.
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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. fabric Christmas card Mini loved making these cards and as you can see as often is the case with children more is more and he wanted to use our christmas stamps and paper punches too! Materials:
  1. A selection of fabric and felt
  2. Glue
  3. Pinking scissors
  4. Card stock
  5. Sequins
Method: It really couldn't be much simpler.  Mini cut the fabric in to strips and the positioned them to make a christmas tree shape.  He then cut out a pot shape from brown felt.  Once he was happy with his tree and pot he stuck in to the card and then he embellished it in his unique fashion!
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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 it is for many mum's.  We are often the ones that keep the family ticking over whilst ensuring that everything is organised, made, purchased, wrapped and plans made. But I had an epiphany the year my mum died and realised that for me life is about the people I spent it with all year round and especially at Christmas and not what gift we give them on one day of the year. Christmas also got much less stressful when we stopped buying for adults (apart from the MIL and FIL and that present is from the boys).  We do not buy for my brother and his wife or my Brother in Law and his wife.  Instead we concentrate on making  and buying a gift for our nieces.  This really reduces the panic. Another thing that is really important to me is making sure the boys vision of Christmas is much more than the gifts they receive on Christmas Day.  I do this in various ways.  Firstly with their Christmas Lists, where they are only allowed to put four items on their list.  This means they have to be mindful about their needs and wants.  I also insist that they give three toys ech to charity and not toys that are heavily played with either!  My spending time with the boys each day over advent doing something off our activity advent calender also ensures that they think a little more about Christmastime and Advent. Christmas list rules
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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. christmas decs 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:
  1. Air drying clay
  2. Cookie cutters
  3. Plastic roller (i used the boys old playdough one!
  4. Silicon cooking mat
  5. straw
  6. Clear sealant or modge podge
  7. decorations (we used buttons and felt)
  8. Nailfile
  9. ribbon
  10. 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.
air drying clay ornements Collage 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

reindeer cookies   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. Ingredients - for the decorating
  • Chocolate (I use milk)
  • Mini smarties
  • Icing - I use ready made writing icing!
  1. Melt the chocolate (I do this in a heatproof bowl over a pan with some water in, making sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl)  You can also do it in the microwave.
  2. Transfer to a piping bag  and with a non decorative tip pipe the face and antlers.
  3. Before the chocolate sets add a red candy cover chocolate for the note and white ones for the eyes and allow to set for 10 minutes.
  4. Then ice on the pupils and the ears.
The MiniMads love doing this and we give them to the teachers each year as well as leaving them out for Father Christmas (Oh and obviously we eat quite a few too!  
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A new found love for cleaning products

I hate cleaning, but in order to keep my mind in a good place I need to have a semi clean and tidy house.  It helps me feel on top of things, but I also am well aware that there are various studies about the effects of cleaners, chemicals and even air freshener about and being susceptible to certain cancers I try to avoid all these things. I have been making my own cleaners for a while, but sometimes I need something a little stronger or would prefer something that doesn't smell of vinegar or lemon! That is where Method come in.  They sent me a selection of their products and I have to say I am converted! mathod Method products are clean, green and safe to use. They do not contain ammonia, bleach, phosphate, phthalates  and their bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic. I have been testing their washing up liquid (which smells divine), their laundry liquid, which is really concentrated and manages to get the dirt out of the MiniMads clothes on a 40 degree wash most of the time and better than that is small but goes a long way, oh and you can get refill pouches! You get 25 washes for £5.99 or 85 washes for £14, which is great value. I have also been using the Multi-surface cleaner in the kitchen and it is doing a great job and I have been so impressed with the wood cleaner that I have bought more when I ran out (just like I did with the laundry liquid). SO) I have joined the ranks of People against Dirty and am a Method Convert.  Now to just get more shops locally to shock them!
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24 homemade advent calenders

homemade advent calenders
  1. Mini stocking advent calender - The Mad House
  2. No numbers advent calender - Two of everything
  3. Salt dough advent calender - The fairy and the frog
  4. Baby sock advent calender - The crazy kitchen
  5. Advent candy wreath - J Daniels 4's mom
  6. Kids art advent calender - Red Ted Art
  7. Fabric advent calender - A place of my own
  8. Simple advent calender - The boy and me
  9. Artful advent calender - The artful parent
  10. Felt cracker advent calender - Mummy, Mummy, Mum
  11. Brown paper bag advent calender - One perfect day
  12. Wipe lid advent calender - No time for flashcards
  13. Easy homemade advent calender - Jennifer's little world
  14. Recycled Christmas card advent calender - Octavia and Vicky
  15. Felt advent calender - The Imagination Tree
  16. Paper advent calender - Tinkerlab
  17. Easy paper advent calender - Be a fun mum
  18. Envelope advent calender - Domestique Godesque
  19. Paper bag advent calender - Mama Papa Bubba
  20. Advent Jar - Mess for Less
  21. Fabric Bag Advent calender - Pickelbums
  22. Christmas Tree advent calender - The artful parent
  23. Matchbox advent calender - Mud Hut Mama
  24. Cup advent calender - Red Ted Art
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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. decorating snowflakes I kept the table really simple and provided the boys with the following:
  1. polystyrene snowflakes (£2.50 for 10)
  2. snowflake stickers (£2.99 for a sheet of 280)
  3. iridescent white glitter (£2.99)
  4. gold and silver bows (£2.99 for a pack of 60)
  5. Gold and silver paint
  6. Glue
  7. Metallic pens
snoflake collage The boys loved this activity.  They had great fun over two days decorating both sides of the snowflakes and we are going to attach them to gifts over the christmas period and hang any spare on our christmas tree.
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