Our Favourite Printable Resource Sites

Our favourite printable resource sites have kept us busy this half term with lots of fun, printed activities. Sharing them seemed a good idea and a way to keep track ourselves. Keeping the girls busy with printed sheets is something I have really enjoyed being able to do again. We have found some fantastic website for all kind of printables from masks, colouring, counting, cutting & making.

Our Favourite Printable Resource Sites

 

Educational Resources

We love educational resource sites as they have some fantastic activities. We currently have free accounts for Ichild & Twinkl resources but have a full account with Mrs Mactivity. The girls really enjoy finding fun new educational resources, especially seasonal ones during school holidays. 

  1. Mrs Mactivity – A newly launched Printable Resource site, Mrs Mactivity has a collection of fun printables. From handwriting, math, mindful colouring, dot-to-dot and seasonal hunt checklists, there are new resources added regularly.
  2. Ichild –  A huge range of resources for all age groups. We previously shared their Handwriting sheets Izzy had been using in our Printable Activities -Fun For Kids post. We love that there is everything on this site including science
  3. Twinkl – Perfect for school work, Twinkl has some great resources that have helped Eva enjoy her work even more. They have some great writing sheets and activities. We recently Printed Mary Anning Page borders for work Eva had been asked to re-write for display.

Colouring Fun

As well as handwriting and math we love to colour and I’ve been printing mindful colouring sheets for the girls. They love a range of characters and we have found several great, free printable sites.

  1. Crayola – Crayola has quite a few colouring pages & activities which I hadn’t realised until recently. They have a great selection of well-loved characters to be printed out and coloured.
  2. Nick Jr – They have some fantastic colouring pages with all the girl’s favourite characters they love printing out Paw Patrol and Shimmer & Shine sheets.
  3. The Purple Pumpkin Blog– I have to admit The Purple Pumpkin Blog has some AMAZING printables which the girls love! Admittedly the purple name did draw me in but the printables are fab and we always have a browse when we need something new.

What sites are your favourite printable resource sites?  Do you use any of these sites too?

Rustic Purple Flower Pen From Rustic By Marney

I received a Rustic Purple Flower Pen from Rustic By Marney for me to review. You may have read Melissa Marney’s guest post I shared yesterday – How Creativity helps me manage my anxiety and depression. Many of us craft as a way to manage our mental health like Melissa does. Crafting is extremely therapeutic and benefits ourselves and often others too with our gorgeous creations.

Rustic Purple Flower Pen From Rustic By Marney

Rustic By Marney

Melissa creates beautiful rustic wedding stationary and gifts for her, hand making each beautiful rustic piece. I enjoy sharing products I love from small businesses where I can, especially when they make stunning products like this. As mentioned in Melissa’s guest post yesterday, she found it difficult to find exactly what she wanted for her own wedding when it came to stationary. She had always put herself down when it came to crafting but Rustic by Marney was born after realising she had a talent.

Rustic by Marney

Rustic Purple Flower Pen

The beautiful rustic purple flower pen I received is gorgeously hand crafted. I love how the pen is gorgeously wrapped and finished with a pretty flower on top. It looks so pretty, both my girls have tried to ‘borrow’ it several times already! I love the shade of purple used giving it that rustic feel.

Rustic By Marney

Rustic Flower Pens come in a range of colours for £6.99. The rustic pens makes a lovely simple gift for her, a treat to brighten up your desk or as wedding stationary. Don’t forget to check out Rustic By Marney over on Facebook & Twitter to get in touch or see her other products. Feel free to send her a message if you have a rustic idea to run by her too, she may just have the perfect idea.

What do you think of these Rustic Flower Pens? Would you like one as a gift or for your wedding stationary? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Mudpie Fridays

Visiting Santa At The Rainforest Café

Visiting Santa at the Rainforest Café was such a lovely, magical experience. Rainforest café invited us to visit Santa’s Grotto with a meal for the girls afterwards in exchange for an honest review.

Visiting Santa at Rainforest Cafe

The rainforest café is close to the Piccadilly circus Tube station which made planning the journey fairly straight forward. We were really excited as my brother was joining us keeping to our Christmas tradition we started a few years ago too.

The Rainforest café grotto experience includes:

  • A personalised invite from Santa Claus
  • A warm welcome from his elves on arrival
  • Enjoy a personalised meeting with Santa Claus in his grotto
  • A Christmas Gift
  • Children’s 2 course meal & soft drink

Traveling To The Rainforest Café

We couldn’t wait to finally visit Rainforest Café after having our original booking moved. Visiting Santa had the girls so excited and we couldn’t wait to get there. I will admit I had a stressful start though, I lost my bank card a week or so ago. Because of this there was an issue transferring money to the Mr’s account. Luckily my brother saved the day and we managed to get on our way but it made me extremely anxious. Going out with very little money is hell! Several lifts were broken at the underground stations which made my travel anxiety worse but somehow we managed the journey with the help of some lovely kind strangers. The girls enjoyed watching performers and passing the Piccadilly Emporium on the way to the Rainforest café.

Piccadilly circus performers

Both performers at Piccadilly Circus

With my chronic pain and my brothers lupus and bad legs we were a little bit of a mess by the time we arrived but the staff were so welcoming which really helped put us at ease.

Talking tree at rainforest cafe

If you have mobility issues the amount of steps at rainforest café will be a challenge. I do suggest talking to the staff before booking as they do have an accessible entrance. I had thought we would be ok but my brother and I struggled slightly. After all the stairs at tube stations it was quite exhausting. Totally my fault and totally worth it even if Tramadol will be keeping me going for the rest of the week haha!

The rainforest cafe

Arriving At The Rainforest Café

We went downstairs to the Mushroom bar which was full of fantastic rainforest effects and animatronics which were absolutely fantastic.

Gorilla in a christmas jumper

We were greeted by the elves at the booking desk who greeted the girls by name once they had our time slot. The girls absolutely loved this, the elves were brilliant and stayed in character the whole time which really added to the experience. We were asked to wait at the bar which has some awesome animal stools to sit on.

Arriving at Santa's Grotto

Visiting Santa At The Rainforest Café

An elf came and took us down another set of stairs after a short wait and asked the girls to find the Christmas trees. When they found the trees she told the girls they had just put the reindeer to bed so they had to be very quiet and tip toe into the grotto. They knocked on the Grotto door and entered a beautifully decorated grotto. Some grottos feel very claustrophobic but Rainforest Café have a large but cosy grotto which was great. Visiting Santa at the Rainforest Café is a fantastic experience.

Talking to Santa

Talking To Santa

Santa chatted away with the girls using the information from our booking sheet I filled out via email. Eva was delighted when Santa mentioned her teacher. He also mentioned a present she wanted and several other personal details. Izzy spent most of the time chatting away and showing Santa she can do the splits and yoga. She asked him lots of questions and really enjoyed herself.

Checking out the Christmas tree

Izzy really loved the Christmas tree and decorations. Santa barely got a word in edgeways with my two chatterboxes, he was fantastic with them though. As you can see they really enjoyed themselves visiting Santa in his cosy grotto.

Posing with Santa

Sticking To Family Traditions

We took a few photo’s of our own and bought a photo of the 4 of us with Santa. This is part of to our Christmas tradition so I was pleased when we were offered a picture of us all. The girls then received a rainforest café tote bag with a gorgeous soft fluffy penguin each. They also received a gorgeous Christmas stories book, certificate and sticker. They absolutely loved their presents and were so happy to be visiting Santa at rainforest café.

The girls, my brother and I with Santa at Rainforest Café

After our grotto visit we were taken to buy our photo which was £10. We were then told to head upstairs to the restaurant where we were shown to a table. The girls received a 2 course meal and drink as part of the Grotto package. Due to my earlier transfer issue I was unable to order anything myself but the girls meals looked lovely.

Kids meals at Rainforest Café

Eating At The Rainforest Café

Eva chose Burger and chips and Izzy had fish cakes and chips. Eva chatted a little too much (every meal!) so her burger went cold but she enjoyed the half she did eat. Izzy demolished her veg and much to my surprise she ate a few chips, they must have been amazing as she is extremely fussy with chips!

Chocolate ice cream and toffeee sauce sundae

They both had a lovely dessert after their meal. Eva had the chocolate ice cream with toffee sauce and Izzy had a lovely bowl of fresh fruit. They both left happy with full tummy’s ready to head home.

Fruit bowl at Rainforest Café

The waitress was fantastic and we didn’t have to wait too long between dishes which was great. The decorations and effects kept the girls amused whilst we waited. Izzy wanted to bring them home.. not sure an elephant that size would fit in the lift though! 

Animaltronics - Moving elephant

An Unexpected Accident

As we were leaving we of course had yet another problem on our part. Eva spilt her juice over her gifts and herself and began panicking. After our awful start I was close to tears myself. I doubted they could help but I somehow braved asking a member of staff if there was any way they could be replaced. Obviously I would have fully understood if they said no. I just couldn’t cope with the thought of a journey home with Eva distraught at rush hour. After such a magical experience I would have felt awful leaving without at least asking. Amazingly the staff managed to find one last penguin and Christmas stories book much to everyone’s relief.

Finally home with their presents

Fantastic Staff

I am eternally grateful to the staff who replaced the items for Eva. I took care of them until we got home to prevent anymore accidents. We managed to dry out the certificate with very little damage once we got home to Eva’s delight. Both girls ended their day with smiles on their faces cuddling their penguins.  They excitedly told the Mr all about the café, animals, elves and Santa when they got home.

Parrot at Rainforest Café

After all our stress it as fantastic to make it to the Rainforest Café to experience their fantastic grotto package. The food and drink are typical London prices. We will definitely go back again with the Mr as the girls really enjoyed the whole experience. I can’t fault Rainforest Café at all, the experience was fantastic. Staff were outstanding and even in our stressed states Alex and I enjoyed ourselves too.

We tucked the girls into bed with their penguins in their arms and huge smiles on their faces. They told us they had the best day ever as we left the room which literally says it all! Visiting Santa at Rainforest Café is a magical experience I would definitely recommend trying once.

Have you visited the Rainforest café before or booked the grotto experience? Would you book this experience?

Tammymum

Alternative Gift Guide For Him

I’ve put together an alternative gift guide with my brother in mind. He is a cat loving, guitar playing, tea addict which makes buying gifts quite fun! Lots of us know a cat lover, a guitar player or a tea addict too so hopefully this little list of alternative gifts will be handy.

Alternative Gift Guide

Both my brother and I have used Mind (a mental health charity) over the years to help us with depression. I discovered some fantastic clothing from In Music We Trust which has some great designs and 50% of profits go to Mind. Alex loves his music and I know he will love this Vintage Tee (£12). IMWT have some awesome beanies (I want one!), vests, hoodies, caps and more.

In Music We Trust Vintage Tee

Being a music lover Alex is forever after memory sticks to store music on. He needs them for coding too which is his latest hobby. Check out this awesome Etch’d 32GB USB stick for £17. You can have any design you want on etched on any of the products at Etch’d. I love how Alex’s name looks and I know he will love it too. There are 3 wood options to pick from – Maple, Rosewood and Dark Walnut. I love the Maple and can’t wait to see what Alex thinks!

 

Every tea addict needs a good mug and all cat lovers will love this one from Tesco for £2/3? I grabbed it whilst we were shopping and of course can’t find the receipt to check.. doh!

Ready for a cat nap mug

Of course if you have a mug you need a coaster and this festive one is adorable! As the cat looks very similar to Mia, Alex’s cat I think he will find this coaster quite cute.

Cat in Santa Hat Coaster

Scope (a disability charity) also have some fab cat gifts in store too, products vary store to store but worth checking if you are shopping for a cat lover too!

A Cat Treat too!

Being a cat lover I couldn’t leave my brothers cat out and I love these fab cat treat cards from Wilko for £2. They have a great selection of pet gifts from treats to toys and all at a very reasonable price.

 

Wilko Merry Meowmas Gift Card

 

Of course when you buy presents you need to find some awesome gift wrap to go with it! I love the Personalised gift wrap from Pretty Gifted, you can add any text and design you like the from the available options. I thought since I was wrapping Alex and Mia’s presents and putting them in the same bag it only made sense to add ‘Merry Christmas Alex & Mia’ with Christmas trees.


What do you think of my alternative gift guide? Do you know a cat loving, guitar playing tea addict too?

 

Stocking Filler Ideas For Girls 2017

Stocking fillers ideas.. a little stuck this Christmas? I’ve been sent some great stocking filler ideas and discovered a few myself too. If you are a little bit stuck for then this list may help! I’ve put together several Christmas gift guides including for 3 years, 7 years, Under £5 & for her which may be helpful too.

Stocking Filler Ideas

I love including a small teddy in Christmas stocking, my girls love the Hallmark itty bittys range which fit perfectly! Hallmark have released new collector editions this Christmas which are lovely!

Itty bitty collectors edition

I am in love with the new Hallmark Minnie and Mickey Mouse Collectors Edition itty bittys and know the girls will love them too! These are £7.94 each on Amazon at the moment.

I spotted this fab Pink Unicorn- Belinda Mini Motsu in Tesco on a 3 for 2 offer. I’m pretty certain it was £4 but can’t find it on their site to confirm. Having searched online I have found it here at Boswell & Co. for £4.99 though!

Unicorn Mini Motsu


As part of the Tesco 3 for 2 offer I picked up these Petkins 2 packs (£2.50) as the girls are still Shopkins crazy! Any addition to their Shopkins collection is always welcome.

 

stocking filler ideas - Petkins

 

Pets are something the girls would love to have again but it is just unfair 11 floors up but I found a solution! I loved Tamagotchi’s as a kid and found these ones in QD for £2.99 and just couldn’t resist. There are various designs but I chose pink for the girls as it is their favourite colours generally.

Cyber pet

Of course every stocking needs to contain at least one pair of socks! Sports direct have some great character ones available like this 3 pack of Frozen ones I found for just £1.50!

What do you think of these stocking filler ideas? Which is your favourite?

Improving Children’s Handwriting Is Still Important

Improving children’s handwriting is still important and something I try to encourage the girls with at home. Handwriting improves concentration and fine motor skills, important for learning other skills. Reading and writing are 2 of the most important aspects of children’s education.

Improving Children's Handwriting

According to the Institute of Education, the quality of handwriting education in primary schools can have a direct impact on success into secondary and higher education. Furthermore, the National Literacy Trust suggests that as many as 25% of UK adults are classed as ‘functionally illiterate’ with many struggling to write a birthday card or a cheque.

Uni-ball are helping to spread awareness of Children’s handwriting and the importance of handwriting in education. They have put together some great resources for parents including these 5 top tips to improve your child’s handwriting.

Improving Children’s Handwriting

Improving Children's Handwriting

Eva struggled a little bit with her pencil control when she started school so we helped find a way to improve her fine motor skills. We used some fantastic pencil grips that made it easier for her and encouraged her to play with play dough, squeezing it to strengthen the muscles in her hands. Uni-ball have some other exercises for stronger hands too.

Uni-ball Exercises for stronger hands

 

Recently we have been improving Eva’s handwriting at home with some handy handwriting work sheets from Uni-Ball. They have created some fantastic printable handwriting sheets to help encourage handwriting at home and school.

 

Uni-ball have printable worksheets and tips for parents:

https://uniball.co.uk/teach-cursive-handwriting-children/

https://uniball.co.uk/handwriting-worksheets-for-children/

https://uniball.co.uk/5-top-tips-improve-handwriting/

 

Improving Children's Handwriting

The handwriting sheets are great for helping children with their handwriting skills from helping with their stability and dexterity. Both girls have been using these printable worksheets for improving children’s handwriting, Izzy recognises most letters and loves practising. Eva is really pleased with herself for improving her handwriting further with these fantastic worksheets. She rushes usually when she write but using these sheets have made her slow down and take care with her handwriting again which is lovely to see.

Improving Children's Handwriting with Uni-Ball

Do you think handwriting is still important too? Do you have any handwriting tips?

 

3 Christmas Books To Snuggle Up With

Little Tiger sent us 3 Christmas Books to snuggle up with as thy are releasing new paperback editions of some of their much-loved Christmas titles. We enjoyed snuggling up on the sofa to read these 3 lovely Christmas books.

3 Christmas Books Perfect For Snuggling Up With

 

One Noisy Night

One Noisy Night

Written by M Christina Butler and Illustrated by Tina Macnaughton this gorgeous touch and feel book is perfect for snuggling up with on a cold wintery night. The gorgeous wintry scenes and soft touch & feel flocking throughout makes it lovely to read keeping your little one involved.

One Noisy Night inside

Little Hedgehog and his friends hear strange creaking sounds coming from the woods giving them a strange puzzle to solve. A wonderful story of friendship & bravery, One Noisy Night is the 10th book of the best-selling Little Hedgehog Series. We love this new release which is available for £6.99 on Amazon. Christmas books like these are lovely to read during the Christmas season and make lovely presents too.

The Perfect Present

Written By Stella J Jones and Illustrated by Caroline Pedler this beautiful Christmas tale is about giving, receiving and friendship. This is such a cosy Christmas story to cuddle up with.

The Perfect Present

Billy and Bella are the best of friends & they would do anything to make each other happy, even if it means giving up something they love. Full of beautifully festive illustrations this lovely Christmas book is a great one to snuggle up with giving you that festive feeling. We love Christmas books like this and think it’s great for £6.99 on Amazon.

 

Santa To The Rescue

Santa To The Rescue

The 3rd book on our list of Christmas books perfect for snuggling up with over Christmas is written by Barry Timms and Illustrated by Ag Jatkowska. This book is a fun and festive picture book with beautiful illustrations.

Santa To The Rescue

Perfect for sharing with little ones excited about Christmas, this story follows the bears of mistletoe mountain on Christmas eve. The bears get snowed in and the animals of Holly tree Forest Work together to help Santa save the day. We find Christmas books like this really get us into the spirit of Christmas. Available for £6.99 on Amazon.

Do you think these 3 Christmas books would be perfect for snuggling up with your little one too over Christmas?

Burnished Chaos

UK Gift Shopping Habits Infographic

With Christmas approaching I’ve been looking at UK gift shopping habits. What2buy4kids has provided a fantastic infographic (below) which shows how much we spend in the UK on gifts, when we buy them and more.  It’s quite interesting learning more about the UK gift shopping habits & reading the facts.

Women spend more money on average than men in the UK gift shopping, with over £100 difference! I guarantee we get more for our money though 😉

Over half of the UK buy gifts 2 months earlier. The majority of Christmas shoppers start in November. I always hope to buy gifts with plenty of time and have managed to over the last 2  years. I find last minute gift buying way to stressful, it gets far too people out there!

Mothers day is the most popular gifting occasion in the UK outside of Christmas and Birthdays whilst gifting new parents is the least popular. For both occasions gifts are usually bought a week before unlike occasions like Christmas and birthdays.

Shockingly UK parents spend the most on toys for their kids beating the USA, France & Germany. I guess we must get a little too excited. Lets face it though there are some awesome toys out there!

What2buy4kids sell some fantastic Birthday and Christmas gifts and created this infographic to show the UK gift shopping habits. I think they have put together some brilliant statistics and interesting facts on our gift shopping habits, what do you think?

UK Gift Shopping Habits

uk gift shopping habits

 

My Sunday Photo – Home-grown Happiness

This week’s #MySundayPhoto – Home-grown Happiness photo’s were taking straight after the girls picked the peppers they have been growing over the last few months. The girls look so happy and proud that they have planted & grown the peppers to perfection. They helped us make a delicious salad dinner with their freshly picked peppers which we all thoroughly enjoyed.

Home-grown happiness

Home-grown Happiness

The girl’s faces in these pictures show how amazed and happy with what they have produced. From a tiny seed and a bit of soil on a tiny windowsill they produced these delicious peppers. The peppers grew to a great size, especially Eva’s.

Eva & Izzy's Peppers

There was even more excitement when we discovered Eva’s big red pepper had another pepper trying too grow inside! It looked so pretty with the red and green together.

Pepper inside a pepper

Do you grow your own fruit or vegetables? Do you get that home-grown happiness when you harvest too?

De-stressing With Thrive: Feel Stress Free

I’ve been de-stressing with the  Thrive : Feel Stress Free  app over the last fortnight. I introduced Thrive here, a fantastic app created for mental health conditions and designed to gradually build resilience to and manage stress, anxiety and mild depression. Using clinically proven techniques such as mindfulness and CBT over a few weeks can have huge benefits.

De-stressing with Thrive: feel stress free

De-stressing with Thrive

Me being me I haven’t managed to religiously use the app. I had hoped to use it much more. The Zen garden and Zen challenge does keep drawing me back in however and I feel it’s been beneficial for me. Most evenings I will sit and design a Zen garden or try one of the challenges. I can feel the stress disappearing as I rake and arrange my pretty little gardens. The challenges are simple, a little bit of thinking involved but it’s very enjoyable. With a star rating you can go back and try to think of better ways to solve the challenges too. It really does help me de-stress.

Zen Garden

Managing Better

Anyone who has seen my tweets this week will no doubt know we have had a stressful month which seems to be continuing. Normally these stresses would have me in tears, feeling helpless and useless.We had our washing machine breakdown the first week back at school. Although we managed to borrow money to replace it only for it 2 breakdown less than 2 weeks later.. with school uniform in.. AGAIN! Using the Zen garden each night seems to be helping me stay calmer. Whilst I am annoyed and frustrated I am managing to keep a hold on my temper and emotions much better. I’m not instantly reacting and being much more mindful.

Using Thrive

As mentioned in my previous post there are subscription costs for thrive, having used the app I feel they are actually very reasonable prices.

The Thrive app is available on all Android and Apple devices. 3 different subscription packages are available.

Monthly –  £5.99

Quarterly – £14.97 for 3months of unlimited access. That’s just £4.99 a month!

Yearly  – £47.88  a year brings the cost down to £3.99 a month.

For my readers however I have a special code to use through October so you can try out Thrive: Feel stress free for yourself and hopefully start de-stressing like I have! Use code FSFOCT300917.