Christmas Craft #1: Family Fun Wish Labels

advent activity with our   box

I’m optimistically going to try and do at least 20 crafts for Christmas over the next month. Quite how, I have no idea, but I think I need a goal to make myself work at.

All of us are feeling like our family time has gone horribly wrong over the last few months and we are aching to do some things together that make us feel like a unit again, so I came up with this, which is a twist on the advent calender we hang up every year, made with items from our Bostik Family Craft Blogger box.

There are 24 old fashioned luggage labels, in festive colours, in the basket, each one decorated with an assortment of pretties, mostly stuck on with our Bostik Glue Dots. The backs are blank and each day of advent someone will fill in some simple family activity that they would like us to do together during our precious 2 weeks of family time together. (No panto! Yay! I put my foot down this year.) It can be anything we can actually achieve (not ‘go to Lapland’) and everyone has to think of 6 different things to write (so we don’t end up with more than 6 films to watch).

Josie decorated our paper bag with pretties and through December our bag should fill up with lovely things to do together during our holiday. It’s something to look forward to.

advent activity with our   box

Here are some other ideas for advent calendars.

Box Calendar - simple and beautiful

Advent Gingerbread House – I don’t reckon it would last the month!

Baby Socks Stocking Calendar – gorgeous and much easier than crocheting them!

Pretty decorated canvas bags – gorgeous!

My own crochet advent calendar from last year.

And a rather fabulous set of toilet roll holders!

My Christmas craft Pinterest board is as popular as ever:-

Follow Merrily Me’s board Christmas Crafts on Pinterest.

And I have extra ideas on Simple Crafts and on this site.

Peaceful Afternoon: Make with Mother Challenge.

Everyone is full of cold and off school. Maddy is busy writing a story & Josie and Bene are indulging in review playdoh and megablocks . Do you see my nice curtains

I can’t really believe it is 10 days since I blogged (Yeah, I started this a few days ago). Silence is always a worry, huh? We are mired under in Christmas at work, busy, stressed children and tired, ill, grumpy everything. There is lots I should write and record. And lots I just feel I can’t. (And now I have.)

Yesterday, with 2 girls off poorly and Bene on a home day, I decided to just sit and observe. I pulled out a pack of review products that arrived from House of Fraser and let Josie and Bene loose on them. I was hoping I’d get an hour or so of them both being a little happier than they’ve been recently.


The silence was golden. The sun was shining and the new red curtains were giving me a happy feeling. Despite the heavy colds and child refusing to go to school and the normally noisy toddler, peace reigned. And for one of the first times, Bene and Josie engaged in something together, playing alongside each other, rather than a rampaging toddler and a frustrated tween.

We chose a couple of PlayDoh kits from House of Fraser; because I’m mean I tend not to buy shop dough, because I always feel I can make it myself. There are, of course, a million places to find out how to make sensory versions of it and all singing and dancing versions – but you just can’t beat the real thing.

Totally absorbed

We chose a game, where you fire pressed balls of dough into a mad monster thing, which caused an enormous amount of hilarity even without the added battery that was actually required! The game also has lots of press shapes built into the frame of the game, which worked perfectly with our other choice, which was the Double Desserts set. With a tinging pudding over, a heap of moulds and plates and a dough prep area, Josie just loved it and dived right in to making up recipes for the day.

As you can see, they were engrossed. It was the calmest, happiest day for weeks.

Review halloo!

Last up on our set of activities is a simply MAMMOTH loom band thing called a Link-a-Loom, with 9 rows. It’s really chunky and impressive but we’ve yet to achieve anything meaningful with it! I’ll get back to you. Amelie and I are still working on it.

Thanks to House of Fraser who sent us our kits for a Make with Mother crafty afternoon. It really cheered us up and meant my kids got to play with stuff I don’t normally buy.



The Perfect Picnic.


At the beginning of the summer, just before our perfect holiday in Devon, we took a trip down to our local park to get us back in the habit of spending time together. It was entirely impromptu, with no grand food plans and very few wonderful photos. But in the soft heat of the end of the day, rugby ball, bikes and rounders bat were nearly all we needed. I stopped and grabbed a few packs of firm favourite biscuits, fruit bars and water and met the family on the parched grass of an uninspiring, but nonetheless available park.


We are a family who adore each other. We haven’t spent enough time together recently. That I remember that one point of the summer as a high point of the year speaks volumes to me. I’ve got too hooked up on wanting family time to be perfect; the perfect place, the perfect weather, the perfect day.

Vita Coco who recently released a new range of flavoured Coconut Water drinks, sent us a picnic hamper in October. This was, admittedly, rather late to be trying to think of a perfect place to picnic although it did mean I got to think fondly about our holiday and that idyllic evening with the bikes and balls.

Improvising with our #vitacocokids picnic set #review @tots100

Bene however, reminded me exactly what it was all about. He unpacked the hamper, turned the frisbee into a tray, made me “sit down play mummy” and proceeded to spend a long and happy hour or two with my full attention and significant adoration, serving me up meals of beads while sipping happily on a carton of coconut water with a straw. (Which is, as we all know, toddler heaven. Straws! Whoohoo!!!)

It was the perfect picnic. Exactly what we both needed.

Here’s what they say about their drink:

What is Vita Coco?

Vita Coco’s all-natural, super-hydrating, fat-free, cholesterol-free, nutrient-packed, potassium-stacked, mega-electrolyte coconut water!

Bene certainly seemed to like it :)

Disclosure: we were sent a hamper of goodies for the purpose of this review. Words are our own.


If you wanna be a record breaker…….. yeah….. #GWR60

Really huge cheer for the  team for inviting us to a fantastic birthday party. Maddy & I had a ball

Last week Maddy and I had the wonderful good luck to join some (not all, just some) of my very favourite bloggers at the Guinness World Records 60th birthday bash.

It’s not often a bloggy event comes up that I know is just perfect for Maddy but with her love of the extra-ordinary, her fixation with figures and her delight in competition, I just knew this one was for us to go to together. Maddy and I don’t have all that much opportunity to just ‘be together’ these days as her interests are not quite the ones I’m naturally drawn to. It was lovely to have the opportunity to take a train trip with her and chat about the things that make her tick (music, singing, writing) and enjoy making our way across London together.

And then we arrived  – having met the endlessly noisy Sian and Nickie on our way down the road (I’m not going to mention that I was pointing in the wrong direction and you definitely don’t know that) and made our way to the party.

We let them off

Some people really know how to do a party and the #gwr60 people really did. After being assigned to our mystery teams we had a fantastic presentation from the editor of the Guinness Book of World Records, all about some of the longest standing records and the ones they no longer do (feeding cats till the might explode having hit the ‘maybe not’ list in recent times).

Mr  the editor. Awesome chap.

One of the great new innovations in this years book is the augmented reality which uses an app to bring certain record breakers to life direct from the book to your phone! Maddy loved this, particularly the biggest spider!

Watching a demo of augmented reality in 3d at  birthday party!

We also had demonstrations from the World’s Loudest Burper (top tip, don’t eat on performance days!) and a man doing insanely daft things on a bike in a very small space.

Holder of world's loudest burp record!

Robots that solve Rubik's cube.

Maddy and I both had our fancies most tickled by Lego robots that solve Rubik’s cubes though. Completely, unutterably brilliant and you can even build your own.

Next up was the focus group bit where we were introduced to the new Guinness Kids website and got to stand in an entire room filled with the back catalogue of this iconic brand.

All the Guinness record books. A whole room full.

It always fascinates me to see how branding changes and evolves over the years and this part of the process got my juices going. I’m probably a bit odd!

And then it was time for some fun :lol: Each team got a chance to try and beat a world record. I’m very pleased to say I was at one point second on the leaderboard for gift wrapping a GWR Book …

All my  training has come in handy. Second on the leaderboard for record breaking present wrapping. (Beaten by an ninja mum  )

… but I sadly didn’t quite stay there (although I think mine was one of the neatest!) I was also rubbish at jelly scooping but did make it, with a number of fellow big bottomed bloggers, on to the final, OFFICIAL WORLD RECORD BREAKING ATTEMPT WITH A LADY IN A BLAZER of the burst balloons with your bum challenge.

But we didn’t beat it. I think I’m actually quite happy that I had to bounce on my 2nd balloon three times to pop it :lol:

Smallest caravan in the world

Our final treat of the day was meeting the worlds fastest shopping trolley and, impossibly fabulously, the worlds smallest caravan.

Loved it.

Thanks GWR :)

Disclosure: we had a day out thanks to the brand mentioned. Words and thoughts are our own.


Dear Milano Leotards.

To whom it may concern,

I wish to complain about the unexpected removal of money from my account this weekend, 5 1/2 months after you should have done. I understand your bank caused you difficulties and you had to process these very late and I also do understand that problems like this can occur.

What I do not understand, given that as an online retailer for 13 years I have a pretty good grip of how an ecommerce retailer system works, is why you didn’t make a decision to collate the email addresses of people who had purchased during the affected time and email out a warning that some of us might be affected by an up and coming debit. This would have given people such as myself, who had not realised the money had not been debited, a chance to ensure the money was safely in the account and that it wouldn’t cause issues with other payments. I understand that the bank couldn’t release individual data, but you would have been able to do that. If a small business like my own, run by 3 people and processing £?00,000 of sales a year can manage it, I’m sure you would have had the manpower and technical competence to do so.

The debit of £46 has caused me considerable inconvenience. I appreciate it was money I had authorised you to take but I don’t keep a close watch on my account, particularly at that time of year when I buy gifts for 3 birthdays and I hadn’t been aware of your error. Since I know perfectly well you can take the money for up to 6 years, I would have called you to let you know of the issue if I had spotted it, since I am scrupulously honest.

Far greater than the inconvenience caused – which means that a child has not been able to go on a trip this week as that £50 has long since been inadvertently spent again – has been the behaviour of your staff.

Twitter told me the sales staff had tried to email me but my account was bouncing which was a) entirely at odds with all the mail perfectly happily arriving through the day and b) did not correspond with the fact that when I went to your site and asked for a password reset, your site was able to immediately send a mail through to me.

I called your sales staff to express the difficulties this unexpected debit had caused me and explained that I had been genuinely unaware that your system failure had not debited my account at the time. She told me I should have had the “common decency” to check my purchase had completed and let you know I hadn’t been charged.

I think you should have had the common decency to more proactively warn customers. You could have caused my mortgage to bounce or a number of other significant issues.

Your sales staff lady was unspeakably rude, including laughing at me when I was outraged by her words and I’ve since been ignored on Twitter. I have therefore lodged this experience with Trading Standards. You may not have broken any laws, but you’ve fallen well and truly short of good service.

I hope to hear from you with an apology, not least because my 3 gymnasts will be very sorry never to receive another Milano leotard as a birthday gift as it stands

Best wishes,
Merry Raymond