13 December 2017

Christmas Eve Box Ideas

Putting together a Christmas Eve box for my girls is one of my favourite festive traditions. Our box is delivered overnight on the 23rd December for the girls to wake up to on Christmas Eve by our elves which come to visit us on the countdown to Christmas. It's really lovely for them to have a little something on Christmas Eve as by this point excitement levels are at an all time high.

Creating a Christmas Eve box is really easy and filling it with goodies is lots of fun. Last year I invested in a personalised wooden crate to put all our bits and bobs in, but you can easily cover a cardboard box with some Christmas wrapping paper or use something like a wicker basket.

Our Christmas Eve box is filled with goodies from M&S this year

I've filled our box this year with some help from the lovely team at Marks and Spencer and wanted to share everything that's in it in case you're in need of some inspiration, or would like to create one yourself.

Our Christmas Eve box has a book, soft toys, treats, pjs and tree decorations in

The wonderful thing about a Christmas Eve box is that you can put whatever you like in it, a festive twist is lovely but you can be as creative as you want. Here are my five favourite things to include:

1. Sweet Treats

If there is ever a time for treats its Christmas Eve and M&S have loads of them! I've chosen hot chocolate flakes to melt into creamy hot chocolate, with marshmallows, mini yule log bites and some really cute little tubs of chocolate buttons for extra decadence!

Hot chocolate, marshmallows, yule logs and chocolate buttons to enjoy snuggled up with a book or Christmas film

2. Tree decorations

This year I've popped in a decoration each for the girls to add to the tree on Christmas Eve. I adore these felt carol singing mice and they look adorable peeking out of the box too.

Cute little tree decorations make a great addition to a Christmas Eve Box

3. A Cuddly Toy

I think it's lovely for the girls to go to bed on Christmas eve with a new cuddly toy.  In the past we have had penguins and reindeer but this year I've included these beautiful Angel Dolls which remind me of the fairy on the top of our tree and just add a bit of magic. I know the girls will absolutely love them and far beyond Christmas too.

3 little angels for my little angels

4. Pyjamas 

I always include some matching Christmas Pjs in our Christmas Eve box because I just think they are so fun to put on at bedtime before laying out Father Christmas's mince pie and putting up our stockings. I always take lots of photos on Christmas morning as I love looking back on ones from my own childhood and Christmas Pjs make them extra special. Finding matching pjs is getting harder as the girls get older but Marks and Spencer have them from 9 months - 8 years. I really like these Fairground Pyjamas because although they are festive the girls will be able to wear them for the rest of the winter.

Christmas Pjs for our Christmas Eve Box

5. A Christmas Book

We have a growing collection of Christmas books which we keep in the loft and bring down in December to read at bedtime and a Christmas Eve box is the perfect opportunity to add another to the library. Snuggling up with hot chocolate in our Christmas Pjs and reading a Christmas story is just so very lovely. We love Paddington and were delighted when M&S teamed up with him for Christmas this year and absolutely had to have Paddington and The Christmas Visitor to read this year.

Paddington and the Christmas visitor

There are so many other things you could include such as a Christmas Movie and some popcorn, slippers, festive colouring books and pens, stickers, a Christmas Jumper, games, puzzles or crafty activities  - the possibilities are endless!

Our Christmas Eve Box

I hope that's given you some inspiration. If you've got any suggestions that I haven't mentioned please do pop them in the comments below as I'm always on the look out for new ideas.

Me x

*This is a collaborative post. 
We were kindly sent the items above by Marks and Spencer to include in our box this year. 
They are all things I chose and genuinely love. 
All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

8 December 2017

10 Tips For Self Care

Having had several conversations with other mums lately I have realised that most of us are really terrible at looking after ourselves. It's something that for some reason we feel guilty about, feel we don't have time for, or just don't make a priority.

10 tips for self care

When life gets busy it can all feel a bit overwhelming and exhausting as there is just so much to do. It's usually only when I burn out that I allow myself to have a break, so I'm trying really hard to be better at exercising self care before I reach this point. I've realised it's really important, not just for me, but for my family too - you can't pour from an empty cup.

I'd just like to say that I'm no expert and still very much putting this into practice myself, but here are ten things that have worked for me in making things feel a little more manageable:

1. Ask for help, you cannot do it all. People always say the 'jobs can wait' but realistically most of them can't and I always feel so much better when I'm on top of things. Ask you partner/family members/friends to have the children for a few hours while you catch up on jobs. Or if you are able to ignore the jobs then use the time to have a rest and recharge.

2. Use a weekly planner. I use mine to write down all the things that are floating around my head and put them somewhere where they can be ticked off and also read by others so that the responsibility is not all mine. I also allocate two achievable jobs a day and then by the end of the week I feel like I've got somewhere. These might be vacuum downstairs and change the beds for example.

3. Get a cleaner. This is the best investment I have ever made, once a fortnight my house is cleaned top to bottom and for a few days I feel on top of it. It also gives me one of the most valuable gifts of some extra time, totally worth it and costs the same as a Friday night takeaway.

4. Do an online food shop. This is a game changer, a time saver and it feels so good when you open the door to a weeks worth of food and you haven't had to leave the house.

5. Have something once a week that is yours. For me it's yoga, 7pm on Wednesday night is my time, me, my mat and I. 

6.  Switch off. Turn your phone off, hop in the bath with a book or magazine and get an early night. 

7. Watch some rubbish TV and paint your nails, I always feel so much better when I've done my nails don't you? 

8. A friend kindly reminded me that baked beans are a perfectly acceptable tea for the children. Take the pressure off, they do not need gourmet food every single night - not that I am for one minute suggesting mine have but I do like them to have a healthy balanced diet.

9. Book a day off work when everyone else is a play school, school, work etc and enjoy the silence and having no agenda other than your own. 

10. See your friends or have a date night. Being you is the best kind of therapy and spending time with those who know you best and you can be yourself can work wonders.

Whatever you choose to do - look after you, because you matter.

Me x

4 December 2017

Inspiring little adventures with Lottie Dolls

The girls are at such a lovely age. At six, almost four and two their imaginations are really active and they love imaginative play - they have also started playing really beautifully together as a three. I like to give them toys that will spark their imaginations and inspire play, as well as being age appropriate. It is for these reasons that I absolutely love Lottie Dolls and so do the girls.

Pandora's Box Lottie, Birthday Girl Sophia (Lottie's little sister), Forest Friend Lottie, Muddy Puddles Lottie and Autumn Leaves Lottie
Pandora's Box Lottie, Birthday Girl Sophia (Lottie's little sister), Forest Friend Lottie,
 Muddy Puddles Lottie and Autumn Leaves Lottie

Suitable for age three and upwards Lottie Dolls are award winning, small 7.5 inch dolls, perfect for little hands and inspired by real children. They are dressed for an adventure and super relatable with the wonderful motto 'Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You! Just the sentiment I want my daughters to aspire to - with a desire to explore, adventure, learn and have fun.

Phoebe playing with her lottie dolls in the playhouse outside
Phoebe loves taking our Lottie Dolls outside to play with

I bought Ellie and Phoebe a Lottie Doll each last Christmas and they were a big hit. We have just added three more dolls to add to our collection along with the Lottie Dolls Tree House for them all to play in. The girls are now proud owners of Pandora's Box Lottie, Birthday Girl Sophia (Lottie's little sister), Forest Friend Lottie, Muddy Puddles Lottie and Autumn Leaves Lottie. There are lots more Lottie Dolls to choose from and i'm sure our collection with grow further Each doll is so different with so much attention to detail. They come beautifully packaged in gorgeous boxes with a little bit about each doll's personality on the box. They make wonderful gifts and are just so enticing, my girl's couldn't wait to get them out of their boxes.

Pandoras Box Lotttie and Forest Friend's Lottie
Ellie's favourite Lottie Dolls - Pandora's Box Lottie and Forest Friend Lottie

The thing I love about them most is that they represent children being children and everything that is special about childhood. Whether it's jumping in muddy puddles, building dens, caring for animals, having a party or exploring the forest searching for fairies. There are also so many dolls in the collection which serve as brilliant role models for young girls and represent the creativity and curiosity that they should have such as artists, fossil hunters and stargazers. 

Forest Friend Lottie outside in the garden
Forest Friend Lottie is perfect for searching for fairies with

Lottie dolls also place emphasis on outdoor play and activity, something that is so important to me as a parent and something my girls love. Many of the dolls we have come with coats, hats and boots ready to get out there and explore. The dolls quite often come along with us for a little adventure or out in the garden, they are the perfect companion and fit nicely in a coat pocket or one of their bags! 

Lottie Dolls in their treehouse in the garden
Lottie Dolls are perfect for outdoor and indoor play

The girl's have really enjoyed playing with the Tree House and using it as a base for their Lottie Dolls to play in. They love their own playhouse and spend so much time in it, so it's really lovely to see them emulate play with their Lottie dolls in the same way. It's a beautifully made wooden toy which comes complete with a swing, slide, door, rope ladder and secret hatch giving it so much play value. 

Putting the dolls to bed in the treehouse
Our own little Lottie loves putting the dolls to bed in their Tree House

It's big enough for the girls to play with together but doesn't take up too much space. It's also a great place to store our Lottie Dolls when they are not being played with. One of the walls cleverly drops down so the girls can put their dolls inside easily as well as using the door and hatch. It's on stilts making it the perfect height for play when they girls are sat around it. I am really impressed with it.

It has a handy hatch at the side of the treehouse
The hatch at the side of the Tree House provides ease of play

There are so many cute accessories to add to your collection and inspire an adventure such as outfits, pets and activities. My personal favourites are the super hero costume and Biscuit the Beagle and I think we might also invest in the stable set and a pony. I think it's brilliant that the accessories allow you to personalise your Lottie Dolls to your child and relate them to their current interests whether it's riding, ballet, brownies, gymnastics, art or sport. It makes them a doll that really grows with your child with endless play opportunities. At £18.99 for a doll and accessories starting from £4.50 I think they are excellent value too.

My three girls playing with their Lottie Dolls together
Plenty of room for everyone to play together

I adore that Lottie Dolls appeal to all three of my girls and just love seeing and hearing them play with them together and having fun. Sometimes the dolls are sisters, other times friends, either way they have so many little adventures together with my girls just as children should. 

Me x

* This is a collaborative post. 
We were kindly sent three Lottie Dolls and the Tree House for the girls to play with. 
All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

2 December 2017

Ellie is 6!

Today you are six Ellie! That feels really grown up... you have grown so much in the last year in so many ways. You are such a happy, kind and now confident little girl which is just wonderful to see. 

A letter to my daughter Ellie on her 6th birthday
Ellie Age Six!
You love school and are learning so much and asking us so many questions. My favourite the other day was ‘where does space end?’ It’s a good one and I couldn’t answer it! You can now read fluently and are picking up books from the bookshelf and reading them to yourself and your sisters. You carefully read all your birthday cards for the first time today and I could see the pleasure it gave you. 

You write beautifully, I am always finding little notes around the house, my favourites are of course the ‘I love you mummy’ ones which I will keep forever. You still love to draw and create things and always include so much detail and thought into everything. I have huge piles of artwork everywhere as a result! 

You love ballet and swimming and are working so hard at both. I see your determination and courage and how hard you try. Remember you can do and be anything you want to be, we are all right here behind you with word of encouragement and so much love. Family means so much to you and you love playing with your sisters and cousins and spending precious time with grandparents. You have also made and maintained some lovely friendships this year which I can see you really treasure. You love making memories with all these special people and your ability to recall them always makes me smile.

You love unicorns and tutus and hair bands and singing and dancing in the kitchen. You really love being read chapter books- we read one chapter each night at bedtime. We’ve just started on Roahl Dahl and I can see his words are igniting your imagination. Your favourite colour is still purple whenever I see it I think of you!

You have well and truly adopted our family motto of being kind and gentle and I see your kindness shine everyday. When you opened your birthday cards this morning and found some money in one of them you said you were going to buy something for you, Phoebe and Lottie. You shared your presents and included your sisters in your day so beautifully. You are a wonderful role model for them and they are learning so much from you. 

Keep being you Ellie Boo because you’re awesome.

All my love little lady

Mummy xxx

You can to read previous letters and see how Ellie has changed here:

Ellie is 5
Ellie is 4