Gift Guide: My 5 Year Old Girl

October 10th, 2014 — 9:34pm

October is already here, which means Diva G’s birthday is right around the corner and next week she will be celebrating her 5th birthday. This year there is no big, most wished for present but there is a very big Disney Frozen theme. Here’s a sneak preview of what my little princess will be opening next week. Take a look:

5 Year Old Girl Birthday Gift Guide

  1. Disney Frozen Elsa Dress
  2. Disney Frozen Anna Dress, Anna wig and Anna boots
  3. Soft Toy Elsa Doll and Soft Toy Anna Doll
  4. Leopard Print SpiritHood
  5. Snow Fairy Door
  6. Play Doh – Meal Makin’ Kitchen
  7. Tickets to Disney On Ice 
  8. Autumn Leaves Lottie Doll

With Christmas just around the corner do let me know what your little girl likes that should be on Diva G’s Christmas gift list. Leave me a comment and tell me what you think.

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A Million Miracles #SeeTheMiracle

October 1st, 2014 — 10:56pm

“There is beauty in the most common things to those who have eyes to see” – unknown

This October I am looking forward to seeing:

  • The leaves change colour & fall from the trees.
  • My daughter discovering and opening her fifth birthday presents.
  • The clear blue skies of autumn.
  • My daughter blowing out the five candles on her birthday cake.
  • Sunday lunch round at my parents with brother.
  • Inspirational pins of things for Halloween, Christmas and New Year.
  • My son getting dressed up and heading out for Halloween.
  • Lots of lovely coverage at work for my clients.
  • The gaps in my sons smile closing as his teeth grow in.
  • Friends for supper at quiz night.
  • The bonfire & fireworks at a friends party.
  • My best friends photos on Facebook.
  • My school mum pals on the school run, in the park, at parties, in the pub!
  • Catching up with friends hundreds and thousands of miles away on Skype.
  • Great posts from my blogging buddies.
  • The photographic entries over at The Gallery and Silent Sunday.

I can’t imagine what my life would be like without my sight. When you just stop to think how many millions of things you see everyday it is reminder of how sight is an unconscious privilege for the majority who can see. For those who live without sight, whether born blind or lose sight later, day to day life is more challenging than I can ever begin to imagine. If my eyesight or that of my children’s or parent’s was compromised we are very fortunate to have access to great healthcare locally via the NHS. However blindness especially in a developing country can be devastating; you’re often isolated and excluded, unable to get an education or work to support your family so you’re completely reliant on those around you. It’s hardly surprising then that people often tell us it feels like a miracle when they get their sight back. Which is why Sightsavers are launching A Million Miracles.

The aim of A Million Miracles is to raise £30 million to fund sight-restoring procedures by 2017. It is a huge target amount but the difference it would make is life changing for each and every patient. The actual cost of cataract surgery is only £30 for an adult and £50 for a child (adults can be done under a local anaesthetic but little ones require a general). The number of people who’s lives can be revolutionised by this campaign with each and every pound towards the £30 million.

You, me and everyone we know are all invited to be part of the first miracle via live stream.

A Million Miracles, Sightsavers, Malawi

Here’s Mr Winesi and the dates for your diary:

  • 1:30pm GMT on 8th October as one of the few cataract surgeons in Malawi delivers the 5 minute life-changing operation. Hosted by UK YouTuber star Doug Armstong you’ll meet the Mr Winesi, and all the health worker heros delivering this vital work
  • 1:30pm GMT on 9th October as the team remove the bandages and Mr Winesi can see for the very first time. He will be able to see his wonderful wife again, and hold and see his grandson Luca for the very first time.

I am proud to be involved in the Million Miracles campaign, please help me to help spread the word.

What Can You Do To Help?
- Please share this post far and wide to bring as many people as possible see this groundbreaking project unfold.
- Put the 8th and 9th October in your diary & watch the live broadcasts.
- Follow Sightsavers campaign and DONATE here.
- Follow Sightsavers on Twitter and Facebook to stay keep up to date.
- Follow Chris @thinlyspread and #SeeTheMiracle as the campaign conversation gains momentum across the UK!

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The Day We Checked Into The Furchester Hotel

September 21st, 2014 — 11:11pm

This week on Friday 26th September at 5pm the very first episode of The Furchester Hotel airs on CBeebies. We will be watching on Friday afternoon and recording the show because one viewing will not be enough for Diva G. Make sure you tune in and set your recorders too, allow me to tell you why this is brand new CBeebies show is a must see.

Back in May we were lucky enough to be invited to the BBC at Mediacity for an exclusive behind the scenes tour at The Furchester Hotel we learnt all about The Furchester Hotel and met the cast and production team. The Furchester Hotel has been created by CBeebies in partnership with the Sesame Workshop team and is aimed at 3-6 year olds. It is set in an ‘almost’ world-class hotel run by a close-knit family of cheerfully chaotic monsters “The Furchesters” – think Sesame Street meets Fawlty Towers! Here’s Diva G and her BFF checking in at The Furchester Hotel event …
Checking in at The Furchester Hotel
My own nostalgic childhood memories include the characters from Sesame Street and The Muppet Show so I was just as excited as my two little buddies about this show as my beloved favourites, Elmo and The Cookie Monster. There are new faces to meet so let me introduce you to the close-knit family of cheerfully chaotic monsters that run The Furchester Hotel.

Funella FurchesterFirst let me introduce you to Funella Furchester, I could definitely see glimpses of Sybil Fawlty but a furry yellow version! Funella is the owner and proprietor of the hotel which she runs with her husband and daughter and the various staff. She loves her family more than anything else in the world but her job comes a close second. She loves to make her guests happy and will go to extraordinary lengths to cater to all their different tastes. She can be loud and a little daunting in her enthusiasm but is very good hearted. She enjoys the social side of the hotel but gets very upset if anything goes wrong and tends to think that small problems are catastrophes. She also gives good hugs too!

A very special intro to this purple princess, who was without a doubt Diva G’s favourite, allow me to introduce you to Phoebe Furchester-Fuzz. Phoebe is the daughter of Funella and Furgus Fuzz, she is also cousin of Elmo. Phoebe is a highly independent 7yo monster with a quick and creative mind which is always working to come up with solutions to problems. When Phoebe has a particularly inspirational idea, she and Elmo rush to put the plan into action – although they don’t always think through the repercussions. Her most treasured possession was also admired and very much coveted by Diva G and her BFF is her skeleton key necklace.

Meeting Phoebe and her skeleton key

Elmo needs no introduction but to explain why he’s here, this exuberant monster is Phoebe’s cousin and he is on an extended visit to The Furchester Hotel. Elmo is gobsmacked by the hotel and all it has to offer: lift buttons to push, rooms to explore, phones to be answered, lots of new friends to make. Random fact – did you know Elmo is only 3.5yo? I love him even more now! Meeting Elmo was such a highlight for me and the girls we were all fan girling over the little cute red one!

Another beloved favourite of mine is Cookie Monster who has landed his dream job at the Furchester Hotel as room service and dining room waiter. There is plenty of opportunity for cookie advancement as Cookie Monster’s priority remains finding and devouring cookies and he was just as wild, crazy and fun in “real life” as you would expect!

Hugs with Cookie MonsterWho wouldn’t want to be welcomed by these furry arms at The Furchester Hotel? Standing between Funella and Phoebe is Furgus Fuzz, Husband to Funella, dad to Phoebe and he’s holding Isabel the cutest little pink furry monster with a bell on top. I bet you can’t wait to check in to The Furchester Hotel now!

The Furchester Hotel Cast

The scale of this production cannot go unmentioned, the physical size of the set is huge, raised around 4-5 foot off the ground and so detailed, it took my breath away. Raising it allows the puppeteers to deliver their performances standing up, the size and number of puppets was immense, we are talking hundreds of puppet visitors checking in at The Furchester throughout the series. The production team is amazing and all going to huge lengths to capture just a few seconds of footage for an episode, they’ve worked tirelessly for weeks to create an entire series for us to enjoy. Having been allowed a sneak, almost finished, peek at the first show and we really can’t wait to see the finished episode and series.

Between now and Friday we are enjoying the clips and games on the CBeebies website, there’s a new character and game every day to discover behind the window of The Furchester Hotel.

Here’s the trailer for the show ahead of the first episode which airs on Friday 26th September at 5pm on CBeebies.  

1 comment » | Behind the scenes

Lunchbox Inspiration That Cost Less Than School Dinners

September 21st, 2014 — 10:44am

The youngest member of the family has started in reception and is being treated to free school dinners courtesy of the government. Lil H has gone into year 3 and is still a packed lunch kind of kid. But can you make a packed lunch for less than school dinners ? This week I decided to check as I honestly had no idea what his packed lunch cost. School dinners cost £2.10 I’ve costed up what I typically send Lil H to school with and I say you can.

Here’s what a typical lunch box for Lil H looks like and what it costs…

Lunchbox collage

  • Wrap with Dairylea & ham26p
  • Fromage frais37p
  • Fruit squeezy65p
  • Crisps21p
  • Twix finger18p
  • Panda Splash Sports Bottle 33p
  • Lunchbox total£2.00

So that’s how I make mine, how do you do yours? Can you create a lunchbox for even less? Tell me your lunch box secrets!

P.s. I haven’t received any products in relation to this post I wanted to check the cost of what I was putting in Lil H’s lunch box and that it was less than school dinners and thought I’d share it with my readers. Thanks for popping by & reading!

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Back To School: Washing School Uniforms

September 19th, 2014 — 9:27pm

The new school year is well underway  started and with two children now in school uniform my laundry basket is facing new increased demands with the addition of Diva G’s school dresses, skirts and cardigans to the existing mountain Lil H creates of shorts, shirts, jumpers, socks, sports kit etc.

So, how do you wash school uniforms to get the best results?  I’ll be honest I do what I’m told when it comes to washing! Here’s how my mum tells me to do mine by Claire aged *cough* 40 years old!

1. Use a stain remover on any bad stains – Vanish is she who must be obeyed weapon of choice.

2. Before washing turn everything inside out, this really helps to prevent colours fading.

3. Wash separately, divide uniform into similar coloured loads, here’s mine:

  • I always wash jumpers and cardi’s together.
  • Grey school wear such as trousers, skirts, pinafores and grey socks create a load.
  • Coloured polo shirts another.
  • Whites shirts (fasten velcro at neck first to avoid catching) & white socks create my final load.

4. Wash using a cool temperature and gentle cycle, I wash everything at 30° with the exception of whites which I do at 40°

5. Use a mild detergent – less is more, too much detergent can cause clothes to feel and uncomfortable. I generally use liquid detergents in pouches as well as bottles, I have quite a collection, look …

Washing School Uniforms

Here’s my recipe for washing success …

  • Trousers, skirts & pinafores Use dark wash detergent at 30°
  • White shirtsUse white gel capsules & Dr Beckham Glowhite at 40°
  • Coloured polo shirtsUse non bio or colour capsules for those loads with more staining at 30°
  • Jumpers & cardi’sUse dark wash detergent at 30° (can be washed with greys)

5. Add an antibacterial laundry cleanser. Washing at low temperatures cleans clothes but doesn’t kill the bugs and viruses. Those nasties are the things that can keep the school uniform hanging in the wardrobe and your little ones absent from school. I add two capfuls of Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser to the fabric softener drawer to kill 99.9% of bacteria every time you wash.

Victorian drying rack

6. When it comes to drying I avoid the tumble drier whenever possible and line dry but I live in England so I am evangelical about my Victorian pulley drying rack which lives in my utility room. If you have space get one!

7. White shirts and polo shirts I dry hung on hangers and they little very little if any ironing afterwards.

That’s how I do mine, pretty much every day the washing machine is on at Villa Lancaster. Lil H has polo shirts and jumpers which have survived three years well enough to be handed down to Diva G or passed on to friends little boys. I think me and my mum are pretty good when it comes to washing school uniform! How about you? Do have any top tips when it comes to washing school uniforms? Share your tips on a comment or tweet me @Cheshire_Claire

P.s. Thanks to the Dettol PR team for sending me a bottle of Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser I go through about one a month since it came on the market so it is appreciated. Dettol Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser is available at all the usual supermarkets priced at £4.50.

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