[Ad] Spice Up Your December With Schwartz. 3 Ways With Cinnamon and Christmas Stollen Cookies Recipe

This is a paid post in collaboration with Schwartz.

I don’t know about you but even though I love the pretty lights and the decorations at Christmas, it is the smells and tastes that make me feel festive. Nothing beats cinnamon when it comes to christmassy smells! 

Food is such a huge part of our festive season. Whether it’s curling up with the Supermarket food catalogues and planning out our food selection – just me? or perusing the Christmas markets. It really is all about the smell and the taste at this time of year!

3 ways with Schwartz cinnamon 

The king of the cinnamon recipes is of course, the cinnamon roll. They always feel like an indulgent treat. I love them with a nice frothy coffee. Admittedly I eat these all year round but I do like to make them too! My favourite recipe can be found here at This Farm Girl Cooks

Cinnamon can be used in savoury recipes too – and it is beyond great! Not your usual festive fare but you can only eat so many roast dinners, right? I love these Moroccan Lemon and Cardamom Meatballs. So good for warming you up on cold nights! 

My Mum did lots of baking when I was a child. With 5 children to look after (plus all of our friends of course) I suppose it must have worked out lots cheaper to make rather than buy our snacks. Sadly I don’t bake very often but when I do, I like to involve Moose. It’s usually good fun and keeps him busy.

So, last but not least and one of our favourites to make at this time of year is Stollen Cookies. They are really yummy and definitely make my house smell wonderfully Christmassy while they are baking. Double win! 

stollen cookies

Makes approx 24 

Ingredients

150g salted butter
80g light soft brown sugar
80g granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
180g plain flour
60g ground almonds
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp (or a big pinch) salt
80g marzipan (chopped)
50g sultanas
50g dried cranberries
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice

Method

  1. Heat your oven to Gas 4/350F/180C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. In a bowl pr using a mixer, cream together the butter and both types of sugar. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg.
  3. Sift in the flour and bicarb, add the salt, ground almonds, cinnamon and mixed spice, and stir with a wooden spoon.
  4. Fold in the cranberries, sultanas and marzipan.
  5. Put equal sized amounts on the baking trays and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are beginning to brown.
  6. Cool on a wire rack.

 

How To Be A Savvy Christmas Shopper

I think most of us have been there. Despite knowing full well that Christmas is on the same day every year, we are simply not ready for it. 

Each year I promise myself that I will be prepared and therefore make the whole ordeal of being “the organiser” just a bit less stressful. Guess what, it doesn’t happen. Well. It does, but not as much as I would like ideally? I always manage to improve a little but ultimately I can only do that by not embracing the Christmas crazy

With a fairly large family to shop for I need to have a plan, and here it is. My guide to living your best Christmas shopping life.

shopping arcade

Make a list – and stick to it

This is the first and most important tip. Make sure that you are buying because you want to and not out of obligation. Nobody should be forcing this on you. If your financial situation would be improved by having a shorter list then it’s time to talk to the people on your list – they may well be relieved that you did! 

Remember, it is only a bargain if you were going to buy it anyway

Join a community

There are loads of groups on facebook and websites like Latest Deals which are updated by their members with news of the best and newest bargains around. I love places such as this because it saves a LOT of legwork. 

Use Cashback sites

Just the other day I was reminded by KatyKicker to use one on a Fridge Freezer purchase I needed to make. It saved us nearly £100 and cost nothing but a minute of my time to login. You really cannot argue with a return like that! 

I always try to check 

  • Top Cash Back – Always check to see if the retailer your buying from is listed and take advantage of money back and promotional codes
  • Swagbucks – You can earn cashback on your shopping as well as taking part in short surveys.
  • Quidco – Again, another one to check out before making purchases to see if there are any savings to be had.

Use the 5 gift rule 

Something they..

  • eat
  • wear
  • read
  • want
  • need

Really simple and very effective. Use this to reign yourself in when you need to! 

Be Honest

If you are low on funds then perhaps there is a gift you could make or something you could do for the recipient instead? If you are going to offer babysitting though, do make sure you like the children in question because trust me, those babysitting vouchers WILL get used.. 

Most of all though, if it will hurt you to buy them a gift then you shouldn’t be doing it. The person you are buying for would much rather you be happy than be stressed out because of this (and if that’s not the case then you should have crossed them off your list years ago anyway) 

christmas gifts

 

Good luck with your shopping this Christmas and most of all remember that it is meant to be fun! Do what you can to take the pressure off and make sure you take time to enjoy the sights and smells all around you. 

I would love to know your tips for Christmas shopping?

 

 

Personalised videos from Santa with Portable North Pole

[AD] We were gifted a Portable North Pole Magic Pass for the purpose of this review

Portable North Pole is part of our Christmas tradition. I love the magic of Christmas. The mix of yummy food and drink, the shopping, the twinkly lights. I loved it as a child but it might be even slightly better when you have little ones for whom you can help provide that Christmas sparkle. 

If you are in this position this Christmas you really need to check out Portable North Pole. It’s hands down the best app ever. Strong words I know but it honestly is. As you know from this post here, I try not to go too crazy at Christmas. But this is different! This is part of the magic for us. 

The idea is that you input your child’s info into the app/website and at the end you get a video message from Santa at the North Pole personalised just for them! 

How much is it?

This year there are 3 options but I definitely think that the magic pass offers excellent value. For just £12.99 you will receive

  • Unlimited access to all Premium videos and calls for unlimited kids

    Includes all Premium videos and calls

  • The reaction recorder

    with the mobile app and web browser (Chrome)

  • NewEnhanced videos

    All-new multi-device scenarios

  • NewFamily options

    Create a message for more than one child (available in 2 scenarios)

  • 1080 HD downloads

    of all your videos

  • Video calls from Santa

    You can see and hear Santa on a face-to-face video call

  • BonusFirst name guaranteed

    If requested before November 15th

  • BonusPrintable nice list certificate

The Magic Pass is especially great value if you happen to have more than 1 child (or adult, there is an option for Santa to send a message to grown ups too!) as the Magic Pass entitles you to create unlimited videos for an unlimited number of children! 

pnp prices

The message from Santa can be as full of info as you decide to make it. You can add photos of your child and on some videos you can even add friends and siblings names as well as pets. On some video messages you can add their interests or what they have excelled at this year for Santa to mention. 

When your child sits down to watch their personalised message you can also choose to watch their reaction which is captured for you to watch back later! I love this aspect. 

Moose is absolutely going to freak out with excitement when he sees his personalised video from Santa – my only problem is trying to decide which video message to create first! 

Find out more about Portable North Pole on their website here or use this link to get a 15% discount on your order. 

 

 

 

Bah Humbug! A beginners guide.

This week, in the midst of a flurry of last minute frantic Christmas preparations, an oddity has appeared in Peterborough.

Bah Humbug! Fest is a welcome break from all things festive. With not a Christmas tree or even a mince pie in sight, families are invited to spend some time having (non festive) fun together. We were lucky enough to be invited to attend the opening and so I thought it might be helpful to offer a beginners guide to all thing Bah Humbug!

Here’s what you need to know

What is Bah Humbug! Fest?

Bah Humbug! Fest is comprised of over 40 fairground rides and attractions. Once your admission is paid the theory is that you can enjoy your 4 hour allotted slot – either 12 until 4pm or 5 until 9pm depending on your preference with very little if any additional expenditure. No festive decorations or songs will be around to irritate your senses here – if you recoil at the thought of hearing THAT Slade song one more time then this is the place for you!

But what is there to do?

I was a bit dubious about the poster. “Over 40 rides and attractions” was the claim and I wondered what the quality of those rides might be considering that they are all free and unlimited upon entry. So. Here is a list of just some of them:

For the younger guests
  • Thomas The Tank Engine ride
  • Runaway Train
  • The Fun House
  • Frozen Swing
  • Helter Skelter
  • Mini Miami
  • Flying Planes
  • Teacups
  • Wild West Coaster
  • Go-Gator
  • Mini Wheel

For the older ones
  • Dodgems
  • Freak Out
  • Superbowl
  • Waltzer
  • Miami
  • Extreme
  • Ghost Train
  • Crazy Bulls
  • Haunted House
  • Twist

A well as the fairground rides, Bah Humbug! Fest also offers a whole host of inflatables including some Wipeout style big balls! Moose spent ages playing on the inflatable slides and also the Toxic Labyrinth – think mini inflatable assault course. I don’t THINK it was actually toxic…

 

What age group would this suit?

I think 4 to 14 would be a safe bet here. There is plenty to keep this age range occupied at Bah Humbug! Fest. The younger ones spent ages playing on the inflatables. Especially the inflatable slides! It was great that the smaller rides were indoors too which offered a bit of protection against the colder weather for the younger children. Outside, the larger rides appealed to the older ones – so much so that Bess doesn’t appear in many of my pics. She disappeared to try out those bigger rides while I enjoyed the smaller ones with Moose.

What can I eat?

I always feel a bit apprehensive about the costs of refreshments at this kind of an event. This Mum needs her coffee – especially when I am in charge of some very excited small people. A cup of tea or coffee here will set you back £2. There is also a covered seating area if you get the chance to use it.

There were a few food vendors selling burgers and jacket potatoes which were priced at around £5 each. Pretty much what you would expect to pay I think. Donuts were 4 for £3.

There is no signage to suggest that picnics are unwelcome but it was really only toward the end of our session that the children seemed to feel like they might want to eat something. They were having too much fun to care!

How much will it cost me?

Individual tickets priced £20 per person

Family of 4 – reduced ticket price £70

Spectator only tickets priced £6

Under 3s go free

Tickets give unlimited access to a four-hour session at Bah Humbug! Fest

There are two sessions a day: 12-4pm and 5-9pm

 

What’s the parking situation?

It’s free and there is lots of it! Peterborough arena has 22,000 spaces. There is also a half hourly bus service nearby for non-drivers.

Is it really worth it?

£20 per ticket could be thought of as quite steep. Especially so close to Christmas. However, rides at a fairground can be anywhere between £2 and £5 per ride. That soon adds up!

Based on a cheap night at the travelling fair where rides are £2 a go, you would need to ride 10 times to get your moneys worth. My lot went on 10 rides in the first hour easily.

If your child isn’t really into fairgrounds then I would say it would be one to avoid. Maybe the panto instead? But if  like mine, your kids love rides then Bah Humbug! Fest will be a massive hit!

 


Christmas Gift Ideas – For Children

Let’s face it, Christmas is all about the children. With that in mind here is a selection of what we will be playing with this Christmas morning. Hopefully you will see something here to inspire you, it can be so hard to know what to buy!

Make your own Choc Ice with Mr Frosty, the coolest guy around!

This kit comes with everything to create your own Mr Frosty & Penguin frozen chocolate figures.Fill the 3D moulds with your favourite yoghurt flavour and place in the freezer. Melt your chocolate in Mr Frosty s igloo, then dip your Mr Frosty frozen shape in the melted chocolate. Place on the drying station and watch your Mr Frosty Choc Ice come to life!

Zoo imagination biscuits, which are both gluten and lactose-free, are the perfect stocking fillers this Christmas, and are treats that now the whole family can enjoy. A great choice for little ones who perhaps aren’t so keen on chocolate. They are available from Tesco.

There’s a new surprise waiting inside every Baby Secrets single pack. Each bath tub opens to reveal a surprise Baby Secrets figure with a different personality – which one will you find? Then fill the tub with water, and watch the baby’s nappy change colour when put in – will yours be a boy or a girl?

 

Hands down the best educational game for older children that I have played this year. If you have a child of 8+ then I recommend you buy this. Players race against the clock to form as many words as possible using the element symbol tiles, adding together the atomic numbers of each tile used to create a word. For example : Ba Na Na = Banana = 78 points! Amazingly there are over 10,000 words that can be created using combinations of the element symbols of the FReNeTiC game board.

This Discovery Nightlight 20cm Illuminated Globe

is easy to use, rotate and learn with, this illuminate globe shows children how the world spins on its axis! It also illuminates and shows countries in colour blocks and names seas/oceans and capital cities, perfect for exploring and learning more about our world!

This Discovery nightlight globe is a STEM toy which encourage children to develop skills in the core disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Suitable for ages 8 years and up. Fun for all the family.

I love this range of DC Super Hero Girls.

Unleash your power and explore your inner hero with DC Super Hero action dolls! Inspired by the powerful students of DC Super Hero High, the DC Super Hero Girls action dolls are ready for powerful fun.

The Incredibles 2 was a big hit in our house so I know Moose is going to love this toy! Jack-Jack comes with batteries too so there is one less thing to remember on Christmas morning. Simply flick his switch from Try Me to On and let the fun begin!

Press Jack-Jacks tummy to hear him giggle. Press some more and see his other powers! Hold his belly to make Jack-Jack “explode” into ultimate power mode – all colours, lights and sounds are activated

Count your final sleeps to Christmas with Smiggle’s 12 day advent calendar. Behind each door awaits either a prank or treats! Moose is going to love playing jokes on us all, it’s going to be an interesting month!

I love the bits and bobs Smiggle has for sale.

I like that they are fun designs and I think you would be hard pushed to find a child who couldn’t find something they like. Smiggle is a firm favourite in our house.

Gel-a-Peel allows you to express yourself through your own designer creations. Create gel fashions, patches, accessories and jewellery using the Gel-a-Peel Fashion Station. It’s so easy and fun. Just pick your stencil design, gel, squeegee and peel. Includes accessory hardware for three clutches and two pairs of earrings.

Project Mc2 is a team of smart and seriously cool girls who use their love of science and their spy skills as they go on missions for secret organization, NOV8. They are real girls with real skills ready to take on anything. Watch new episodes of the project Mc2 original series, only on Netflix. Adrienne Atoms next mission is to use her cosmetic chemistry skills to formulate the ideal look for saving the world. Formulate your own perfumes with project Mc2 perfume maker. You can perform this same cool steam. Experiment at home using just household items again and again.

I always like to include something for the children to do at Christmas.

I am really looking forward to trying this out with Moose. He loves birds and I think he’s going to enjoy playing with The Window Bird Feeder. The large portal with two-way mirror allows you to observe birds without disturbing them. The feeder is made from quality components and easy to install, refill and clean. Full instructions and a garden bird guide are also included in the kit.

Now Bess is 12 it’s getting a little harder to find “toys” for her to play with, but Interplay have us covered with fab labs.

Create the latest cool fashions by adding vibrant and trendy colours to clothes and accessories with Interplay’s Designer Tie Dye Kit. It is fun and easy to do and the 8 page instruction booklet explains the techniques to get the latest trendy looks. The Kit contains 4 dyes in applicator bottles, rubber bands and PVC lab gloves. There are enough ingredients to dye the equivalent of 5 T Shirts

The Best Friends Style Lab lets you customise your look with this jumbo pack of fabulous styling activities that are fun to do with friends and great for parties or sleepovers. Add colour to your hair with 3 vibrant, easy to wash out hair shadows – Design salon style nails with 6 solvent free varnishes – Create glamorous glitter tattoos with 4 glitter colours and over 25 cool designs.

Get the latest festival look and create beautiful face art with the new FabLab festival face tattoos! Contains over 12 gorgeous temporary tattoo designs especially formulated to be easy to apply and easy to remove with the oil provided. Also includes glittery tattoos to customise and to add sparkle to your look! Great fun to do and perfect for festivals, parties and sleepovers!

Moose is going to love getting creative with the Little Brian range. I really enjoy playing with paints and chalks but to be able to have messy play without the mess. Well, that has to be a Christmas miracle!

I have some plain white T Shirts at the ready so that Moose can get busy with the fabric paint sticks too!

This might seem like an odd choice for a house with no bath

But the range from Zimpli Kids which includes Gelli Baff, Slime Baff and Snoball Play will be perfect for some Tuff Spot fun – preferably outdoors of course! The idea of a snoball fight after our Christmas lunch seems like a good one to me!

 

We always stock up on sweet treats over Christmas but it’s nice to have a change from chocolate and Swizzels fit the bill perfectly. Everyone has their favourites, mine are Parma Violets – unfortunately they are also Bess’s favourite too!

Toy Story 4 is going to be huge in 2019 and Mr Potato Head is a classic. He never goes out of fashion and is a great educational toy.

If you have a little one who has an interest in nature, the Living World Pocket Microscope might be the perfect choice. Small enough to fit in your pocket, but powerful enough to make an ant look the size of an antelope!

Orchard toys have loads of great puzzles and games for key stage 1 aged children and older.

Is there anything more Christmassy than Pigs in Blankets?

I found this game by Orchard Toys in our local Aldi for less than £5!

Moose loves imaginary play and he has a few dolls now but this one I think will be a firm favourite. Baby Born cries real tears, goes to the toilet (in his potty hopefully) and even eats food! He comes with 11 accessories including feeding bowl and spoon, nappy, bottle, dummy, birth certificate and bracelets.

Dino Dump: The Prehistoric Kids Game with a Smelly Twist Introducing one of the newest items in Big Potato’s range of games for kids. It’s called Dino Dump, it’s a kids game for age 6 and up and it’s based on the classic adult card game Sh*thead. This time around, we’ve cleaned up the name, added some cheeky dinosaurs and made it about a hundred times easier to learn. We even added a bunch of scratch-n-sniff dino-poo forfeit stickers – just to keep things interesting. The aim of the game is to lose all of your Dino Cards as fast as possible.

From My Little Pony and Paw Patrol to Star Wars and Shimmer & Shine – the fun range of character illumi-Mates from Spearmark will be a welcome treat for little ones this Christmas.

The power is yours!

What do you get when you combine the incredible adventures of the Avengers: Infinity War heroes with Mitre’s legendary footballs? The best football in the universe… or at least we think so! Go to battle with your friends in the park – shoot and score, with this iconic Marvel Mitre ball.

These books by Jenny Ford are sure to appeal to any little bookworm. With a great adventure, lovely illustrations and even some blank pages for your child to plan their own story, they would make an excellent gift choice.

Mojimoto are talk back characters that will repeat what you say in their own funny voice! They can also lip-sync when they hear talking or music. Their eyes and mouths move when they talk or sing. Each Mojimoto also has a ring so they can be attached to your belt or backpack and you can take them wherever you go. With 8 different styles of Mojimoto’s to choose from, you can pick the one that best suits your mood!

Learning Resources Playfoam Pals Wild Friends 2-Pack. With this fun Playfoam Pals Set, young learners dig into the Playfoam to discover their new animal friends hidden inside! There are 12 Playfoam Pals Wild Friends to collect with a super-rare golden, endangered animal critter to find too! Each pet has a pop-apart body and head, for mixing & matching and creating brand new species. Once children have discovered their Playfoam Pal, they can use the Playfoam to build perches, nests, beds and more for their new pet! Playfoam is a completely mess free creative play resource that is great for sensory play and helps develop fine motor skills for little hands.

A personalised storybook is always a really popular gift.

This one from Bang On Books even allows you to add a photo of your child inside!

Christmas pyjamas are one of our little Christmas traditions and I love the set we received recently from La Coqueta. I think that the packaging would make it a great gift choice! You can see more here

Some of the products shown were sent in exchange for inclusion. All opinions remain my own.