|FUN|spiderman birthday party

Last week T celebrated his 3rd birthday, we hosted a little birthday party for him to celebrate, back in the summer, T chose Spiderman as his theme, he said he wanted a Spiderman 'room' this year!

(photo above courtesy of Party Pieces)
Party Pieces kindly provided us with the Ultimate Party Kit for 16 guests £21.99, in return for a review. This kit includes:
• 16 x Spiderman plates
• 16 x Spiderman cups
• 20 x Spiderman napkins
• 1 x Spiderman tablecover
• 1 x Spiderman bunting
• 8 x Spiderman party balloons
• 10 x blue party balloons
This is a great convenient way of purchasing tableware, and at really good value.
The tableware is very high quality, the plates are nice and thick which meant that the children could walk away from the buffet table without the risk of their plates collapsing on them, which as a mum is very important :)  the napkins also managed to pass my 'wet fingers' test which means that they do not disintegrate into a mush when in contact with a little liquid, another important factor at a child's birthday party!
I also purchased another tablecover which I used over the patio doors as a wall hanging!
The bunting is lovely with 9 pennants hanging from lightweight plastic, which makes it perfect for hanging with washi tape, great for staying in place when you want it to, but also makes for easy removal.
 (photo above courtesy of Party Pieces)
How fantastic is this party banner???  It's made of really good quality vinyl, the eyelets are nice and big and far enough away from the edge to prevent tearing, which makes it ideal to be hung outdoors, the colours are really bright and vibrant, overall for £9.99 this is a real bargain!  The banner can be personalised with both name and age for this price, amazing value for money in my opinion for such a great product.

I also purchased a helium balloon canister, I've been looking at these for a while and decided to finally get one this year.
We used the balloons in the party kit, this thing is wonderful!  Why on earth didn't I get one before???  They are so easy to use, balloons literally take seconds to blow up.  The helium lasted about 2 days latex balloons, I'm not sure how long it lasts in foil balloons, because I ordered one from eBay and when I received it, it was 60!!!  (NOTE TO SELF: buy from Party Pieces in the future!)

I really pleased with how these drink bottles turned out, they are just made from wrapping paper cut into strips and wrapped round, I love them!

Of course, we had to have party bags!  In our bags were:
Bubbles - Party Pieces, 69p each
(I actually purchased ours from http://brandskidslove.co.uk/ a great party supply company local to me)
Spider chocolate - Party Pieces £2.79 for 4
Spiderman candy lights - Party Pieces 99p each
Spiderman activity pack (pencil, activity book, stickers, sticker sheet) - Tesco £4.00 for 4 sets
Little tip for you here, even if you have a big cake, make a co-ordinating cupcake to put the candles on (use a number candle if there would be too many individual) I lovingly refer to this cake at the 'spit cake' ;) anyone with little children know that they can't just blow out the candles once, and then all their friends want a turn to - who wants to eat the cake after that!!!!!!

 Finally, whatever you do, don't have 'winning' games for under 5's, we all know it will end in a complete meltdown, we had a couple of dancing games, musical statues, dancing competition and pin the head on spiderman (sorry didn't get a photo!) a piñata is another great idea.  Everyone won my games, including 91 year old Great-Grandma and I used sweets as prizes, that way it's cheap to hand out freely and you can save money on prizes and use for party bags or your back pocket! 
On a final note, I did want to say that I have used Party Pieces for years (for The Teens) and they are a company I highly recommend, I've never had a problem with an order, orders are despatched quickly and with reasonable charges.  The staff I've had dealings with are also incredibly friendly and very professional, if you've never tried them, I'd highly recommend it for your next party or even just playdate supplies.
Tableware and banner supplied free of charge from Party Pieces for purposes of an honest review, all opinions are my own.

|FAMILY|Kids new years eve ideas

Every year since T was born (yes, even when he was 5 days old!) we've spent new years eve with friends from the village, enjoying good wine, lovely food, excellent music and great company, we usually all bring food and drink along the kids go off to play and we have a good old house party, we have a little chill out and watch Jools Hollands Hootananny and after ringing in the new year, the music goes up and we have a second wind and the music goes up and we all have a blooming good time.
If we didn't do this, I'd probably have a little new years eve party for T.  I've scoured pinterest just for you (well not entirely true, I can usually be found hanging out there!) and I've put together a few ideas that I would do for him.

I love these little goodie bags, in fact I did them for our NYE party last year and they went down very well!
Ok so maybe not for boys, but a more 'harry potter' style wand or just the star.
I hope you like some of our ideas!  Do let me know if you have any ideas by adding a link in comments, and I'll pin to the board!

There are lots more ideas on our pinterest board which you can find here.
Have a fantastic new years eve whatever you are doing.

|FAMILY|kids year round-up questionnaire

I've been wanting to do a few family activities to mark the end of this year and welcome the new, one of those activities was to create a simple questionnaire for each of the children to complete (T with help!)

Had a been more prepared for this, I'd have knocked something up and printed it, but as it was I just wrote 3 copies.

I asked The Teens to answer as many questions as they could, they actually spent longer on this than I expected, discussing some of the questions and reminiscing about things they had done separately at school.

They also had a laugh with their Dad doing their weight and height, and helped T out.

I also like the fact that we have their handwriting too, this is definitely something I'll be doing each year, I just wish I'd have done it sooner with them.

To help T, I gave him a few choices if he struggled for example for Best Moment, I gave  him the options 1. Albert's birthday party 2. Meeting Peso 3. Going to Gullivers, 3 things I know he enjoyed but would never have been able to come up with on his own.

Some questions were easy to answer with him, such as Hardest thing I've done, for T that was getting out of nappies, he looked really proud when I said that was the best thing he'd done this year!  Likewise, his 2015 goal is to sleep in his own bed, I think he felt quite grown up having something to aim for himself.

Questions such as Teachers Name, Best Friends, Age, Favourite food he was able to answer for himself.

I liked the fact that all 3 children could do this together and that it's something that T will be able to do each year and we can look back on.

Do you do something similar with your children?  What sort of questions do you ask?  How do you welcome the new year as a family?

I'll be back soon to show you how we are storing these questionnaires.


|FUN|toddler approved Tuesday

Well tomorrow is the last day for #toddlerapprovedtuesday for 2014,  Becky and I are really looking forward to bringing you some great ideas in 2015 and I'm really looking forward to seeing some new linkers and getting lots of ideas from you in the coming months. 
Link up with any toddler or pre-school posts, use #toddlerapprovedtuesday on twitter or instagram.
You post doesn't have to be new, link anything you feel is relevant. 
My entry this week is a simple year round up questionnaire for all children to complete (with or without help!) I thought it would be nice to do this every year and then look back on them as a family as the children get older!

Thank you so much for your support and links during 2014, we'd love for #toddlerapprovedtuesday to grow in the coming year so would really appreciate you helping us to spread the word x 

|COOK|simple vol au vents

A super speedy canapé, appetiser etc for you today!

These quick and easy vol au vents can be put together in minutes, are tasty and look great, win, win, win in my book!

36 pre-made vol au vent cases

- for the mushroom & leek -
1 tbsp olive oil
6-8 medium mushrooms, chopped
1/2 leek sliced thinly
70ml good quality vegetable stock
100ml double cream
1 tsp dried tarragon

- for the chicken & bacon -
1 chicken breast
2 rashers of bacon
1/2 shallot
70ml good quality chicken stock
100ml double cream
1 tsp dried tarragon

1. Cook the chicken breast at 180oC for 25 mins until no longer pink, meanwhile fry off the bacon, remove from pan and cut into tiny pieces using kitchen scissors, leave the oil in the pan.

2. Heat olive oil in a pan and gently fry the mushrooms and leeks.

3. Fry the shallot in the bacon oil.  When chicken is cooked, cut into tiny pieces and add to the pan along with bacon, pour in the stock and cream and add the tarragon, simmer for a few minutes, if sauce is too thick add a little water or more stock.

4. Cook vol au vent cases according to instructions.

5. When mushrooms and leeks are soft, add stock, cream and tarragon, again if it seems to thick, loosen with a little water or stock.

6. When cases are ready split the case, fill with the mixture and serve!  Can be kept in a cool place until needed.

Simple as that!

|#elftakeover|buddy the elf 22 - 24 December

Buddy has left the building, well he's actually in a bag waiting to be repaired before being put in the loft in my pre-christmas box!

Anyway, his final 3 escapades were goodies and went down well.

1. Buddy took a shower, I sent T into the shower room to get undressed and he just squealed, and he couldn't have a shower because Buddy was in there, which he liked very much!

2. Buddy put googly eyes into T's photo, this one took a bit of finding as the photo is on the stairs and T just kept missing it all the time, but thought it was hilarious when he saw it.

3. Finally on Christmas Eve, Buddy bid us adieu, T woke up christmas morning with a little red glitter in his bed which was strange (edible - just in case he got any in his mouth) later on, Buddy sent T the photo below by text, and T realised that the glitter in his bed was the magic elf dust Buddy must have sprinkled when taking the photo as he got to close.  I love how T remembered about the magic elf dust!

I plan to print a copy of this photo and pop it in a little frame and post it to T from Buddy, I'm hoping that it will be a reminder that he needs to be good for the coming year.  Yeah right, who am I trying to kid, I know that won't happen, but it will be quite cute!

Bye bye Buddy, you will be missed! X

|FAMILY|my sunday photo - wonder

I thought that I'd join in with the #mysundayphoto linky over at onedad3girls for 2015, but the photo below really sums up the end of our year so I couldn't resist joining in this week!

This year marks T turning into a little boy, no longer is he a toddler, he can get himself dressed, he goes to the toilet by himself, he's started to write his own name and he is capable of making his own decisions.

I appreciate that this is not the best photo in the world, badly cropped, a radiator in the background, a Santa with a t-shirt & glasses on and a wonky beard, but T's face just says it all to me 'I believe' not for one minute did T recognise his favourite teacher Michael, to him this was Santa, no question about it and that's what christmas has been about for us this year, filling T with wonder, belief and magic.

I'd love to think that we have a few more years of this innocence but if not and some evil little child tells him 'the truth' then we've had this year! 


|FAMILY|carols on the village green

For the past 7 years on Christmas Eve our village have gathered on the village green to sing Christmas carols, eat mince pies and drink mulled wine.  We've always joined in and it's become a bit of a tradition for us and for the past 3 years T has joined us.

We set off down to the green, which happens to be just at the bottom of our road.  T took along the little christmas lantern we made earlier this month.

This year it took a long time to get started and T was getting a little cold and restless.

The mince pie kept him occupied for a while...

As did the yummy gingerbread someone made this year.

The brasiers were lit, the adults all had a cup of mulled wine and the singing started, we managed about 5 songs before T started saying he was too cold and wanted to run about to keep warm!  We sung a few more songs and then took
T home to warm up and sprinkle his reindeer food all over the front garden.

I'm so pleased that our community do things like this over Christmas, it's important to me that T understands why we really celebrate Christmas and appreciates the true meaning, not just the commercial factor.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

|FAMILY|winter bucket list

As christmas is now over for another year, so too is our christmas bucket list, this can only mean one thing... 'Hello!' Winter bucket list!

I'll be posting a round-up of our christmas bucket list next week, but didn't want to wait to make a start in our winter bucket list.

With the threat of snow at the moment, I'm hoping we might even be able to do a couple before next weekend and we go back to work on 5 January.  And if we have no more snow and cold weather (like last year!) we'll be abandoning half of our winter list.  Last year we had to abandon everything because it was all outdoor, snow or frost activities!

The kids have already accomplished no 10 on the list today, so one down 11 to go.  Follow us on twitter, Instagram and Facebook as we start ticking things off the list #lbukwinterbucketlist

Do you have a winter bucket list?  What's on yours?

|CREATE|button initial art

Whilst browsing on pinterest I found some lovely button initials but at quite a heafty price, I really fancied one for our 'family' wall on the stairs so thought I'd have a go at creating my own.

A few months ago my Grandma gave me her button box as I used to play with it all the time as a child and it hold great memories for me, I knew that I wanted to use buttons from her box to make my initial art.  First I sorted all the buttons I wanted to use, I stuck to mother of pearl, white, cream and clear with a few metal ones thrown in.  There were a couple from my button box to use as fillers.  At this point I wasn't sure if I had enough, but T and I filled a tin and I hoped for the best.  I also added a couple of bits which I knew had been in a grandmas tin for a long time, like the keyhole, the mother of pearl handle from a nail file and an old shell.

Buttons etc
Hot glue gun

Using the can of painters touch I used for my button frame last year, I sprayed the paper mâché initial.

I washed the buttons with washing up liquid, giving the a good soak and them scrubbing them with an old toothbrush.

Although the buttons didn't look particularly dirty, they were filthy!  I'm really glad I didn't skip this part!

Once dry, I used the hot glue gun to attach the buttons, at first I tried to place the buttons in position before gluing but I soon realised that it was unnecessary and I actually preferred to just go a bit more random, there are a couple of areas which could have done with different positioning but in general I'm pleased.  I didn't bother removing the button shanks, instead I just built up buttons underneath ans then used the buttons with a shank to fill the spaces.

There were still a few spaces left so I filled those with tiny buttons or miniature shells.


A nice simple word of the week for us this week 'birthday' it's my baby boys 3rd birthday I cannot believe 3 years have passed already.

Birthday preparations and celebrations have dominated the week for us. Christmas now comes second place to the little mans birthday and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I hope you've had a great christmas, see you again in the new year! X

The Reading Residence

|CREATE|baking gift set

Back in the summer T and I painted these wooden spoons with the intention of giving them for gifts at christmas.  I've just finished putting the little baking gift sets together now so thought I'd share.

I bought some little Jane Asher cake baking book and a cupcake case/flag set from poundland.

After placing some mixed sprinkles in a glassine bag, I popped the spoons and cake cases in a little cellophane gift bag and tied up, threading the sprinkles on last.

I then taped the bag to the front of the book using washi tape.

In total these gifts cost £3.25 Each
Pack 5 wooden spoons £1.50 - eBay
The sprinkles I had already but say £2 (for 2 packs)
I split a cupcake case kit £1
Cooking books £2 
Packaging already owned.

We made these for my sister and mum from T.  I hope you'll agree that they are lovely little gifts, I know I certainly would like to receive one.