Tag Archives: Christmas

The Christmas Unicorn

This morning, after Toddler Group, we went to the charity shop to look for some more Christmas books, and we found this rather lovely one.  When we sat down to read it this evening, we also read a few more of our Christmas poems, and Tiddler insisted on having Little Robin’s Christmas again as well.  I wonder if we will have to read all the books every day – if so we will need to start earlier.  I don’t think we’ll manage to read all 24 on Christmas Eve though!

the christmas unicorn

The Christmas Unicorn, by Anna Currey

It’s nearly Christmas, and Milly and her mum are staying at Grandpa’s house.  She is missing her friends, and most of all her Dad who can’t be there just yet.  Milly can’t sleep, and suddenly she hears a creak at the gate.  She looks out of her window and sees a unicorn.  Milly and the unicorn – whose name is Florian – become friends, and with a little bit of help from Florian, all Milly’s Christmas wishes come true.

The children all enjoyed this beautifully illustrated story about the magic of Christmas.

Little Robin’s Christmas

Today we continued to read our Christmas poems, and we also read a new story – Little Robin’s Christmas.

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Little Robin’s Christmas, Jan Fearnley, paperback, £6.99, Egmont

This is the story of a little robin, who has seven warm vests to wear for each day in the week leading up to Christmas.  Each day he gives away a vest to a friend who is cold.  On Christmas Eve he is alone in the snow with no vest to keep him warm.  Read the story to find out who comes to his rescue, and why robins have read vests to this day!

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It is a gentle, heartwarming story with very appealing illustrations, perfect for sharing at bedtime in the days leading up to Christmas.

We received a copy of this book to review.

Britmums Christmas Do

On Monday I had a day out in that London ON MY OWN!  I arrived at London Bridge a little after 9 o’clock, and walked over to Southwark Cathedral.  I enjoyed a pot of tea and a pastry in the peace and quiet of the Cathedral refectory, which was exactly what I needed after a sleepless night and a rush hour train journey.  After strolling through Borough market as it was setting up, I set off to look for the Britmums Christmas Event venue on Borough High Street.

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I arrived for the event twenty minutes early, but I wasn’t the only one.  I was pleased to see two familiar faces, Liska and Rachel – and Liska’s lovely little boy Aaron who proudly showed me his Disney Cars dressing up outfit as we were going up in the lift.  He was very sweet, and as far as I could see he spent the rest of the morning working his charm on everyone else too!

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After a little wait, it was time to get a cup of coffee and go through to the main conference room.  There was a magnificent display of Christmas treats, provided by Morrisons who were sponsoring the event.  As it was a roomful of bloggers, at first no-one touched the food, because everyone was taking photographs, but there was soon plenty of tasting going on too!

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Neil Nugent, executive chef and head of product development at Morrisons was there to give us his top tips for preparing Christmas dinner.

  • Get the turkey out of the fridge three hours before cooking to bring it up to room temperature.
  • Hold it by the legs and shake it – yes, really – to open it up, so the hot air can circulate while it’s cooking.
  • Put seasoned butter under the skin, starting from the neck end, to keep the turkey moist.
  • Don’t cover your turkey with foil – it creates steam, which will make it overcooked and dry.
  • Let it rest for a couple of hours after cooking, so that the juices will settle and it will be more tender.
  • Use Maris Piper potatoes for roasting, and don’t boil them first – just simmer them gently for ten minutes, so they don’t end up mushy.
  • You can prepare the vegetables two or three days in advance and keep them in the fridge.
  • If you want to have mashed potato with your Christmas dinner, you can make that in advance too.

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After that there was time to talk, while eating a delicious lunch and drinking wine also provided by Morrisons.  I had a great morning and met so many interesting people.  I enjoyed getting to know Swazi and Lynda, and discussing Home Education with them, among other things.  Another highlight was a very helpful chat about branding and SEO with the lovely Maggy.

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After the event, I spent a bit more time in London, including popping back to the cathedral and the market, before getting the train home.  The children were at my friend’s house, so I went round there and they were reasonably pleased to see me, though a little disappointed that I was not daddy with fish and chips.  When daddy arrived a little later, we ate supper with our friends and then it was time to leave.  The children were more impressed when we got back home and I showed them the Morrisons Christmas treats we’d been given as we left the event.  We have now eaten them and they were all delicious!

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Thank you Britmums and Morrisons for a wonderful morning – now it really feels like Christmas has started!

A White Christmas at Butlins

We’re spending Christmas with my family this year, and I’m looking forward to it.  My brother and his wife will be over from Australia, which makes it a special one, and some friends from way back when will be joining us with their toddler.  With such a lovely crowd, I’m sure it will be a good one, but I must admit that some years we feel tempted to get away from it all and go on holiday for Christmas instead.

I’ve just found out that Butlins stays open over Christmas and New Year, which I didn’t realise before, so I’ve been fantasy planning for future years!  I was pleasantly surprised that it’s cheaper than I thought it would be – Christmas themed breaks start from only £41 per person, for a 3 night break.

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Since the weather turned colder, our children have been asking me to check the forecast every day to see if it is going to snow, and of course they are dreaming of a white Christmas.  At Butlins this year, it’s guaranteed!  In each of the resorts, there will be a magical Snowstorm show that takes place in the Skyline Pavilion.

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There are Christmas themed short breaks at all three Butlins resorts, at Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness, from 13th December.  There are a lot of fun activities included in the price of the break.  As well as the Skyline Snowstorm, there’s  a Winter Wonderland – where every child will get a free gift from Father Christmas, an Ice Rink, Christmas themed arts and crafts, and a traditional family pantomime.  If you are staying over Christmas Day, you will be treated to a 5 course Christmas dinner, so you won’t have to worry about cooking or washing up!

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There will also be live entertainment from children’s TV characters like Mike the Knight or Angelina Ballerina, and there are so many things for kids to do around the resorts, the only problem might be fitting everything in!  The indoor sub-tropical Splash Waterworld is always popular with our children, and there are traditional fairground rides too.

If you are visiting over New Year, your break will include a New Year’s Eve party for the whole family, with a spectacular fireworks display, and live entertainment throughout your stay.

You can book online or call 0845 070 4730.  All breaks are priced per person and subject to availability.

I love the idea of a family holiday at Christmas, and if it fits in with the plans of our extended family, we would definitely consider it in future years.


We are Butlins Ambassadors for 2013 and 2014.  Although we won’t be there at Christmas this year, we are looking forward to visiting both Minehead and Bognor Regis in 2014.

Hobbycraft Christmas Decoration Kits

We have been sent two Christmas Decoration craft kits to review by Hobbycraft, and my original plan was to let the children try and help me.  On closer inspection, I decided it was probably a bit too difficult, or at least it would have taken them even longer than it took me.  So I decided to make them myself, and perhaps we will make some more later with our stash of felt.  (It is tempting to say that they were made by the children, but the slapdash sewing is all mine!)

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We chose the reindeer and the heart decoration kits, and it was interesting to compare the two.  The reindeer kit, which I did first, was harder, and in fact the children would have been able to do the hearts, so that is probably something we will try if we make our own.

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The kits are priced at £3.00 each and include pre-cut felt pieces, thread and toy stuffing.  The reindeer kit also has beads for eyes.  Both kits contain an instruction leaflet.

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I started by marking the snowflake patterns on both sides of the reindeer.  It wasn’t clear from the instructions which thread to use, as there was a small amount of embroidery thread and a larger amount of thin sewing thread.  I opted for the embroidery thread, which seemed the logical choice, but it turned out to be the wrong one as there was only enough for four snowflakes on one side.  I used the thin thread to complete the last snowflake and decided to keep the other side plain!

The instructions included small pictures of the stitches needed – back stitch, blanket stitch and running stitch.  However, I don’t think you would be able to work out how to do all the stitches from the pictures if you didn’t already know.  I had to think hard about how to do blanket stitch – I did eventually remember, though I did it pretty badly.  The instructions also refer to using French knots for decorations on the corner of the snowflakes, but I couldn’t remember how to do them so I missed them out.

Having joined the two pieces with blanket stitch, I filled the reindeer with the toy stuffing, added the antlers and sewed up the hole at the top.  Then I added the beads for the reindeer’s eyes, and felt pieces for the feet.  I have not yet added hanging loops, as they were supposed to be made with the embroidery thread which I used by mistake, so I will have to find some more thread and add them later.

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Next, I made the hearts and they were much easier, particularly because I decided not to embroider any words on them.  I didn’t really want “Mum” and “Dad” as suggested, and couldn’t think of anything else to do, so I left them plain.

The felt in this kit is thicker and fluffier, and there are pieces of ribbon to sew them together.  I prefer the look and feel of the thinner felt, but it was very quick and simple to sew the thick felt pieces together with ribbon so this kit would be more suitable for a child or someone who is not very confident about sewing.

It would be useful if there was a slightly larger amount of ribbon provided to allow room for error.  I nearly ran out of white ribbon so the hanging loop on the red heart is too small and I will have to replace it later.

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I think the kits represent good value for money at £3.00 each, although they could do with clearer instructions in parts, and a more generous amount of ribbon and embroidery thread.  They reindeer kit would be tricky for a beginner, and both kits would be too basic for someone more experienced.  However, they were just about right for someone like me with rather rusty sewing skills, and I did enjoy doing them.  I also worked out what to do, and what not to do, when I try to make my own decorations so it was useful from that point of view too.  They may not be perfect, but the children love them so I am happy with the results!

This post is sponsored by Hobbycraft.

Christmas and New Year

Owl’s round-up of the highlights of December and January so far

On the first day of December, we opened the first door of our Lego city advent calendar, and in the afternoon we went to our church fair.

On the fourth, we went to see Rabbit’s Dramabuds show.  Rabbit was very good as the witch, Horrid Hagrid.

I sang in my choir concert on the ninth of December, and Mummy, Daddy, Granny and Monkey came to watch me.

The next weekend, on the 15th, it was Mummy and Daddy’s choir concert and Granny and I went to watch.  The following day it was our Home Ed group nativity, talent show and party.  After the party we went to the Christingle service at our church.

On the 21st we went to the theatre in the afternoon to see the Elves and the Shoemaker, and in the evening Monkey and I performed in our violin concert.  The next morning, we went back to the theatre to see another show, called All I want for Christmas.

On the 23rd, we went to the Italian restaurant near our house for lunch with Mummy’s aunt, uncle and cousin.

On Christmas Eve we went to see Father Christmas at the Garden Centre.  On the way there, our car broke down, but we were very lucky because Granny and our friend came to take us all there in two cars.  Then Daddy managed to get a minibus from a car hire company just before they closed for Christmas.  In the evening we went to church for the nativity service.  Tiddler and I dressed up as shepherds, Monkey was a sheep and Rabbit was a king.

On Christmas day we woke up very excited.  We opened our stockings, had breakfast and then set off for Granny and Grandpa’s house.  When we got there we opened our presents and had smoked salmon sandwiches for lunch.  We played with our new toys and in the evening we had Christmas dinner.

A few days later, we went home for the family Christmas dinner at our other Granny’s church.  Then we went back to spend New Year at Granny and Grandpa’s.

On the third and fourth of January, Monkey, Rabbit and I went to the Dramabuds holiday club, ending with a winter wonderland show.

On the sixth we went to see a pantomime at Epsom Playhouse.  It was Snow White and we all really enjoyed it.

On the seventh, Monkey and I had our piano lesson and then went to play at a friend’s house.  We made a big Lego city scene out of his new and old Lego.

Now we are staying at Granny and Grandpa’s house again.  We have been on treasure hunts inside and out in the village, and we have played with Lego, games and cars.  We have been doing Maths and English websites and lots of reading.  We had to hire another minibus for this week because our car is still broken.