Friday, 30 November 2012

Recycling Christmas cards into gift tags

When I was little, I remember my mum making gift tags out of of the previous year's Christmas cards, using pinking shears to create a lovely zig-zag edge. 

This is an old idea but a good one. As well as being a great way of recycling, this also means that you can select the gift tag to match the preferences of the recipient.

Following my mum's example, I have made gift tags in the same way this year.*

Here are some photos of my gift tags:

I'm linking up with Recycled Christmas at Lulastic and the Hippyshake. This is a great idea for a link-up. It is very easy to spend too much money at this time of the year, so it feels good to recycle instead of always buying new.

* Of course one thing that has changed since I was a child is that people send fewer Christmas cards. So instead of just using cards from last year I have used Christmas cards received over the past few years.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Magpie Monday - Filofax 'Urban' mini

I've been rethinking my Filofax configuration in readiness for next year. The pocket size Filofax I've been using this year is too much of a compromise - too big to take everywhere with me and too small to write decent notes in when I'm at work. So when I spotted an 'Urban' Filofax in mini size on eBay I thought I'd give that size a go.

When this Filofax arrived I realised that it would be perfect as an everyday wallet, as it has credit card slots, a compartment for notes and a zipped section for coins. I love the charcoal grey fabric and the dinky size.

The pen was a birthday present from my husband and I got myself a 2013 year planner and some lavender notepaper from Rymans. So now I'm all set. 

I was sat in a cafe today, writing my Christmas present list and thinking how lovely this pre-loved Filofax is. It just goes to show that you don't have to buy new to get something nice.

I'll be linking up with Magpie Monday at Me and My Shadow because I really enjoy seeing what other pre-loved items others have found.

Me and My Shadow

No-sew lavender sachets made from odd socks

How to turn odd socks into lovely lavender sachets:
  1. Gather together all the odd socks* left over after you've had a clear out, and ensure they are all clean before you start.
  2. Use a dessert spoon to fill each sock with dried lavender (or you could use mixture of lavender and dried rice). Ask your four-year-old to help you with this for extra fun and educational value!
  3. Tightly tie up the top of the sock using narrow ribbon.
So there you go, low cost and almost instant lavender sachets made from otherwise useless odd socks - and no sewing machine required. 

These lavender sachets are particularly good for putting in shoes to freshen them up a bit. I've put two of them in my red sandals (see photo below) and now the hall cupboard smells lovely.

* Where do all the odd socks come from? No matter what I do, we always seem to end up with some lone socks!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Magpie Monday - Hunting High and Low

This weekend I had an opportunity for a thorough look around the local charity shops without a small boy in tow. I set myself a £10 budget and then almost blew it straight away on a biscuit tin full of bobbins of thread.

But then I decided to see what else I could get for the same money.

The first thing I spotted, tucked away in amongst the homewares in the Sue Ryder shop, was a little kit to make a beaded broach. I didn't like the design at all, but 95p for lots of pretty beads, some stitching paper and a broach pin seemed like a real bargain.

I've always really fancied trying stitching paper but have never been brave enough to buy a packet of the stuff in case I turned out to be hopeless at it. So I'm pleased to have a little square to practice on, and I'm planning to use it to make a Christmas card. Will show you the results if it works out!

My next stop was the PDSA shop, where I found three DVDs for £1.49 each. The one I'm most excited about is Strictly Come Dancersize.

Also in the PDSA shop, I bought a couple of gorgeous Denby cereal bowls, £2.49 the pair. I think the pattern is Minstrel based on the photos here, which means that it dates from 1971-1977 according the information here. This design will go nicely with my other Denby and Midwinter items.

So that left me just over £3 from my £10 budget to spend on an original vinyl version of A-ha's first album Hunting High and Low from 1985, which I have been listening to whilst writing this blog post. A real blast from the past! I was 14 when it first came out.

I'm linking up with Magpie Monday at Me and My Shadow and Me Time Monday at Mums and Me.

Me and My Shadow MumsandMe

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Frankie and Benny's cocktail menu

There is a new cocktail menu at Frankie & Benny's. All the classics are there, including my favourite cocktail: the Cosmopolitan. This is described on the menu as follows:

A ladies favourite! The combination of Eristoff vodka, triple sec, fresh lime juice and cranberry, finished with an orange zest.

So it was with a happy heart that I headed the Nottingham City Centre Frankie & Benny's with a voucher in my handbag for two courses and two cocktails. I met up with 7 other local bloggers who also had the same vouchers and we had a lovely time.

I had two Cosmopolitans and they were delicious. Not too sweet and very refreshing, especially after a hard day at work.

The food was good too. I had the goats cheese and red onion wrap with fries and a mango sorbet for dessert.

Here are some photos of us enjoying ourselves:

Left to right: bloggers from Baby Budgeting, Alexander Residence, Super Lucky and me.

Left to right: bloggers from The Mummy DiaryLove Chic Living, MummyLish and The Ana Mum Diary.

We did have a few suggestions as to how it could have been even nicer:

  • turn the music down, so that it is easier to talk without having to raise voices
  • make the cocktail menu easier to read, the lettering was tiny and didn't show up clearly against the dark-coloured background
  • for the cocktails with ice, more cocktail and less ice would be good.

But even with these minor quibbles, it was a fun evening, and a real treat.

Disclosure: I received vouchers for two food courses and two cocktails (or other drinks), and so did the friends I was with. All reviews on this blog are completely honest.

Thank you to Becky for the photos of people - I only remembered to take photos of the cocktails!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

'Teach Your Monster To Read' - game review and competition

I came across a quote recently: 'Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.' This seems very true - I've been sharing picture books with my little boy, who turned 4 in August, since he was born.

But when it comes to phonics, I haven't really known where to start. To be honest, I have been scared of mispronouncing things and causing confusion when my son starts school.

So yesterday afternoon I sat with my son on my lap and we tried out a new game called 'Teach Your Monster to Read'. This game is absolutely free and we really enjoyed playing it. I'm pretty sure we both learned a lot too, though we were having so much fun that it didn't seem like hard work.

Whether it was herding sheep into the right pen:

Playing a retro platform game with flowers telling you which direction to go in:

Or trying to rescue the princess by choosing the right sounds to climb the tower:

Here are some of the points I thought were really good about the 'Teach Your Monster to Read' game:

  • very strong link between the sounds and the letters
  • your child can choose which games they play and which prizes they are playing for
  • it features the voice of Simon Farnaby, from Horrible Histories

So we will definitely be playing this again!

Draw a Monster Competition

The folks at Teach Your Monster to Read would love to see your little monsters’ monster designs.
They’re giving away £200 of Usborne books to the monsters the judges would most like to have as a pet.
For a chance to win, they’re asking children to draw (or paint or build) a monster and send a photograph of the finished work to go in their online gallery.
The monster can be one from the Teach Your Monster to Read game or from your imagination – it can be friendly, spooky, scary or silly!
The judges will be Cathy James from plus her two daughters – they will have the hard task of choosing the winning pet monsters.
Good luck!
1st prize: £150 worth of Usborne books of your choice*
2nd and 3rd prizes: £25 worth of Usborne books of your choice*

* Subject to availability, of course!
How to enter 
Send a photograph of your monster’s monster drawing to
Deadline is 5pm on Friday 9th November 2012.
The winners will be announced on Friday 16th November 2012
For full competition details - check out the Teach Your Monster to Read blog.

Disclosure: we will be sent 3 books of our choice from the Usbourne: Very First Reading Series as a thank you for publicising the competition.