Wednesday 31 December 2014

My Organised Christmas 2014

That's it, Christmas is over for another year.  But just for reference for next year (or if you need to start planning in July) here's the list of everything I did in the run up to the big day.

I loved sharing the excitement with Cate over at Me Add Three and her
Christmas Countdown.

Plus huge thank you's to Izabela Peters, Lapland Mailroom and the Portable North Pole for their gifts this year,

Follow the links as I post them below to keep up with my planning (where I will be following Organized Christmas as it applies to me, however I may throw in some extra things) and let me know how you are getting on with yours.  Are you super organised or a Christmas Eve shopper??

Meal Plan - 30/12/14 to 5/1/15

I really must meal plan as once again the freezer is full of bits that are never going to get eaten, we must waste so much money.

I'll be getting a few bits in for hubby to make his own meals from (and the kids Mon-Thurs) as he won't follow a meal plan, so will be planning for me all week and for the kids Friday - Sunday.

Thankfully I have about 10 frozen leftover meals in the freezer that I can eat up after this weekend as I also must re-start my diet I can hardly fit in my trousers.

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Chickywiggle's guide to .... Christmas Party Food

This season we have mostly been eating and ... well yup that's pretty much it.  From roast dinners to party food to chocolate you name it, we've eaten it.  But that's what Christmas is all about right?  **tucks into another piece of shortbread**

I did a big online food shop that was delivered on Monday 22nd.  To be honest the experience I had using the app was far from perfect.  I booked the slot in good time and it was really convenient to open the app wherever I was to be able to add an item (or delete one if I got it cheaper somewhere else).  Every time I went in to add an item tho the chicken in the basket became unavailable and I had to replace it with another.  5 times this happened in the run up to the delivery and I was beginning to think I would have to go shopping somewhere else on Christmas eve.  Thankfully I was able to add the original chicken to my order the night before so Christmas was saved.

Tesco had kindly sent me some money off vouchers as part of the Orchard Programme for their Finest* Party Food.  It wasn't easy to find these online (as I've said before our online Finest* range is not brilliant) but with some googling and looking at what others had purchased I discovered there was more to the Party Food range then I first thought.... couldn't get the profiteroles tho :(

Our Tesco Finest* Party Food  range helped out in 3 meals over the festive period.

Monday 29 December 2014

The Dinosaur that pooped.............

Nothing says Happy Christmas better then pooping dinosaurs does it?  So this year I won't be saying "Happy Christmas" to you, I will be sharing with you the fabulous creations of Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter (yup them guys from McFly) and "Poop, presents and prehistoric creatures".

We were really lucky to be asked to review that funny series and when the postie (eventually) decided to deliver it just before Christmas it was in great time for a 3h train ride to London.

I am sure the rest of the train enjoyed the hysterical laughter from our seats.  From mummy, who found it difficult to actually stop giggling long enough to read some of it, the boys who, well lets face it, it mentions the word poop - need I say more, and even Grandma managed a smile!

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Snowman soup

You know Christmas is near when mums everywhere start referring to snowman soup.  It's become a tradition in our house and this year is no exception.

Unfortunately, being unworldly, my husband had not heard of it, and when the kids got up yesterday and declared that was what they wanted to drink we had a situation....and a frantic text at work, "wtf is snowman soup?".... I explained ... the next question "can I use mint herbs?".... some people just can't be helped :)

So, while the shops are still open and there's time to pick up any missing ingredient, let me introduce you to snowman soup.

Place marshmallows and a candy cane (or in this case a bit of candy tree) in a mug. 

Add your favourite hot chocolate mix.   

Add boiling water

Stir stir stir stir stir

Drink once cooled.

And it's that simple.  If you have any you can always decorate with whipped cream.


Friday 19 December 2014

Chickywiggle's Christmas guide to .......... essential TV viewing (part 1).

It's the 20th December tomorrow and do you know what that means???

OK, as it's Christmas I'll let you try again, .. here's another hint .... it's the last Saturday before Christmas.....

Got it??

YUP, It's Christmas TV guide day - the official day that the Double Christmas Guides Start and this year they run from the 20th December to the 2nd January.

Are you a circler or a highlighter???  when I was little we all had a different colour highlighter pen and went through the TV guide as soon as it arrived in the house marking out what it was we wanted to watch.... this year I couldn't find the highlighter pen so I had to draw rings around things.  It is most definitely not as easy to see what you have marked out so I shall be buying a new highlighter and amending it :)

In the first of a 2 parter, here is my Top 7 picks (1 a day) of what we shall be watching this holiday season, not including films (I'll cover them tomorrow).

Thursday 18 December 2014

Do you have Faith In Nature?

My names Laura, and I'm a bath addict.  There I admit it, I hold my hands up. In the last year I've gone from buying the cheapest shampoo, conditioner and bubble bath to treating myself to lush bath bombs and body shop sugar scrubs.

Since the dreaded nits hit here a few months ago my hair was ruined. The lotion stripped it of everything good, there was no bounce, no shine and no life.  In fact I don't think it could have looked less greasy if I'd showered in vegetable oil.   I discovered argon oil and never looked back. Then faith in nature approached me.... where had I heard that name before?  I had a sense of coconut, and looking back through my posts realised I had used their gorgeous coconut shower gel and foam bath just a couple of months ago when it appeared in my goody bag from the Northern Bloggers Meet Up.

This time was to ask for my views on their extensive shampoo and conditioner range.  I was dubious, could I swap my argon oil for something else (especially at party season when it's all about the hair).  But after looking into it and discovering they did a chocolate range......well that's an offer I'd be mad to turn down!!  Then my husband told me I couldn't drink it :(.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Chickywiggles Christmas guide to...... Songs

One of the best bits about Christmas for me are the songs.  How can you not resist the urge to sing along to Frosty the Snowman as he bounds over the hills with a "Thumpety thump, thump, thumpety thump, thump"?

Admit it, we have all screamed along with Kirsty McColl and the Pogues during "Fairytale of New York" it's probably the most unseasonal Christmas song but ohh soo festive all the same.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

This Christmas we will mostly be wearing.......

I love Christmas clothing, between Primark, Peacocks, Morrisons and TJ Huges me and the boys can get kitted out in long lasting clothes and at competitive prices.

Not including daddy, because he's a Grinch, me and the boys were all kitted out for Christmas jumper day, Christmas parties and of course the day itself.


I bought a jumper from Primark last year, a gorgeous green comfy sweatshirt.  So to save the pennies I'll be wearing it again this year.      **sob sob** the husband just tumble dried it and now it doesn't fit..... what's a girl to do so close to the big day??

Monday 15 December 2014

Christmas gift guide..... for kids

I have had so much fun Christmas shopping for the kids this year, however it was really hard to get something they wanted, needed and wasn't tat.  As much as I believe Christmas should be about getting presents they wouldn't normally get I don't believe in buying for the sake of buying. 

My mum, dad etc have been asking what they want....but what they want is very different to what they might get.
   For example give ben £20 and he'd probably want sweets and some bit of plastic that he'd play with for 2 days until he gets bored.

   I know both he and Noah would love a full set of teenage mutant ninja turtle figures and the shell raiser.  However I know that this would mean countless fighting, arguing and next month they'd want something else. With this setting you back the best part of £70 it's not something I'd consider a sensible present.  And while they are still at an age where I can have a say over their spending habits.....I will!

Sunday 14 December 2014

In The Picture

I was one of those mums, those who think I know best and that I can take great photo's of my boys.  But you know what the older they get the harder it is... I always end up with the back of a head or a silly face.  I love the natural look, don't get me wrong, but sometimes you want a really great photo for the grandparents and the wall.

I've had various professional photo's taken in the last 6 years and to be honest have been really disappointed in a lot of them.  The only ones that have ever made me go 'wow' are the ones from In The Picture, I'd not go any where else and recommend them to anyone who asks for suggestions .... but I'm rushing ahead.... let me fill you in....

It was a few years ago now, 2009 that I was first approached by In The Picture and offered a really fantastic offer that, as they say, I just couldn't refuse.  A 12x8 colour portrait for just 99p.  Well with Ben at only 7 months old how could I refuse this.

I headed to the studios on York Street, Sheffield and a week or so later collected this amazing picture of my little boy.

Christmas Planning Week 16: Maintenance Week

It's sooo close we can almost touch it and, if you're like me, no matter how organised you feel you're not. Yes my Christmas shopping can be ticked off, My vodka is on order for delivery on the 22nd and the ibuprofen is ready for the 26th.

I've wrapped most of the presents (and bought far too much as usual) and the chocolate tub is only half full  .... but the housework... well that's taken a bit of a back seat.

This week is all about Maintanance ......... making sure the rooms are organized, tidy and ready and finishing all the little jobs.

There are now 11 days left until the big day to get things done in .... here's how mine will plan out.  I am going to print this off and stick it up/ write it in my diary so I can check on my progress/ outstanding things.

Of course I also have a blogging schedule to add to this.....

Saturday 13 December 2014

Christmas is coming and the kids are getting excited, yet bored.....

Sounds like your house too?  

With only 11 days left until Christmas my boys are getting really excited and finding things to do to keep them entertained is never easy.  

We make a point of going on the train at least once every couple of months, with no car it is by far the quickest and easiest way to get to our destinations, see new places and make great memories.  We renew our family and friends railcard every year as it saves us so much money, especially when you consider the cost of fares at the moment.  We've just booked return day tickets to London for next weekend. Including a travel card it set us back £130 (2 adults and 2 children) (£238.50 without).  However when you compare that to the cost of petrol, the stress of driving and motorway traffic it's definitely worth it. 

I decided to set myself a challenge, a look this year to see just what was out there that we could get to on the train if we fancied it.

Friday 12 December 2014

Homemade Garlic Bread

We were really excited to try Tesco Ingredients Garlic and Herb butter as part of the Tesco Orchard Programme the other week and decided this would be a great time to teach the boys how to make homemade garlic bread.
   It is soo easy to do and something we are sure to try again.

We went for the Tesco Crusty White Farmhouse Bread Mix at 80p for 500g. This mix will make 1 large loaf, 10 small rolls or 4 x 20cm (8 inch) thin pizza bases.  We went for rolls of various sizes.

The mix comes with instructions on for both oven bake and bread machine, and whilst I would love a bread machine we don't own one and had to go for the oven method.

The great thing about making bread is that the boys could be involved at every step, yes mummy had to step in and help to mix as it got thicker but they learnt loads not just about cooking processes but also about how bread rises.

Thursday 11 December 2014

Tesco Ingredients Dairy range - a review

Readers to my blog will know that I am part of the Tesco Orchard Programme which allows me to try their various services and foods for free or at a reduced price.  You will also know how picky my family are.

The Tesco Ingredients Dairy range is rather limiting at the moment.   It is designed to feature ingredients that will turn everyday cooking into something different, special.  They do this thanks to the special blend of flavours and ideas Tesco have obtained from around the world.

You should be able to buy items such as; “Spanish Chorizo and Smoked Paprika Cheesy Toppers”, “Parmesan and Tomato Butter” and “Stroganoff Cooking Sauce”,
  Tesco provide some amazing looking recipes:

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Elf Escapades - Growing Magic Trees

The boys loved this one.

They woke the other morning to find a message from Santa with some green seeds (4 apple tic tacs).  Ben thought he could see through Santa's trick telling me  seeds were 'mints'. This led to a lesson in why you never eat anything you find laying around as you don't know what it is (but I'll not go into that).

Anyway along with the seeds Santa had left some magic snow (which i had purchased from B&M). If you've never had magic snow before nip out now and get some. .... its okay I'll wait till you get back to carry on .....

Monday 8 December 2014

Bubble wrap calenders

I found some of those little calender tabs in Poundland the other day and in true Chickywiggle fashion my hand was buying them before my brain had decided what to make.
Then the other day when the boys were up to their elbows in paint I spotted some bubble wrap and came up with a great idea.... bubblewrap printing.

Sunday 7 December 2014

Christmas Planning Week 15: Finish-Up Week

It's now or never, there's only 2 more weekends to go before the big day.  I'm now in a proper sorting and organising mood as I only have 9 days of no work (ohhh on that note I only have 7 more days of work.... YAY)

I've wrapped the presents that need posting, just got to sort out all the cards this week and mail everything off.  

I love the idea of delegating chores to the kids, Ben seems to be in a very helpful mood at the moment (wonder why?!)

I'm flying on the organisation front.... but sadly lacking on the sorting and cleaning.  In fact I've wrapped almost everything and working on Christmas Eve hamper.... must add a box to my shopping list.

Our elf and his friends is here and having a great time (I'll try and pop a post up about it) and the 24 books of advent is going down a treat (again post to follow).

Christmas Season is well and truly in full swing with Ben's Christmas play at school tomorrow and Noah's next week.  Our trip to Santa is planned for the 21st and I'm super excited.

Let's take a look where I'm up to.....

Saturday 6 December 2014

Christmas guides - Tableware

This year we are really going for it in style, Ben is old enough to get into the spirit of it now and loves finding all things festive so I agreed we would have a proper crockery set for the Christmas Period.

We looked at a few and loved some from B&M but then we went to Morrisons and came home with this set.......

I also have placemats and coasters...... somewhere ;)

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Video messages from Santa via Portable North Pole (PNP)

Another December, another trip to the Portable North Pole. Not only do we love PNP in this house but it has been the main topic of conversation for the past 2 weeks at work.

PNP is now in its 7th year and I've been using it for the last 6! Every year the videos get better and better.  A few years ago you'd have never caught me spending money on a message from Santa but this year was the first time I have paid for the PNP.

Monday 1 December 2014

Christmas Gift Guide ...... for Her

I don't know about you but I am always stuck when it comes to the question "what do you want for Christmas" because I spend so much of my life trying to know what the kids and the husband would like that I never get time to think about me.  That and I am so money concious that I think "mmm I'd like that but do I really want them to spend £40 on something that I wouldn't pay that much for myself?

But this year I have really enjoyed looking at what there is on offer and creating my own Christmas List either of the top 5 things I would love or things I have enjoyed and think you might like, or to give you ideas for someone else.  Feel free to print it off and circle your favourites and leave for the loved ones in your life to find.

Sunday 30 November 2014

Christmas Planning Week 14: Decorations

Don't know about you but this week is defiantly the kick start week for decorating our house.

We spent Saturday putting up our tree, no tinsel this year, I can never get it to look as good as my mum used too and this year it looked even worse.  However we've put the addition of sweeties strung up with ribbon instead.

I'm not happy with it tho, it looks really bare and naff... going to look out for a nice 6ft bushy one when they get reduced for next year I think.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Our first visit from the toothfairy

It was a very big day in our house today, Ben's tooth that's been wobbly for the last 4 months (seriously I'm not kidding!!) eventually fell out today .... well Ben pulled it out but still........

Now the trouble is Ben has a cabin bed .... these things are HUGE.  Mummy cannot reach over the side of it let alone root around under a pillow for a tooth. Fortunately Ben is a wriggle in bed so I was able to persuade him to leave the tooth in a tub on the table in his room   But uh oh how will the tooth fairy know it's there?  we don't want her looking under the pillow and giving up do we?   Tada mummy found special fairy note paper and Ben wrote her a letter.
   This is another achievement in itself - he hates writing anything and kicks off if you ask him to write his name on a card.

Sunday 23 November 2014

Christmas Planning - Week 13: Dining Room

4 weeks left.... where has the time gone?  

This week has been a bit quieter on the Christmas front, mainly because I had an interview (didn't get the job.... pfft ... their loss - wasn't my dream job so not all that bothered.).  

Still got 2 pressies to get and about to get an Albelli voucher to make my grandparents their photobook.... that's this afternoons job so I can get it ordered.  I did make one in Photobox but it was expensive and rubbish compared to this type.  

We have at least decided on Morrisons for our Christmas crockery and I'm going to make sure it is packed away safely so it can come out year on year and become traditional.   (post to follow soon)

Tree is due to go up next weekend and at the moment I still cannot get in the cellar to get to any of the decorations and stuff so that's on the list for this week.  

I also really want to get the playroom finished so we can use it as storage over December. It still needs prepping, papering and painting. 

Saturday 22 November 2014

Frozen Family Fun Day - 22nd November 2014

With something Frozen themed so close to home how can we not support it?  Me and the boys will be there ........... will you?

Local enterprise raises money for The Children's Hospital with Frozen family Fun Day

Saturday November 22nd sees Frozen Princess Elsa bringing an extra touch of sparkle to Wadsley as she offers her support to a grand afternoon of Frozen themed fun and games all raising money for the care of babies and children at Sheffield's Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and The Children's Hospital.

Friday 21 November 2014

Christmas Sweets

It's so almost here..... 33 days!!!!  I don't know about you but from the day the tree goes up (next Saturday for us) the goodies come out.   And what a selection of goodies I've got in the house this year... so many in fact the treat box is overflowing and the lid no longer fits!!

I'll be showing you my choice of nibbles later on but this post is all about the sweets!  We love a good selection of sweets to nibble over December and nothing says Christmas more then .... Selection tubs.

These are generally priced around £5 at the moment (I'm sure I read  somewhere the RRP is £11!!) but the size is getting smaller every year.  They were around 1kg in weight in 2011 and now they are only about 700g (yet the same price on average).

But we still buy them :)  and this year we have 3.  None of us are fans of Roses or Quality Street (I only like Strawberry and Orange ones) so the first in this years selection is:

Monday 17 November 2014

Tesco Finest* Spaghetti Carbonara - a review

We're rather a picky family, none of us like onions so we have to steer away from any ready meals as they always seem to contain them.  Tesco's finest* range is no different and when we were asked if we would like to try one of their chilled ready meals I was a little wary and almost said no.

I looked online and discovered their is a huge selection.....

The Lasagne sounded really nice with it's "rich ragu of tender beef and outdeeor bred pork, Italian tomatoes and white wine. Layered between fresh, hand ruffled pasta and finished with tangy Northern Italian Grana Padano cheese" but yup, take a look at the ingredients ....... onion.

Aberdeen Angus Cottage Pie, "Minced beef in a vegetable gravy topped with fresh King Edward mashed potato and a shredded potato & parsley crumb".... mouth watering. ... but .... onions.

I can't go wrong with Meatball Pasta tho... oh no, of course, they'll have onion in won't they.

But I did find 2 dishes without onion.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Christmas Planning - Week 12: Attic Storage

Eeekkk - it's only 5 weeks until Christmas.  I've had a very very productive morning sorting out all the Christmas stuff and making room for it all.   OK so I emptied the cr4p out the airing cupboard/ wardrobe (in my room) and threw it on the bed then put the Christmas things in santa sacks (see this post) and put them into the empty space.
As for the things that are on the bed, well I'm hoping the magic faries will find them a home if I leave them long enough .......... what do you mean they won't ........ bugger.

Whilst sorting through the Christmas stuff I made one bag pressies and one bag Christmas Eve hamper/ things I may need before Christmas (such as festive jumpers and t-shirts).  I also listed them all on an excel spreadsheet with cost and savings.

Christmas bags from ...... B&M Stores

I love the giant Santa Sack I got from Izabela Peters but now the boxes of pressies are overflowing and I'm running out of room to hide them, lets face it those supermarket bags aren't exactly discreat are they?

I can't bring myself to wrap them up yet... that's got to be saved for December with chocolates and vodka.  So i thought what better way to hide them then right under their noses, in Santa sacks in my room in full view .... with penelty of death if they even considered ratching through them.

Now the Izabela Peters one is currently full of the advent books (more on that in another post) and as gorgeous as it is the bank manager wouldn't let me buy another couple so I nipped into my local B&M Stores to see what they had.

I came out with these lovely slogan sacks.  They are larger then the other at (80cm x 50cm) and made of soft felt.   They also come with a plain drawstring.

Friday 14 November 2014

Mince and Chips

It sounds a strange combination doesn't it, but when you have a fussy 6yr old when it comes to meat you will try anything to get them to eat cheaper meals.

Once he'd turned his nose up at it and I explained it was just broken up beefbuger and he'd worked out that by squishing it together he could make meatballs he soon ate it up.

Here's my recipe for quick n easy mince and chips.

1) Put some chips in the oven (if using a fryer then cook when appropriate)
2) Brown some mince. then drain off any fat.

The Christmas Tag

Please join in with this fun Christmas game that Leanne put on her blog.(

Here are my answers....

1. What is your favourite Christmas Movie/s?

My favourite Christmas Movie of all time is Muppets Christmas Carol.  Personally, and I remember causing great controversy over this earlier in the year, I loved the "When Love is Gone" song and disapointed it has been removed from the DVD release I bought to replace my video.
  The scene seems far too short without it.

Monday 10 November 2014

Yankee Candle Advent Calendar

With Christmas fast approaching (44 days and counting) I've decided to start telling you about some of my purchases, these are things I have chosen to buy as opposed to sponsored posts.  My first is something I have been eager to get.... the Yankee Candle Advent Calendar.

I am a HUGE candle fan but only get Yankee ones on special occasions as I just cannot justify their prices, from the moment I saw this one tho I knew I had to get it.  Again tho the £21.99 price tag put me off a little (don't be sucked in by those selling for £25 or £49.99) until I did the maths and it worked out at less then £1 a candle (tealight) and when you think that day 24 holds a secret extra treat  (hint:  there are really 25 tealights) it's actually a good buy.
THEN I got handed an early Christmas Treat ... a 25% off voucher for Clinton Cards taking it down to a bargain £16.50!!!  You have never seen me run to a shop after work any quicker in my life.  Not only did I get great service but the bag they put it in was shiny and thick and really made me feel like a New York'er on a Christmas Shopping Spree.

Sunday 9 November 2014

Christmas Planning - Week 11: Garage/ Storage

Payday has been so I'll be heading to B&M to get the lovely Christmas Crockery and towels I saw, and of course will feed back to you.

I treated myself to the Yankee Candle Advent Calender while it was a bargain at £16 in Clinton Cards (used a 25% off voucher) and again there'll be a post about that coming up too.

So this week on Organised Christmas is Garage/ Storage week.  As I don't have a garage I'll be tackling the cellar and digging out the Christmas things ....... then trying to work out where to re-store it in time for the big day - queue boxes everywhere lol.

Friday 7 November 2014

Flashback Friday - The Jetsons

Meet George Jetson
His boy, Elroy
Daughter Judy
Jane, his wife

The Jetsons originally aired way before I was born in 1962/3 before repeating with additional new episodes from 1984-87.  It has been repeated recently on Boomerang.

Thursday 6 November 2014

Giant Santa Sacks from Izabela Peters

It's only 6 weeks until Christmas and time to be really thinking about not just what to buy people but how to decorate the house and present the gifts.  Which is why I was very excited to be approached by Izabela Peters and invited to look at their range of lovely Christmas goodies.

Every year I buy cheap santa sacks to fill with those goodies that don't fit into a stocking and every year I end up getting cross and throwing them away by Boxing Day because they have stretched and ripped. Which is why I asked to review the Personalised Christmas Sack in Red Gingham.

This sack is huge (and I got the middle sized one at 65x50cm (25"x19").  It's so robust, really thick and strong and made from 100% cotton.  Even better, when you have kids around, it's machine washable.    Plus they are all made in their own UK workshop.

One of the drawbacks I find with drawstring bags is the ends frey and we end up burring them with a lighter (a great trick if you didn't know it already) to melt the threads back together.  Izabela Peters has obviously come across this problem many times as well as they sew tags around the ends of theirs to stop the problem.