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Sunday, 29 December 2013

Top 5 Posts From 2013

The festive season seams to have flown by (apologies for my lack of posts) and then end of 2013, my first full year of blogging is coming to an end. Its bean a great & busy year, with Daniel turning 3 in May, Joseph starting school in September & then His 5th birthday in November.
Its taken me quite a while to adjust to Joseph being in school, the School runs have taken their tole, with all of us enjoying having a break. And also fitting in crafts & activity's, after school or on ever busy weekends, with both boys being tired nearly all the time.

And so to the 5 most popular posts from the year:

5. Daniels 3rd Birthday - Racing Car Party 

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Daniel loved his party & so did you, with this post (and the other posts relating to it) receiving lots of comments & pin's on pintrest. He is still asking for another racing car party now, although I think I will be taking a break from big parties in 2014 & encouraging days out!

4. Cardboard Box Storage 

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This was a post from January, when I made some under stairs storage out of nappy boxes. Its still going strong, although the cupboard is not quite as tidy now! When I wrote this post i was planning lots of other home/organising posts & so far this is my only one! I do have a couple of others in the pipe line & we are considering a loft conversion in the new year....

3. Top 20 Halloween Messy Play & Craft Ideas..

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Lots of great Halloween ideas, we had lots of fun with these.

2. 20+ Pre-School Christmas Crafts 

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Quite a recent post but very popular & worth pinning for next year. We got chance to do a few but will try tackling a few more next year.

1. Top 20 Halloween Party Food Ideas

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This was by far my most popular post & I was so lucky to get to use many of the ideas for Josephs Birthday party (which I will round up nearer next Halloween). It's definitely one worth pinning for Halloween 2014.

Looking forward to 2014, I'm sure its going to be just as busy but hopefully we will all be able to adjust & adapt to our new schedules, well that is until Daniel also starts school in September. For the blog, I fear it will also need to adjust & adapt, as the boys get older. I do have more competitions and lots more posts lined up for the new year though.

I hope you and your families had a good Christmas & that 2014 is a good year for you.

x Jo x

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Saturday, 21 December 2013

GUEST POST - Another Nordic Thornton Christmas!

Kendra Thornton, mum of 3 (ages 3,5 & 7) from Chicago is joining us to share all about her Christmas...

Another Nordic Thornton Christmas!

The most magical time of the year is upon us again! There’s goodwill and cheer all about. Despite the windy, wintry chill and the snow swirling around, there’s warmth amongst everyone. From family to strangers, there’s a sense of genuineness and generosity that can warm the coldest heart. It’s the holiday season, folks! Now, this is a special time for my Norwegian family because we dive head-on into time-honored traditions of the delicious variety. It’s a feel-good, gourmet extravaganza — and here’s why.

Each year, we gather on Christmas Eve and indulge in tasty revelry by making kringla and lefse together. We also go ‘oyster shooting’, which is our goofy version of taking raw oyster shots until we collapse in fits of gut-busting laughter. Speaking of shots, we don’t let a holiday pass us by without the sweet burn of Akvavit running down our throats and warming up our bellies. is perfect way to send it off! Our Nordic version of “cheers”, we rumble ‘SKOL!’ before downing our Scandinavian nectar.

Now, when it’s time for kid-friendly activities, that’s where the true fun begins. My children adore ice-skating at this time of year. It truly is the perfect holiday activity. We also break out the Christmas tree and literally deck the halls. Making reindeer dust to help Santa’s helpers find their way to us is another tradition I’ll hold on to (as long as the kids will let me)! A little sprinkle here, another sprinkle there, and Rudolph knows exactly where to land! Whipping up a sumptuous Norwegian supper and baking cookies for Santa’s arrival just about round out the yuletide night. Before settling into a sugarplum filled, sweet sleep, we all wind down with a steaming rich cup of hot cocoa.

Despite whatever part of the world my job takes me to, it is pure heaven to come home for Christmas. I read an article on Gogobot’s blog about warm vs. cold Christmas and being with my family in Chicago surrounded by snow is priceless and I wouldn’t trade them for anything! Surrounded by their warmth and love while the gorgeous, pristine winter snow blankets the world in white, just highlights the comforts of our holiday home. Some people dig the heat during the Christmas season, but I’ll take the traditional arctic touch any day. Where would you rather be when the sleigh bells are ringing?

Look, we’re the Thornton’s. If it’s not cold, then it’s not Christmas time! As always, we await a large mass of relatives to descend on our humble home and gather at the family table. And you know what? We can’t wait! Whatever your holiday traditions, however you celebrate, may it be safe, festive and loving. We wish you a wonderful and bountiful yuletide. May greatness greet your household and bring holiday magic to your door!

If you would like to here more from Kendra you can follow her on twitter @KendraThornton

Monday, 16 December 2013

Bottle Top Christmas Tree Art

I must admit to pinching this idea from Josephs(5) school, but it looked like so much fun through the window that Daniel (3.5) wanted a go too, and Joseph was more than happy to make another... Joseph told me at school that they had to stick the bottle tops to the (pre-cut) card in the pattern in the example. Then the next day, once dry, they got to decorate them.  

I'm really struggling to fit in crafts/activities after school, by the time we get home its almost time to cook/eat & then bath & bed. I've found that if I either set up the activity before I pick the boys up or at least have it all gathered & ready the night before (if I'm working) then we can fit it in straight after a snack. 

My Example

So before they got home I sorted through our bottle top collection (i was glad to use some up) for green/red milk bottle tops & some smaller ones in other colours. I did lay out some bottle tops on the card to show them (mainly Daniel) how he could make them look like a tree. 

Josephs Tree
Daniels Tree

I then let them loose with the glue to make their trees however they liked. Joseph really wanted to do the same as he had done in school, Daniel's was much more unique! Once they were happy with their tree shapes we used some of our sequins & Christmas craft stickers to decorate them. They both had lost of in creating this 3D effect tree & I then didn't feel guilty letting them crash in front of cbeebies whilst I cooked tea.

The finished trees...

I also would like to have a go at making a bottle top wreath using a paper plate but don't know if we will get around to it in time to write a blog post as we have still got many of our 20+ Pre-School Christmas Crafts on our to do list....

x Jo x

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Pinecone Crafts

Just outside the leisure centre where we go swimming they have several pine trees & there are always pine cones on the ground, So we end up gaining a few each week, as well as any others that are collected on walks etc. So as we have a huge collection now we decided to use some for our crafts.

We made these cute pine cone owls at Joseph's (Halloween) party, I think all his friends made at least 1 owl each. I cut ovals for the wings out of craft foam, felt & fleece & used craft foam triangles for the beaks. They are super simple just stick on the wings, beak & add some googly eyes. If you anted to hang these up tie some string or wool around the top o the pine cone, yo can then add these cute owls to your Christmas tree.

Whilst Joseph (5) was at school, Daniel (3.5) wanted to do some painting so I got out our remaining collection of pine cones & asked him to paint them to look like it had snowed. We used a mixture of white poster paint & silver glitter paint. 

 Daniel had great fun painting the pine cones (& his fingers) once done we laid them out on an old plastic bag to dry. In the past we have left them on newspaper & it has all stuck & ruined our work, using the plastic means that they just peel off. 

They looked really effective, but once dry the paint went a little grey, so next time I would use acrylic or even emulsion (if I was doing it myself). They look really great in a clear vase & I think I will hang some of them on our tree this year.

x Jo x

P.s  If you are looking for other Christmas ideas take a look at my 20+ Pre-School Christmas Crafts post or my Christmas & Winter Pintrest board.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Hiding The Presents

Xmas 2011

As the boys are getting older (5 & 3.5) I'm now having to start thinking more about hiding places for Christmas presents. I always seam to have boxes around with one thing or another in, waiting to be sorted, sold or put in the loft etc so I have in the past got away with presents in sealed boxes, but I'm guessing that won't be good enough soon so this year I have hidden them at the back of my wardrobe, behind the clothes. This is where I also keep my 'gift' bag which is full of Birthday gifts for friends, as I can never find good value items when we need them. Neither of the boys are allowed in our wardrobe, mainly because it has big sliding mirror doors & I have always been worried that for some reason the doors might come off the runners & land or smash on to them. Although a 2.5 year old Joseph did convince my Mum to open it once & they came downstairs with a brand new jigsaw from my present stash! I also keep Josephs favourite soft toy 'Ellie' the elephant's twin in there in the pillowcase that its washed & dried inside!

Xmas 2012

When I was younger I didn't find many of my Mums hiding places, but have since discovered that as well as the traditional on top of the wardrobe she also removed the bottom draw & kept smaller presents in the base. I do remember that presents were kept under the tree well before Christmas & I do remember carefully unwrapping a corner of one just to check that they had got what I'd asked for!

I'm definitely going to have to up my game in the coming years! Where do you hid yours?

x Jo x

“This post is an entry into the Hudl Christmas cheer competition”

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Christmas in a day....

I've just watched the Sainsbury's Christmas in a day film on you tube. I loved it! It was great to see how everyone else celebrates Christmas, as I have only ever spent it with either my family or my husbands. My favourite part by far was the Barbie grave yard....

Have you watched it yet? What was your best bit?

x Jo x

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Zoo Small World - In a Cardboard Box

A couple of weeks ago our oven decided to break & keep tripping our electric. We ended up having McDonald's for tea that night & I started to panic about how i was going to cook the cakes & food for Joseph's party!
After a quote of at least £100 to fix it & with it being about 6-7 years old we opted to replace it. I can recommend for a very quick service ordering on the Saturday & having it delivered on the Sunday for only £9.99 extra! 
Anyway getting to the point... the oven came packed with a box top & bottom. One of which was got ripped when we opened it, but the other one was perfect. So I asked Daddy to keep it, que rolling of eyes & 'what do you wan that for'. He is of the opinion that my box & other junk collecting is getting out of hand! So  knew that I needed to use this one ASAP!

Daniel (3.5) & I decided that it would make a good Zoo, as we haven't had our animals out for a while now. Daniel decided that the water animals needed a pond in the middle & then we discussed what other animals would like to live together. I quickly drew the layout with a black permanent marker & used a green & blue to quickly colour it in. We then decided that it needed a entrance door so that people can visit. 

I've discovered that using a pumpkin carving knife like a saw works really well on cardboard & as ours isn't sharp I don't need to worry so much about doing it while the boys are around. It does however make more of a mess than scissors but is so much easier. 

Both boys have had lots of fun playing with this, though after being on the floor for a while its starting to get a bit battered. So it may well be in the recycle box this week, much to my husbands delight!

x Jo x

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Marble Run Fun

Apologies for the lack of posts recently I've been so busy with 1/2 term & Josephs Birthday. He had a great Halloween party which I will post about soon. So I thought I would share this post that has been waiting in the wings for a while!

We picked up this fab ELC marble run at the car boot back in the spring. I'm really trying to encourage more open ended toys & this one is great I'm sure it will be used for many years to come. Both boys love building the towers & then testing them with the marbles. It really is a great toy for problem solving skills, trying to work out where the marble will go & what to change to make it go where they want. It's also great for fine motor skills when putting it together.

Daddy had lots of fun helping the boys build a really tall tower.

In the summer we even took it out-side to see how it would work with water. It kind of worked but only if you pour a small amount of water, pour to fast it it all spills over! It was still lots of fun though! We didn't use the light up battery section with water.

They are still enjoying this almost 6 months on, with it being brought out about once a week.

x Jo x

If you would like to buy your own marble run (it would make a great Christmas gift) Here are a few Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.

Early Learning Centre - Marble Madness Game -Almost the same as ours
Galt Super Marble Run- looks like a good set & Galt are normally good quality
Toyrific Marble Run Game -Looks like much better value, but reviews suggest that its smaller & won't work with normal marbles