What’s On This Christmas

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There is nothing I like more than getting out with the kids at any time and it’s even more special when it’s at Christmas. Therefore I’d like to share with you some fantastic events that are on this Christmas in Birmingham.

Dr Bunhead’s Very Dangerous Christmas is on at Birmingham Town Hall from 22nd December to 5th January. Take your budding scientists to find out what is the worlds loudest Christmas Cracker, and I’m sure they’ll be dying to know if Dr Bunhead can set his head on fire like a Christmas pudding!

If Dr Bunhead is a little too explosive for you, how about a lovely performance of What the Ladybird Heard, based on the award winning book by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks. On at Birmingham Town Hall from 20th December to January 10th. This is suitable from children aged 2 upwards and I’m sure all children will love it, we thoroughly enjoyed the last Julia Donaldson show we went to at the Town Hall, Room On The Broom.

Town Hall are also putting on their first ever relaxed performance of What the Ladybird Heard which is perfect for children who have autism and learning difficulties and may find it difficult to sit through regular performances.

At the Birmingham Symphony Hall you can catch Jingle Bell Christmas on Friday 20th December.  You can enjoy Christmas music such as Jingle Bell Rock and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by the London Concert Orchestra and dancing by The Jingle Belle Dancers.

Then on Monday 23rd December you can enjoy the Christmas Carol Singalong, where Jonathon Cohen will be leading you through his most loved carols and Christmas songs.

I was offered the opportunity to see Dr Bunheads Very Dangerous Christmas preview but was unable to attend because Star was still in hospital. However, I decided to share these wonderful performances with you anyway. Merry Christmas. 

Twelve Things That Make My Christmas!

On the first day of Christmas….I love looking out for Christmas lights, small or big I love how everything lights up at Christmas time. Christmas trees sparkling in windows, huge light displays along shopping precincts. I don’t do it myself but I love seeing houses that have gone over the top with lights everywhere. In my own home I am a little more conservative but I love having a twinkly tree. I adore fairy lights and have them all year around in the bedrooms, but Christmas lights are the best and a sure way of getting me in the mood for Christmas.

On the Second day of Christmas….we have the Christmas Markets. I live in a big city and each year there is a big market from Frankfurt, Germany. Adorable wooden huts adorn the city centre streets and the German visitors sell their wares. We also have an adjoining craft fair of wonderful hand made items. Best of all is the lovely food available, I cannot resist a Bratwurst sausage and a cup of Gluwhien but my all time favourite is the gorgeous Schokukuss, chocolate kisses.

On the third day of Christmas…..it’s time for Christmas shopping. Now, I admit it’s no fun with kids in tow, a ton of things to buy and crowds of people trying to do the same. However, give me an afternoon on my own, a small list of special people to buy for and plenty of money and I’ll happily join the crowds and queues. There is nothing that makes you feel in the Christmas spirit than arriving home after a busy shop laden with presents.

On the fourth day of Christmas…. let’s put up the Christmas tree. I always put mine up the first week in December. It’s my birthday the last week in November so it just doesn’t feel right putting it up before, but really I can’t wait. I love bringing out the tree (not real for me, too much mess and the cats would destroy it) and getting the kids to help decorate it. We always put some Christmas music on in the background to get us in the mood. I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to the tree, we fill it with all sorts, home made decorations, glittery baubles of different colours, and special ornaments we have collected over the years, including some lovely white snowmen my mum bought me just before she passed away. On top we always have a golden fairy.

On the fifth day of Christmas….I will write my Christmas cards. This usually consists of a couple of hours helping the littlies to write cards to their school friends, and ten minutes of writing my own. It makes you think of all the people you rarely see and wonder if they will turn up this year. Christmas is a time of thinking of other’s and this is what you do when you write them a card.

On the Sixth day of Christmas… The Christmas cake will be decorated. Now, I love my traditional Christmas cake and it will be baked sometime in November. Each week I’ll bring it out of its air tight tin and greasproof paper wrapping and ‘feed’ it a tablespoon of brandy. This is definitely not a cake for the littlies. I love decorating cakes and long to decorate my Christmas cake traditionally with royal icing and little plastic figures, just like my mum used to make. However, I don’t really like royal icing, I much prefer fondant icing, but I do still use marzipan. You really feel like Christmas is on the way when the cake is finally decorated.

On the Seventh day of Christmas…. the Christmas spirit arrives by my nose. The smell of mince pies baking, or sherry trifle. Oranges and cloves as we get ready for Kristingle. Apple, cinnamon, gingerbread and peppermint candy canes. Not forgetting the smell of pine trees. Very soon it will be time for the smell of roast turkey and Christmas pudding…..mmmmmmmm

On the eight day of Christmas….. We attend the School Nativity. There is nothing that says Christmas more than watching your children and all their school friends re-enact the Christmas story. These days a lot of schools veer away from the nativity and have other musical shows instead, but for me, Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus and I’m quite happy for my children to share the wonderful story of his birth.

On the ninth day of Christmas….we watch Christmas movies. There is nothing like cuddling up on the settee on a cold winters day with the Christmas tree lights twinkling and watching a good Christmas movie. There are so many to choose from, The Polar Express, Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, Scrooged everyone has a favourite.

On the tenth day of Christmas….Oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is, it’s time for a pantomine. Such a wonderful, fun Christmas tradition watching a familiar story brought to life on the stage with larger than life character and heaps of laughs. It really is time for Christmas when the pantomines arrive.

On the eleventh day of Christmas… we visit Father Christmas, ok the littlies know he’s not the real Santa, just one of his helpers. How lovely to see their little faces light up as they meet the special man and tell him what they want him to bring them for Christmas, while I have my fingers tightly crossed that they say something that I’ve already bought for them.

On the Twelfth day of Christmas…we follow Norad Tracks Santa and wait for the big man to arrive. There is nothing more exciting on Christmas Eve than seeing where Santa has been already and watching him travel all over the world. Then it’s time for bed as we anxiously await his arrival to our house with all our lovely gifts. Merry Christmas!

This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 December challenge. If I’m chosen, I would like to visit Sherwood Forest.

The tip that inspired me the most was :
4. Meeting the man himself – what better way for you to get in the Christmas mood than by visiting Santa and his little helpers in Santa’s Woodland Workshop?

The Evolution of Energy

It’s Christmas time and although your usage of energy in your home is usually the last thing you are thinking about, it really does help to be aware. Check out how Christmas can hit your energy bills  and find some useful tips regarding your Christmas lights, Christmas cooking, entertainment and heating.

Did you know that in the past 40 years, the amount of energy we consume by household has risen by nearly 20%?  No surprise really,  given the needs of the workforce to be ‘always on’ and the emergence of a generation of habitual internet users.  As a result, our consumption habits have forced society and businesses to innovate new ways to control the increased demands… and the results are astounding. What will they think of next!?

The Evolution of Energy Consumption Through the Decades
Be smarter with your consumption and choose the right energy tariff

Post produced in association with Ovo Energy.

Warming Up Drinks

At the end of a cold winters day there is nothing nicer than curling up with a nice warming drink. Here are a few of my favourites. 
Nutella Hot Chocolate.
Now this one is so simple, almost as simple as making your chocolate from a sachet, but it’s a good one to star with especially if you like a nutty flavour, or are simply a Nutella addict.
Take a saucepan and put a mug of milk on to heat.
When it’s warm add two heaped teaspoons of Nutella, or you can add more if you wish.
Stir until almost boiling, pour back into your mug and enjoy.
Do you love Nutella? Here are 50 more recipes you may enjoy.
Baileys Hot Chocolate.
If you fancy something with a bit of an alcoholic boost then this one is definitely a firm favourite.
Put 300ml of milk into a saucepan and add 1 tsp of hot chocolate powder.
Warm through stirring all the time, keep on medium heat until hot but not boiling.
Pour 50ml of Baileys into a mug or heatproof glass.
Add the hot milk and stir.
Top with chocolate flakes or whipped cream.

Find more recipes to make with Baileys
Hot Vanilla Milk

This is perfect as a bedtime drink. 
Warm a cup of milk in a pan on the stove.
Add 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
Add sugar to taste
Sleep tight.
Winter Lemonade

Have a nasty cold, or just need warming up, you will love this.
Slice a fresh lemon and put them in a pan with a cupful of water.
Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Pour carefully into a cup leaving the lemon slices behind.
Add a spoonful of honey.
If you like it sprinkle with cinnamon or ginger.
Leave the lemons in the pan as they will be good for another cup later.
Produced in association with Inghams, all recipes are my own.

Christmas Wish List from Compare 4 Kids

We found this brilliant compare site for kids. Compare 4 Kids helps you save time and money in listing loads of things you need for your kids whether it is bedroom furniture or Christmas presents.
I tried out their Gift Finder with my eight year old daughter Star.

We logged on and put in our preferences, girl, aged 8 year and set our budget. With £100 to spend we chose one large gift and made up the rest with smaller gifts.

Straight away Star spotted the Snow Cone Slushy Maker for £49.99. We all love slushies so this would be a gift for all the family.

The we went on to the £25 price range and Star chose a board game, Logo billionaire. When clicking through to the shop we found it had been reduced to £17.99 so we are sticking with that price.

Next up was a Robo fish for £11.50.  Then Star spotted The Slap Watches at £7.45 and said she would like two, one for her one for her sister. That’s another £14.90 spent.

The total now stood at £94.78 so that left £5.22. We looked in the £5 section and star found a dinosaur woodcraft set for £4.99.

We found the gift finder fun, quick and easy to use. There was lots to choose from and the price range was brilliant. I’ve bookmarked the site for future shopping sprees.

The Gift finder takes your preferences and then gives you ideas from over 50 of the UK’s top websites such as Argos, Toys R Us, Hamleys, Prezzie Box and many more. It saves you from having to trawl each site individually and lets you see the best prices for what you want to buy. Or if you don’t know what to buy it will give you loads of ideas within your price range.

This is my entry into the Compare 4 Kids competition. All thoughts an opinions are my own (and Star’s)

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I’ve also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit me…is this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I’ve loved. If I don’t love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It’s always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I’ll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.