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My Goals for 2020

My Goals for 2020 – What I hope to achieve in 2020

I wasn’t going to start the year by setting any New Year’s Resolutions or Goals for 2020 as it always seems to set me up for failure. Putting them out there adds huge pressure, the procrastination sets in and nothing gets done so I’m going to keep these quite broad and non-specific.

My Goals for 2020

Saying No!

This might seem a simple thing to do, but it’s not in many situations. Saying No and sticking to it is something that I’ve tried to do since Freddie was born. I tend to go along with what other people want to do even if it really puts me out but not anymore. Freddie’s not the best sleeper so nap time is precious for him and the rest of us. There’s nothing worse than a grumpy overtired baby. This in turn dictates the timings that we do things which doesn’t seem to sit well with friends and family who want to visit. I tend to avoid having visitors until after lunch so that I don’t have to offer lunch which just adds another layer of stress.

I should at this point mention that Freddie takes his naps on me so I either grab an early/late lunch or something very simple. I’m hoping this will change and nap times he will go to bed, but for now this is what we’re doing. This is just one example, but given that I do the lions share of looking after the kids I sometimes need to say ‘No’ without explanation.

Organisation

We have limited space at the moment so getting organised and decluttering is high priority at the moment. This is everything from sorting through our wardrobes to nifty kitchen storage ideas. Of course we’ll need to deal with the toy explosion of Christmas as well. We’ve already sorted through Freddie’s toys, but Isabelle is attached to every single toy including never played with Happy Meal toys that the mere mention of them going promotes them to her favourite thing in the world. I’m going to tackle this in bite sized bits so it could take me the best part of 2020!

Same for my blogging/freelance work. Planning, organising and getting ahead of myself with tasks is the way to go. I got a Clever Fox Planner for Christmas to keep me on track which I can’t wait to get started with.

Meal Planning

This sits very nicely between organisation and money saving since it will be both. Chris used to do the bulk of the cooking but not for a while now. I like cooking but often feel uninspired by what we have and end up cooking samesy meals week in and out and making multiple trips to our local Tesco Express for additional bits and bobs.

We did a few weeks of half heartedly meal planning and it was so much nicer knowing what I had to cook. I hate the daily decision making, so this is something that I’m going to start doing starting in January.

Saving Money

A bit of a no-brainer but we need to get a grip of our outgoings and save money where and when we can. As well as needing a bigger house we have a 21st birthday coming up in April.

I’ve seen a couple of Apps that automatically skims money from your account when you buy something by rounding it up to the nearest pound. This is quite appealing since you don’t notice it so much.

I’m also going to get one of those money tins that you need to open with a tin opener and give the 365 day penny challenge another go (I have a free downloadable sheet if you fancy closing it with me).

Making the most of Family Time

The last couple of years have been a bit rough and we haven’t had much time together. This year we’re going to plan our time off and the school holidays so that we can do lots of fun stuff, as well as having some downtime.

Getting my Driving License

Now feels like the right time and I can’t and don’t want to put it off any longer. I want to be able to pick Isabelle up from school and drive to the beach or a local park. I want to be able to go out without having to add on so much time to allow for buses or trains.

There’s no doubt that I’m going to be a nervous driver. The roads are full of total road raging lunatics, but it’s time now.

That’s it!

My goals for 2020 could go on forever but like I said, I don’t want to set myself up for a fall.

What are your plans for this year?

Lisa x

Turkey Cacciatore

Use up your leftover Turkey to make this simple pasta dish

Hands up if you’re craving a ‘normal’ meal after the Christmas binge. I love turkey and all the trimmings as well as all the cheeses, crackers and stuffing but there has to come a point where normality makes an appearance. This is a great way to use up that last bit of turkey in a non-Christmassy way.

Turkey Cacciatore

  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 3 x 400g Tinned Chopped Tomatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • A splash of Red Wine Vinegar
  • Around 500g Leftover Turkey cut into chunks
  • 2 Balls of fresh mozzarella
  • A handful of breadcrumbs

How To

Chop the onion and garlic and fry in the olive oil until the onion is softened.

Add the tomatoes, sugar, vinegar and oregano. Season and then simmer for around 20 minutes until the tomatoes thicken.

In an ovenproof dish, add the turkey and pour over the tomato sauce. Shred the mozzarella over the top and pour over the handful of breadcrumbs.

Put in the oven for around 20 mins on 200 degrees until the cheese is gooey and golden.

Serve with either pasta or jacket potato.

Easy Breadcrumbs

An easy way to make breadcrumbs is to toast a couple of slices of bread. Rub over a garlic clove and drizzle with olive oil before putting in the oven for around 15 mins. This should be easily crumbled with your hands or add to a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin.

Enjoy x

Handmade Chocolate Treats

Scrummy Easy to Make Handmade Chocolate Treats

Isabelle loves to get a bit crafty and Christmas gives you the perfect excuse. Both of these are really easy to make and can be done with the kids. 

Chocolate Orange Christmas Puddings

I pinched this idea off a work colleague as I thought they looked really great and who doesn’t like a Chocolate Orange.

Here’s what you need:

  • Chocolate Oranges (as many for the number of people you want to make for)
  • A big bar of white chocolate for the topping. Again the amount will depend on how many you are making. We made 5 and used a large bar of milky bar
  • Either ready made holly cake toppers or red and green icing to make your own.
  • Cellophane wrapping/bags to put them in
  • Ribbon for tying

We unwrapped the chocolate oranges and put them in a bun tin so that they didn’t roll away.

If making the holly and berry toppers yourself, cut these out and set to the side for later.

Melt the white chocolate and put a spoonful on the top of the chocolate orange allowing it to drip down the sides.

Add the holly and berry toppers and put into the fridge until set.

Wrap in cellophane and tie with ribbon.

Perfect and simple to make.

Christmas Chocolate Block

I’ve seen these many times on pinterest so we decided to make our own version.

What you will need:

  • A square shaped tin lined with greaseproof paper. We lined ours with foil as we found the empty greaseproof paper box in the cupboard.
  • Lots and lots of chocolate – We opted for three large sized bars of Galaxy, one had rice crispy bits in and the two other were milk chocolate.
  • White chocolate for a bit of swirling on the top
  • Toppings – We opted for Cadbury’s Snow Balls, Maltezers reindeers, sprinkles, silver balls, pink sugar crystals and red edible flakey glittery type cake toppings

Melt the milk chocolate and pot into the tin making sure that it covers the bottom.

We then melted the white chocolate chocolate and swirled it through the milk chocolate.

Bash up the Chocolate snowballs and sprinkly willy nilly on top.

All other toppings just get added to the top – perfect for the kids to do.

Pop into the fridge and wait to set.

Once set you can break into pieces and add to a cellophane bag as a lovely chocolate gift, or you could do what we did and sit in front of the telly and scoff the lot!

Enjoy x

18 Month Baby Update – He’s a Toddler!

No longer a Baby – He’s a Toddler!

New Things

Singing – Freddie is really enjoying music and loves to sing along to a few in his own way including Row Row your Boat, Twinkle Twinkle and Baby Shark. It’s so adorable.

What! His new favourite word. It’s so true that you really should watch what you say. I know ‘what’ isn’t a swear word but when you call your 18 month old and he shouts ‘what’ back at you it makes you think of the things that you constantly say.

He also repeats words that you say but not with the word but the sound of it and babbles a lot, and says hmmmm mmm quite a lot instead is saying yes. Funny boy!

Head butting the floor in temper – he’s already getting quite frustrated, usually when the word ‘No’ is used. He gets down on all fours and smacks his head on the floor usually about four or five times, and he hurts himself. I hate it! I try not to make too much of it but I tend to pick him up without saying anything and cuddle him until he stops trying to squirm away. Chris thinks I should leave him and tell him off, but I can’t not do anything when he’s hurting himself.

Kindness – he’s already showing such lovely kindness to others. When his nephew comes over and it’s snack time, Freddie likes to take one for both of them and make sure that Luka gets one too. It’s so lovely to see him being so sweet.

Play

With Christmas coming I’ve just sorted his toys out and taken out all of the rattles and baby toys that he no longer uses which I’ll take to the charity shop this week.

His most played with toys are his mega blocks, stickle bricks and the kitchen, and a set of magnetic cars that my mum found in a charity shop.

He’s not so keen on sharing at the moment and gets quite territorial with his toys, but not at toddler group so we need to practice a bit of sharing with him at home.

Growth

I think he’s had a bit of a growth spurt since a few more of his clothes have started to look a bit small on him. It’s not otherwise noticeable but I guess that I wouldn’t notice it as much as other people.

We’ve just started to buy some 18 – 24 months clothes but they’re a little bit big at the moment.

Food

Freddie eats the same meals as us which is a lot easier than having to make separate meals. He’s not overly keen on meat on its own but in dishes such as pasta he eats it.

He loves all vegetables and fruit so we’re not pushed for options.

Lunchtimes he likes lots of bits and bobs such as cubes of cheese, crackers, tomatoes, cucumber, hummus etc so it’s really easy to make him up a plate of food.

Feeding

Freddie is still breastfeeding a lot which I’m quite happy with and he loves it. I thought he would feed a lot less at his age but he still wants to feed around three times during the day and three plus times a night as well.

I did think I would have stopped expressing milk whilst I’m at work but it’s too uncomfortable not to which is a bit of a pain but hey ho.

Sleeping

We’re still co-sleeping and he’s still feeding a few times during the night. It’s not as bad as it sounds but it would be nice to reclaim my evenings without a baby attached to me.

Having said that, I love having that little boy snuggled into me at night and will be sad when he’s in his own bed.

The mornings are my favourite when he wakes up with his bed head, curls all sticking up every which way and the biggest grin on his face to see us.

The end of the Baby Updates

I feel sad that my baby is no longer a baby but a scrummy little toddler. Instead of doing baby update I think I’ll just do Monthly Family Updates starting in January.

Christmas is going to be amazingly crazy but fun. I’ll let you know how many times we pick the tree up off the floor or, more likely off of Freddie……..

Easy to make Christmas Tree Bunting

Easy to Make Christmas Tree Bunting

Today we’ve made Christmas Tree Bunting for you.

What you will need:

  • A5 Green Card
  • Scissors
  • Christmas themed stickers
  • String
  • Glitter glue

We used A5 coloured card (A4 folded in half) and folded the card in half. We drew half a Christmas Tree with the plant pot base and cut this out so that the tree was symmetrical on both sides.

Christmas tree bunting template
Christmas Tree Bunting Template

We then cut these out. Make as many as you like depending on the space you have to string up the bunting.

Then the fun begins. I let my three year old daughter loose with a selection of Christmas stickers, cut-outs and glitter glue. You could of course be more extravagant and use any crafty bits that you have available.

"Decorated

Once complete and dried we hole punched the tops of the trees and hung them up with string. I think they look quite effective and Isabelle was thrilled.

The decorated Christmas Tree Bunting is ready for hanging up
Gorgeously Decorated Bunting with stickers

Have a go yourselves and don’t forget to post a pic of any creations on our Facebook Page or email them to mail@babynotincluded.co.uk  and we will add them.

"Handmade

If you’re feeling extra crafty then why not give making Handmade Christmas Wrapping Paper or make Christmas Tree Shaped Pizzas.

 

Easy to make Christmas Tree Bunting

Review: Mardles HugARmals Dragon

Getting to know the Mardles HugARmals Dragon

Isabelle is obsessed with soft toys and has quite a hefty collection of them that she’s collected over the years. Her favourite game is to set them all out in rows on her bedroom floor to play schools so this beautifully coloured Dragon was welcomed with very open arms and a huge grin!

Mardles HugARmals Dragon the interactive cuddly friend that your kids will love to play with

It’s not just a Soft Toy

This lovely soft HugARmals Dragon is a red/pink colour with rainbow coloured scales. Bring her to life with the FREE Mardles App which can be downloaded for Apple or Android. It stands at 30cm retails for £24.99 available online and in toy shops.

The app is activated by scanning the fire button on its foot.

Mardles HugARmals Dragon the interactive cuddly friend that your kids will love to play with

What can the HugARmals Dragon do?

Once you’ve activated the App you can meet your new friend, take pictures, give her something to eat, watch her fly and do an awesome dance routine. All of this can be captured on the App using the photo mode.

Mardles HugARmals Dragon the interactive cuddly friend that your kids will love to play with
Mardles HugARmals Dragon the interactive cuddly friend that your kids will love to play with
Mardles HugARmals Dragon the interactive cuddly friend that your kids will love to play with

After all of this fun you can tuck your dragon into bed with you before starting all over again.

Mardles HugARmals Dragon the interactive cuddly friend that your kids will love to play with
Mardles HugARmals Dragon the interactive cuddly friend that your kids will love to play with

Our Thoughts

Isabelle loves the Dragon and it’s taken pride of place in her bed so the additional features using the App are a welcome excuse for her to dance around and have photographs taken of her. It’s a shame that the App isn’t compatible with her tablet but it’s not the end of the world. 

Freddie is also quite taken with the Dragon and gets a sneaky play with it when Isabelle’s at school. He likes to see it on my phone doing some dancing and putting the dragon next to his toys, but gets a bit confused that it’s not really there. 

This toy would make a lovely Christmas gift and gets a big thumbs up from us. 

Mardles HugARmals Dragon the interactive cuddly friend that your kids will love to play with

*we were gifted a Mardles HugARmals Dragon for the purpose of this review all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Review: Chalkola Marker Pens

Getting Creative with Chalkola Marker Pens

Following on from our previous review of Chalkola Marker Pens we were sent a new Bumper Set which includes some pretty funky colours such as AstroTurf Green and Pink Lemonade, and we weren’t disappointed.

What can you use Chalkola Markers for?

Chalkola Marker Pens can be used in loads of different ways. Pubs and Restaurants can use them to create stunning Specials Boards, and there are loads of ways for you to use them at home.

The Chalkola markers are so easy to use. Activate the nibs by giving the pen a shake and pressing down so that the colour comes through. The colours are so vibrant and fluid so you can get really creative.

What can you use Chalkola Markers on?

As well as being able to use the markers on a blackboard they can be used on glass, whiteboards or any other non-porous surface.

They’re easy to remove using a wet cloth or even a wetwipe ready to use again.

We were sent the pack of 30 which has some amazingly named colours such as Beetle Bug Green, Lake Green and Pink Lemonade.

We used the markers to create a Trick or Treat sign for Halloween which I thought was quite effective with our bowl of sweets, and Isabelle likes to create different designs and display the chalkboard in her bedroom.

We also used the markers to decorate Freddie’s mini pumpkin which looked amazing.

Other ways you could use the makers would be for writing up meal plans, shopping lists or messages.

The markers are both child safe and odour free. The dustless, non toxic formula is both eco-friendly and safe for use at home. There are different tips available depending what you want to use them for.

There are a range of different pack sizes and colour options. We used the 30 pack which were a mixture of classic and neon colours, retailing at £22.95.

Our Thoughts

We were already fans of the Chalkola markers as they can be used in so many ways. They last a long time which is great to know as a parent. Isabelle isn’t the best at putting the lids back on pens, and thankfully these don’t dry up which is also plus point.

Isabelle uses these for playing teachers with her dolls and teddies and is very happy using these. They wash off really easily and we’ve had no problem with the markers staining clothing or carpets.

The Chalkola Marker Pens get a huge thumbs up from us.

*we were sent a set of Chalkola Marker Pens for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Fantastic Christmas Advent Calendars

Some of the Best Christmas Advent Calendars

Advent Calendars have become a huge thing with some of them costing as much as you would spend on a main present.

When I was a kid we had chocolate calendars as well as ones with just pictures behind each door. Now you can get calendars with chocolates, toys, stationery and even cheese!

Whatever’s your thing, I bet there’s a calendar. Here are some fab ones that I’ve found.

Craft Beer Advent Calendar

Craft Beer Advent Calendar – This one comes with 24 different types of beer (bottles and cans). I’m pretty sure that this would put a smile on Chris’ face.

Playmobil Santa’s Workshop

Playmobil Santa’s Workshop – This is the calendar that Isabelle’s hoping to get. Each day in the lead up to Christmas you get a piece to make your own scene including Elves and toys.

Snaffling Pig Pork Scratchings Calendar

Snaffling Pig Pork Scratchings Calendar – So I might have a bit of a secret like of pork scratchings and this just cracked me up as it’s so random. This one contains 24 bags of pork scratchings in 6 different flavours.

The Sparkling Fizz Advent Calendar

The Sparkling Fizz Advent Calendar – 25 mini bottles of Fizz would go down very nicely. It’s a bit pricey but what a nice treat.

Barbie Calendar

Barbie Calendar – Isabelle had this one last year and loved it. You get the doll in door number one and accessories such as shoes and clothes in the rest.

Thomas Mini’s Calendar

Thomas Mini’s Calendar – This calendar includes 24 mini engines each its own design.

24 Days of Stationery

Martha Brook 24 Days of Stationery Advent Calendar – For fellow stationery lovers this might just make you squeal with delight. Not only does this look beautiful but each of the 24 embossed envelopes contain a gorgeous stationery treat such as notecards, a letter opener and a pen.

Do you buy calendars? Make your own or have you found an amazing one that you would recommend? Leave us a comment with your recommendations.

*This post contains some affiliate links which means that I receive a small referral fee at no extra cost to you if you click on a link and make a purchase

Christmas Stocking Fillers Ideas

Great ideas for Christmas Stocking Fillers

Opening our Christmas Stockings is our favourite part of Christmas Day. We all pile onto our bed and the kids get stuck in before the chaos of the day begins. We try really hard to make these as fun as possible with a mixture of silly gifts and novelty sweets.

Father Christmas leaves our stockings so we usually wrap these in a separate wrapping paper different to any others. Our stockings are left on the bedroom door handles (Ryan was terrified of Father Christmas going into his room) and we’ve stuck with this.

Here are some fun things we found for all ages, but we’d love to know what you fill your stocking with.

Bluerock Bamboo Toothbrushes

Bluerock Bamboo Toothbrushes – Making sustainable choices seems to be at the forefront of peoples minds when gift buying this year, and hopefully from now on. Bluerock Toothbrush handles are made from bamboo (biodegradable) with nylon bristles (recyclable) making then the perfect choice. Subscriptions or one-off purchases are available on site with a variety of colours. My kids (all three) have always had a bit of a thing for toothbrushes so a toothbrush in their stocking would give them a bit of a chuckle. Get 15% Off and multiple toothbrush pack or your first subscription delivery – Just add code XMAS15.

Plop Trumps

Plop Trumps – Yes, it’s a game with all different types of pooh. This will definitely get all the family laughing around the table.

Wooden Wiggly Worm

Wooden Wiggly Worm – This would be great for younger hands to keep them busy.

Farm Animal Meshables

Farm Animal Meshables – Isabelle loves these. You just squeeze them and the squishy bits squish through the mesh. They’re a bit like a stress ball which could be useful over Christmas.

Would You Rather Book

Would You Rather Book – Do you play this game with your kids? Isabelle loves it. So if not, it goes like this – ‘Would you rather have a banana leg or a melon head?’. It’s so much more fun than I Spy and this book will give you loads of great ideas.

Slime Play Oozy Red

Slime Play Oozy Red – There’s no getting away from slime in our house. Isabelle loves it and to be fair she will sit and play with it for ages. This kit comes with a sachet that you add water to and watch it transform into slime.

Do Not Disturb I’m Gaming Socks

Do Not Disturb I’m Gaming Socks – These would be perfect for the teenager or even man in your life!

What do you put in your kids Christmas Stocking? Leave us a comment x

Christmas stocking filler ideas for all ages that will put a smile on their faces on christmas morning

*This post contains some affiliate links which means that I receive a small referral fee at no extra cost to you if you click on a link and make a purchase

Christmas Gift Guide for Teenagers

Christmas Gift Guide for Teenagers

I think this is the hardest age group to buy actual gifts for. Most teenagers are quite specific about their style and grown-up just don’t ‘get it’ (like we were never teenagers ourselves).

It was always a safe bet to buy the latest technology or trainers for Ryan when he hit the teenage years or the latest game for either the Playstation or Xbox. Money is always an option but not much to open on Christmas Day. We did once buy loads of Lynx sprays and other bits and pieces and wrapped a £5 note so that he still had lots of gifts to open, but also had the money that he wanted to go and do some shopping himself.

Here are a few things that caught my eye that I think even a teenager would find hard to stick their noses up at.

Instax Mini LiPlay

Instax Mini LiPlay – This stylish black and rose gold camera can be used to take photographs that can be printed straight away. You can also transfer and print photos from your phone. You can have a lot of fun with one of these.

Bumper Retro Sweet Box

Bumper Retro Sweet Box – You can’t really go wrong with teenagers and snacks, especially the sweet variety. Show them all the sweets of your childhood with drumstick lollies, refreshers and sherbert fountains. Yum!

Suck UK Laundry Punching Bag

Suck UK Punching Bag Laundry Bag – If like most teenagers they have a floor-drobe then this might be the solution they need to keep their room tidy. If this fails then just shut the door!

5 Second Rule Game

5 Second Rule Game – This is such a fun game. It does say from age 10 but Isabelle (age 9) has been joining in just fine. Win the game by completing your 5 second rule tasks such as name 3 things beginning with S or name 3 things that have a zip. You literally have 5 seconds to answer. It’s harder than you think for some of them.

Bose Soundlink Colour Bluetooth Speaker

Bose Soundlink Colour Bluetooth Speaker – Just so they can drown out the rest of the world! I love this colour.

Real Techniques Deluxe Make-up Brush Set

Real Techniques Deluxe Make-up Brush Set – I’m dreading the teenage years with Isabelle when make-up plays a daily role and not just anything will do. This brush set is a great starter set and looks gorgeous as well.

Feel free to share any suggestions or wants from your Teenagers.

Lisa x

A Christmas `gift Guide for Teenagers. I think we've cracked it with this list of gifts that not even a teenagers could stick their nose up to

*This post contains some affiliate links which means that I receive a small referral fee at no extra cost to you if you click on a link and make a purchase