Tag Archives: Christmas

It’s Christmas!

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I’ve been tagged!!!

I’ve been nominated by Baby Steps to share my experience of Christmas and help you all get in a nauseatingly festive mood. Despite only just rekindling my love affair with all things festive, this is my very first time being tagged and therefore I can’t resist giving it a go. I can’t promise you’ll read this and feel all warm and glowy inside – I’ve scanned the questions and am already dreading having to reveal my inner Grinch.But Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of moan so let me do yours for you, sit back, and let’s dish the dirt on Christmas!

What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?

I used to be incredibly indifferent to Christmas. From about the age of 18, I’ve lived alone and all the trekking to see relatives, the expense, the buying presents etc used to overwhelm me. It was always nice seeing everyone but it seemed like a whole lot of fuss for just one day.

Now my attitude is unrecognisable. With Dexter here, I’m hugely excited for him. The tree is up, the presents are in the process of being wrapped, the plans to see the wider family are coming together. Dexter is far too young to appreciate my efforts but this year is a practice round for those to come. I’ll be mentally preparing a list of things we need for next year to make it extra special when he’s finally able to join in.

If I was pushed to say the thing that makes Christmas special for me – it would have to be champagne at lunchtime. The aim is to get suitably drunk by dinner so the crappy tv schedule doesn’t make you suicidal.

ChampagneChristmasWhat is your favourite make-up look for the festive season?

Same as always. I always have red nails, nude lips bronzed cheekbones and smokey eyes. I have quite a distinctive face and if I wear anything more than this, I tend to look like a drag queen which isn’t a good look at all. In fact watching my face deteriorate throughout the day is a pretty common theme at Christmas. When I drink red wine my cheeks redden and my lips stain – it’s a sure-fire way to tell where Gemma sits on the drunk-o-meter as I’m usually pretty self-conscious about how I look.

Real or Fake trees?

REAL!!!! I can’t stand fake trees. When I was a little girl, we used to get our trees from the same gypsy encampment every year. Knowing what I do know about gypsy’s I can understand why my dad used to restrict the amount of cash he bought with him. This was the closest pop-up store in a field near to our house and it used to be a fairly big deal picking the right tree. At aged 16 when I was told we were having a fake tree for the first year ever – I remember getting in a mighty strop about it.

Sure the needles fall off and you sometimes prick yourself when decorating it – but I love the imperfectness of a real tree, and the smell is gorgeous. Fake trees are always too green, and no amount of tinsel can cover the plasticky middle section.

Giving or receiving presents?

If I say receiving I’ll look like a right selfish bint so giving it is! No in all seriousness I do like buying presents for some people.There’s nothing better than that feeling when you know you’ve got it right. You’ve found something unique and cool that the receiver will use all year round and tell their mates about.

For some reason I really feel the pressure when buying for my other half though. He’ll never say what he wants so it’s always a guessing game and I know my choices are sometimes disappointing. I seem to fall into the trap of spending more and hoping he’s impressed by the price tags. Worst present has to be Apple TV that I bought him last year – we’ve used it once.

Do you open your presents in the morning or evening?

Always the morning. This year though Dexter has lots of little pressies so we’ll probably stagger it so he gets a whole days worth of surprises.

What’s your favourite Christmas film?

I hate them all!!! Tee hee – that’s not strictly true. I’m not a huge film fan and find heartwarming films a little cutesy for my liking. I definitely prefer films for grown ups so my favourites would Die Hard or Edward Scissorhands. Something that doesn’t overdo it on the Christmas Trees and Carol Singing.

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Before you all shake your head in sympathy and pray for me – I’m sure with Dexter here I’ll have to get used to cartoons and U rated movies in the near future. Maybe my son’s face during Toy Story will restore my faith in Disney. Until then, I’m banning terrestrial tv on Christmas Day. Daddy and I will watch a box set of Batman or something equally dark and action packed.

What is your favourite Christmas food?

Has to be cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon, and all the little finger food bits and pieces. Anything my Craig cooks is delicious but let’s face it – you wouldn’t cook Turkey at any other time than Christmas Day – you’d opt for chicken which is far tastier.

Reading this back I’m still a weeney bit Bah Humbug aren’t I? Oh dear – well with each day that passes I’m sure I’ll get into the spirit a little more.

I’m tagging three of my favourite blogger’s to (hopefully) spread a little more joy xx

Mummy Bird

Attachment Mummy

Mum’s the Word

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O Christmas Tree! Special thanks to Cambium

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Last year was a comedy of errors as far as the Christmas Tree goes. We had just moved house, I was heavily pregnant, and we left it far too late to buy a tree. We debated not getting one and tried to tell ourselves we didn’t need one, but seeing the hundreds of pretty trees posted on Facebook, I eventually snapped and barked at Craig that we had to have one.

So two weeks before Christmas Craig virtually had to perform an Indiana-Jones-style-roll through the doors at Homebase before they shut for evening. Rushing through to the plant section he had to literally wade through scores of broken and deformed trees to find one large enough for our lounge. I remember that tree very well as it ended up living in our bath for two days. It had an abnormally large base and didn’t fit in our planter. We had tried laying in down in our kitchen and hacking at it with a carving knife (in hindsight – the most inappropriate tool ever) to try to slice off some of the excess – but it’ll come as no surprise this didn’t work.

In desperation we posted on Twitter and Facebook appealing for someone to help us track down a planter big enough to hold up our tree. As the only response we got was from Cumbria, we ended up waiting for an auction to end on eBay for a resizable one in London (50 miles away). Craig then had to take time off work to go and pick up the bloody thing. With a tree languishing in our bath, it literally couldn’t come soon enough – it had begun to show signs of mould and had developed a kind of curvature of the spine resulting in a very prominent bend in the trunk.

When we finally got the tree up, the wonky bit threatened to tip it up at any moment. We ended up propping it up against the wall and giving it a wide berth for the 3 weeks it was up.  With the lights costing us £80 (as everywhere had run out of the cheap ones) that tree was nightmare from start to finish!

So this year, when an old friend messaged me on Facebook with an offer of a tree delivered to our door, we bit his hand off. The offer was from Stuart from Cambium – a specialist corporate plant supplier that I have worked with before in a professional capacity. I’ve actually been an office manager for several London-based firms, and always took Cambium with me from job to job. They’ve supplied me with perfectly manicured indoor trees and ornate flowers that always got wonderful comments from colleagues and office visitors. Cambium were always such an absolute pleasure to work with and the plants always looked fabulous (despite my considerable knack for killing plants just by admiring them).

As a special thank you for inviting them to tender for a few big contracts, Stuart has given us the most beautiful tree for our home. It has to go down as the best tree we’ve ever had – fantastically bushy and smells divine. It’s certainly made up for all the stress of last year and we’re so grateful.

We had lots of fun decorating it and I only hope we’ve done it justice – what do you think? I’m not sure we’ll be winning any prizes soon…

Dear Santa… (a.k.a Craig)

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I’m sat here racking my brains to come up with a reason why I deserve a present this year. I’ve done some terrible things and it suddenly occured to me that you might decide to buy me a tea towel (or something equally hideous) as punishment. I read somewhere once that Santa still considers dropping by if you get in quick and say sorry – so here we go…

I’m sorry that I…

  • Demand absolute silence during Downton Abbey & the Young Apprentice (as the BBC has no breaks and I can’t concentrate for extended periods)
  • (Occassionally) fake the odd headache to get to bed early / avoid dealing with Dexter when he’s stroppy
  • Always steal the last Muller Fruit Corner when your back’s turned
  • Smirk when Manchester United lose at football
  • Made you buy an exercise bike and haven’t used it once
  • (Often) use your last razor blade to shave my legs
  • Sneak the heating on full when you’ve expressly told me not to
  • (Often) made myself ‘busy’ after dinner to get out of the washing up
  • Pretended for months the vacuum cleaner didn’t cater for left-handed people to get out of the hoovering

And that’s just crimes against you!

As you know, I’ve also accidentally stolen some Soya tablets and a bottle of Cilit Bang from Tescos as my coat was positioned so that I couldn’t see it in the trolley. Then there’s the bottle brush from MAM we accidentally pinched from the BabyShow as we both thought the other one had paid for it! I noticed both these crimes before we left the car park’s and didn’t go back to re-correct my mistakes.

So really, all things considered, you could say I don’t deserve a present. You could even shop me to the police!

But if can look past all the above – and can stand the thought of sharing your bed with Reading’s version of Bonnie for another year…

I’d reeeeaaaaallllyyyy like one of these…

As you’re not the sharpest when it comes to computers, you need to click on the image. This will take you through to the Dinky Fingerprint Company – or you can just click here.

Now I know you like to have researched every purchase you make. You’ll be pleased to know, I’ve done the hard work for you on this one. I’ve checked out rival company’s and this is the one I want. I’m thinking muted browns, ambers or greens rather than Barbie Pink.

Thank you my darling… til next year…
Gemma

Why we love Sundays!

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With daddy home, we get to dress up and mess about with the camera! I bought this cute little hat weeks ago and couldn’t wait to shoot you in it.

We get to do bits and pieces in your room too. Daddy is nice and tall so can help me pin up decorations. I’ve wanted to put up this heart garland from Butterflies and Ballerinas for months and months but I’m a tiddly 5ft 4 and couldn’t reach far enough up the nursery wall. We also had some bunting to put up. Your room is now my favourite in the house and I love being in there.

Sunday is also Fun-day, we can get messy and paint knowing that daddy will be on hand with baby wipes when we’ve finished! I’ve been meaning to do your paw prints for ages but suspected you’d furl up and we wouldn’t get a print out of you. This was definitely a three person job and I’m glad we managed it before your 6 month birthday on Friday. We’ve decided to do these every 6 months now so we can see how much you’ve grown.

Finally – I get to wrap up Christmas presents – my favourite way to relax. Yes, it’s early November and I’m nearly done!

Our Excellent BabyShow Experience

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First off, I have to credit the fab guys at ErgoPouch for the tickets. I won them from a Facebook competition and was beyond excited.

The truth is, I’d been begging The Man for ages to go. Ever-the-practical one, he’d already begun googling car parking spaces and train fares to work out our best route – needless to say we were ecstatic to save on the entry fee to buy more bits. I insisted on getting there when the doors opened which meant leaving the house at 7.30am (getting Dex up at 6am!) – so we left the house looking a bit hagged but very excited.

Dex – Looking fairly miserable to be honest!

We weren’t at all disappointed. I turned into one of those cringey tour-guide-types pointing out every brand I knew. Craig persevered with me though and lasted until 5pm (with a quick beer break which was more than deserved). So here’s our pick of the show!

Value-for-money:

Morrck: Their blankets were my favourite of the show. We fell in love with the colours and quality and thought they were a steal at the show price. I stupidly left the stall to ‘think’ about it, and completely forgot to go back and grab one. Since the show, I’ve been digging around a little at home and found that their prices are still very respectable with blankets at just £19.95. Big thumbs up from us, and firmly on the Christmas list!

The perfect value-for-money accessory

Pumpkin Patch: I don’t even need to comment on how great these guys are. I was seriously impressed with them at the show too. Offering a staggering 50% off label prices, we bagged two winter hats and a pair of warm and cosy yoga trousers for just £11.

Interestingly, I mentioned the brand to my sister-in-law-to-be yesterday and her response was “Oh I know. They’re designer aren’t they? So really expensive?” – well no actually, I’ve always found them to be really reasonably priced. I’d recommend signing up to Patch eClub to get the latest promotions straight to your inbox.

By Carla: This has to go down as my steal of the show. I hadn’t heard of By Carla before the show which is perhaps unsurprising as they don’t sell direct and partner with regional stockists. Our nearest one is in Slough which isn’t somewhere we’d ever think of visiting. Never-the-less I got an absolute bargain super fluffy white rug for just £17. This sets off Dexter’s room perfectly and will be used for countless photographs to come.

Best Innovation:

Brush-Baby: I’m not going to comment too much here as I’m impressed enough to dedicate a whole blog post to the brand. I met the gorgeous Lulu (the brands inventor’s daughter) and she gave me a seriously detailed sales pitch that was enough to convince me to buy the Tooth Brush / Teether. Dexter has taken to this like a storm – keep checking back to my blog for a detailed run through of some of the other products available and their benefits. Until then, here is Dexie gumming his to death!

Dexie and his Brush-Baby!

VeraTemp: I felt so incredibly sorry for this lonely looking stall. The sales guy looked completely overwhelmed by the hoards of pregnant ladies and strollers. I saw him give someone a quick demo and couldn’t resist seeing the product close-up. The product is genius and a must-have item for any parent in my eyes. It’s a point-and-record non-contact thermometer.

As Dexter was ill at 6 weeks, I remember desperately struggling with a conventional under-the-armpit thermometer to get his temperature. Dexter got stressed easily and it was virtually impossible to get an accurate reading. This product allows you to take a sleeping childs temperature with zero danger of waking them up or distressing them. There’s also a colour changing display that indicates when the child is too hot. I’ve already asked for this for Christmas.

mOmma: Genius. A fork that doesn’t touch the floor. At £1.50 (BabyShow special price) we just had to buy it. It’s weighted on the non-fork end, and rounded so it naturally stays upright. Dex hasn’t moved onto forks yet so we haven’t had a chance to test it but I can imagine it’ll be roadtested to the max in a few months time. You can grab one for yourself here at Amazon for £1,99.

Yoomi: I’m guessing Yoomi aren’t such newbies on the baby scene now as they’ve had endless great press. Their self warming bottle technology is such a great idea for breastfeeding mum’s as it achieves breast milk temperature in just 60 seconds. Dexie has been bottle-fed from 6 weeks and actually prefers his milk slightly cold but I can see how brilliant the technology is behind this brand. I guess my reservation is that the bottle warmer can only sit within the Yoomi bottle but hey, they have to make money somehow.

Rather surprisingly, the bigger hit in our house has been the Yoomi Lambi. We received this cute microwavable soft lamb toy from the BabyShow for free as per a promo I spotted on a blog, but you can get it from the online Yoomi shop for £8.99. It’s adorable! You simply pop in the microwave for 2 minutes and it’s a soft warm snuggly toy for children. It’s also lightly infused with lavender to promote sleep. This works a treat in Dexie’s cot (as he’s too little to actually snuggle with teddy). We just tuck him in and pop it out of arms reach and Dexter seems to like it.

Style Files:

Merino Kids: Who doesn’t like Merino Kids sleepwear. It’s ridiculously soft and the muted colours scream luxury. We had a long chat with a salesperson who was keen to tell me that the brand aspired to be “every parent’s No 1 sleep-choice brand”. As much as I can appreciate why their breathable fabric is amazing for delicate skin, I think this will be an uphill struggle considering the celebrity price tag. Never-the-less they are seriously stylish and gorgeous. Dexter has entered to be their next face of 2013 so who knows, he might be swaddled up in Merino as soon as next year!

I want one of those! Merino Kids – Hat and Scarf set… aww!

Ruby and Ginger: These guys are the proud innovators behind the Nappy Purse. They secured funding from Ireland’s Dragon’s Den and countless celebrity’s are stepping out with their product on their arm. The Nappy Purse is sleek, stylish and practical (how rehearsed do I sound?? But I actually mean every word). So often I find myself taking a huge changebag to Tesco’s or friends houses when I just don’t need to. This cute little bag contains a baby wipe case and enough space for several nappies, plus a handy pouch for your mobile or lipstick. I’m expecting a review product shortly so will be writing a detailed review in the next few weeks. Until then, here’s Zoe Ball modelling hers!

Faye & Lou: Definitely the most colourful stall of the lot.Their rainbow muslins are such a simple idea and are hugely popular. They’re quickly turning into an iconic brand where mums-in-the-know will give each other the secret nod whenever they see a bright green muslin.

Stokke: I don’t need to say too much about Stokke. I’ve been secretly coveting a Stokke Tripp Trapp for ages and it was great to see the product up close and personal. Even better was to have my Craig there with me so he got to fall in love with it too. This will no doubt be a secondhand eBay purchase for us but who cares – this product could last for years! The Tripp Trapp is now celebrating its 40th birthday and still looks better than ever if you ask me.

This genius product grows with your child.. now if only I could find clothes that would do the same!

Best Eco / Green Products:

DermaH20 WaterWipes: YESSSSSS. Finally a baby wipe that doesn’t bring Dexter’s face out in a rash. These are the world’s purest and mildest baby wipes containing only 99.9% water and 0.1% fruit extract. I can’t rave enough about these. Of course they’re perfect for babies prone to nappy rash or with sensitive skin, but they’re also great for quick top and tailing throughout the day. Every parent-to-be should have these in their hospital bags, and the homeopathic crowd won’t be disappointed either. Top marks.

gNappies: I completely understand that the battle of the cloth / reusable nappy brands is at fever pitch right now. Wading in with my two-pennies is bound to prompt a backlash as I appreciate some will claim to be more eco-friendly than others. However, I was most impressed by gNappies and ever so tempted to switch from disposables. They’re stylish, well designed, and part-disposable so you won’t find yourself hand deep in poo.

Most impressive was the elasticated cuffs around the legs to allow freedom of movement, and the fact you adjust the waistband of the nappy at the back (rather than the front /sides). I could already see that all the little marks Dexter usually gets around his tummy and upper leg wouldn’t be a problem with these. The designs were also pretty gorgeous and I could see myself taking pic after pic of a semi naked Dexter looking as cool as ever.

gPants – Simply gorgeous

The problem I have with them, and all part-disposable brands is the cost of the inserts. I must reiterate, it’s the inserts and not the actual cloth part. In all truthfulness, I’d pay £50 for a good quality cloth component that would be comfortable for Dexter and this would still work out cheaper than disposables. Nope, my issue is the cost of the disposable strips that sit within the cloth part. I just can’t fathom why these work out to be so expensive. At £10 for 40 – this is more than we pay for Pampers, and not so easily available. As the insert uses less than half the material of a full disposable, why is this? Come on gNappies – I soooo want to be converted but you just need to go that one step further and slash the price. I just feel there should be a reward for going-green and the very act of doing so should be made more cost-effective for parents.

I must admit, this is the sort of brand you want to trial to see how you get on, rather than invest in it and find yourself slipping back to a disposable lifestyle. I’d definitely like to give it a go- not least for the awesome photographs! 🙂 In all seriousness maybe all the pros would outweigh my minor itsy bitsy con – who knows…

Educational / Traditional brands:

Pixie and Punk: I first stumbled on Tagore’s unique take on clothes via Casabu (the deal site was partnering with P&P at the time). His little t-shirts have pockets with miniature teddies and come in a mini cotton bag. I remember thinking it was a cute idea and making a note to visit his website. I had no idea he did books until I bumped into him at the BabyShow.

The concept is interesting. He combines a traditional story with photographs rather than illustrations. When I was little I remember my favourite books being the factual ones; ones about wildlife, or how-to-draw – they made me feel like an adult and didn’t patronise me. As we chatted about the brand, Tagore said that he felt his books aid a child’s development as she / he are encouraged to associate words with actual objects, animals and people, rather than cartoons. I personally think it goes even further than this – seeing animals as nature intended gets them into conservation, seeing vegetable’s photographed brilliantly and beautifully could help them make real healthy food choices… there’s a compelling argument here.

The brand is still young and I got the sense there was much more to come from Tagore – so I’ll be keeping my ear close to the ground.

Marks & Spencers: Good ole Marks. They get best-in-show from me for featuring their latest collections and offering us all 20% off ticket prices. We got some really lovely bits for Dexie including a lovely blue snowsuit and some warm reversible jogging bottoms. This will be Dexie’s first ever winter so we’ve really stocked up on jumpers and onesies to keep him lovely and snug. No other brand seems to offer such superior quality when it comes to children’s clothes – yet they so often don’t get any recognition. I literally wanted everything I saw!

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All in all – our experience was brilliant. It was great to see all the brands I know so much about, but have never physically touched before. Sorry this post has worked out to be so link heavy but sharing is caring and all that!

So have I missed any out? What were your highlights?