Christmas Crafts with Yellow Moon 2014

Christmas Craft Ideas with Yellow Moon 2014

I think I may have mentioned a few times now on this blog how much I love Yellow Moon.  Whatever craft activity we want to do, whatever we want to make, Yellow Moon have something that we can use and always at great value too.  I had already ordered a few bits and pieces from them for some craft projects that I had in mind and then we received a box of festive goodies to try out.

Due to the ridiculous amount of birthdays in December, we have been rather busy and so we haven’t yet had time to try all of the products out but when the children break up on Friday, they will be ideal last minute craft activities to keep them all occupied with next week.

My favourite from the box was the Santa’s Workshop Kits, made up of foam house templates with adhesive stickers to decorate, these kits are fun and easy to make and look really effective.  A and I sat and built one to put on the table over the festive season and I think it looks great. It is also quite good for hiding special treats inside too.

Santa's Workshop Kits

The Wooden House boxes are really clever and with a lid that slides open, you can decorate them however you want and these would make perfect presents to send to friends or family.

wooden house boxesNot only are there lots of craft materials, kits and ideas, but Yellow Moon is also a brilliant site for stocking fillers, small gifts and party bag fillers.  All of the children loved the finger lights which are four different coloured lights that you strap to your fingers.

Finger lightsThe first thing that A noticed when she opened the box were the snow pal mugs which are three small plastic mugs, each with a snowy animal on the front.  No prizes for guessing which colour mug A has picked to use…

christmas cups For more information or ideas, take a look at the Yellow Moon website.


Santa’s Workshop Kits
yellowmoon.org.uk

Wooden House Boxes
yellowmoon.org.uk

Snow Pals Mugs
yellowmoon.org.uk

We were sent the products for the purpose of this post.  All images and opinions are our own.

40 Gifts for Him on his 40th Birthday

I have spent a lot of time this year thinking about my husband’s impending 40th birthday this year, wondering what to do and how to make it special.  He didn’t want a lot of fuss and then Penny from Parentshaped, gave me the fantastic idea of getting him 40 presents to mark the occasion.  I though this was a wonderful idea and got to work.  However, finding 40 different gifts is quite a challenge and I wished that I had started shopping much earlier.  But I did it and it was worth all of the effort involved as my husband was beyond thrilled and loved the variety of the presents and I was able to dispel the myth that buying presents for men is difficult.

40 Gifts for Him on His 40th Birthday

So here is my definitive guide to 40 gifts for him.

First of all here are a few tips;

  • Start early.  If you have a significant birthday coming up, start planning and shopping early.  I made the decision quite late on and had to go on a panic shopping spree a few days before the big day to make sure I had the right number of gifts.
  • Make a list.  A list is useful as it keeps a record of your ideas but is also a place to keep a record of what you have bought and how close to your total you are.
  • Keep to a budget.  Forty presents are a lot and it can get expensive but remember that you don’t have to pay for all of the presents.  Home-made presents are just as nice and you could get the children to chip in and make or bake something special for the big occasion.
  • Collaborate with family and friends.  I did my haul by myself but afterwards a few people said that they would have liked to contribute.  See who wants to make a contribution and see if you can make a couple of the presents really special.

 

Sporty Gifts

My husband loves sport.  Sport of any kind but in particular rugby and football.  The first thing I thought about was tickets to go and watch a match of some sort but as I was on a budget, any premiership matches were too expensive.  He went to see the WASPS a few weeks ago with the boys and they had a fantastic day and all said how much they would like to go and watch them play again and when I looked at tickets for their new home; the Ricoh arena, you could buy a family ticket (two adults and two children) for £35 which I thought was great value.

Magazine subscriptions are a favourite present idea of mine and I managed to pick up a half price subscription to Rugby World magazine for the year which I know both he and my youngest son will enjoy.  Subscription gifts are great as they last long after the birthday and it is nice to receive something nice in the post every few weeks.  You can also buy digital subscriptions for a lot of magazines now too which might be preferable.

Rugby World Magazine

Sport also offers endless possibilities in the form of clothing, memorabilia and equipment.  Rugby and football shirts can be pricey but there are so many different products on sale online and in the shops that you are bound to find something that will suit.  There are always sporting autobiographies on sale and even though he isn’t a big reader, my husband loves these.  I picked up Roy Keane’s autobiography quite in one of our local supermarkets and he seems to be enjoying it.

If you are buying for someone who prefers doing sport to watching it, why not buy a voucher for a sporting experience; a lesson, a session, gym membership maybe?  If they are into one sport in particular, is there any equipment that you could buy.

Tech/Gadgets

People often think that men are difficult to buy for but I think that there is so much choice these days, that you can treat the men in your life quite easily.  Gadgets and Tech products are always popular and I have gathered a few ideas for the man who has almost everything.

Gadget Gifts for Men

My husband used to pride himself at being able to get up early in the morning, but years of very early mornings and general parenting has changed all of that.  The Lumie Bodyclock is a very clever little device.  It is essentially an alarm clock that wakes you up naturally using natural light combined with gentle natural sounds to wake you gradually from your sleep and gets you off to a positive start to the day as it encourages a good mood, productivity and energy levels throughout the day.
Lumie Bodyclock Alarm Clock

The Lumie Bodyclock Active also has sound functions such as wave sounds that can help to lull you off to sleep along with a white noise function that can mask any noise that might prevent sleep and also natural morning sounds such as a dawn chorus or a rooster to encourage your natural wake up.

Lumie Bodyclock Active 250

Easy to set up, the Lumie Bodyclock 250 has many different functions too; a radio, different time settings for the wake up light in the morning, sun ray effect, dimmable bedside light, security light and night-light function.  It can also be used to complement a light box for SAD sufferers.

We have been using the Lumie Bodyclock Active 250 for a few days now and it really does bring a sense of calm to out mornings which is very welcome.  The light comes on very gradually until fully lit, it fills the room with a gentle and natural light and we have it set to a dawn chorus when it is time to get up.  Find out more about the Lumie Bodyclock Active and the other Lumie products on their website.

An EasyLock is another clever little gadget which has amused my husband no end.  It is a handy portable lock that is really easy to use.  To use the EasyLock, you open the door, place the stainless steel latch into the lock plate in the door frame and then you press the lock down firmly.  Check the door is secure and the job is done.  Designed with students, travellers or people who rent in mind, this is a really useful thing to have.  My husband has locked most doors in the house and keeps joking about locking himself away.  Find out more about the EasyLock here.

The EasyLock

 

Clothes

Clothes are always a good present for men, let’s face it, they always need clothes and if I didn’t buy clothes for my husband, he would end up wearing nothing.  I have been lucky enough to find two excellent websites for men’s clothing.

TShirt Grill Website

TShirt Grill is a brilliant website and one that I will definitely shop from in the future.  Not just for men, but for women and juniors too, TShirt Grill are “dedicated to giving its customers access to exclusive cutting edge clothing via the internet…..the latest styles and designs at real value for money prices.”  They have the most amazing selection of t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts all screen printed with designs from TV programs, films, music, sports and with funny slogans.  The range is fantastic and I could have chosen lots not only for my husband but also for the teen who was quite keen on the designs that I chose for my husband.

TShirt Grill T-shirts

I opted first of all for two of the many Star Wars themed t-shirts and then I couldn’t resist the Captain America t-shirt as this is another favourite in this house.  The favourite was the Keep Calm and Come to the Dark Side T-shirt which has already been worn and washed and I am really impressed with the quality of the t-shirts and they wash and wear really well.

TShirt Grill Star Wars Selection

TShirt Grill is well worth a visit and the prices are really reasonable too.

Staying on the clothing theme, Guide London is a very different style as it is men’s designer clothing but again I was really impressed with the range and the quality of clothes on offer on this site.

Guide London

My husband wears a lot of shirts and generally wears white shirts to work every day, so I was looking for something with a bit of colour which he could wear for work or going out in.  Guide London have an amazing selection and they are all really unusual in design with nice detailing.  I chose the Mini Geo Printed Shirt and it is lovely; patterned but not too bright, a great colour, excellent quality and really smart looking.  If you are looking for something really smart or special, I recommend a visit to Guide London as they will have the perfect thing.

Guide London

Socks might not seem like the most exciting present for a special birthday but as my husband’s socks seem to magically disappear, he is always happy to receive socks as a present.  The socks from London Sock Co are no ordinary socks, they offer socks that are designed to be soft, great quality and durable and they also have a Sock Club which is a unique monthly sock subscription service.

London Sock Co

 

We were sent a pair of Simply Sartorial Skye Blue socks from their exclusive David Gandy collection and my husband was very impressed with the soft feel to the socks and said that these were the most comfortable socks he had ever worn.  Find out more about the London Sock Co here.

Personalised

Personalised gifts are a great idea for significant birthdays as they are a lovely reminder of the day.  I knew that I wanted a few personalised gifts within the 40 as they would be something a little bit special.  My first port of call was one of my favourite sites; Getting Personal.  I reviewed for Getting Personal earlier in the year and we received a personalised football book to review for Father’s day and so I knew that they would have lots of brilliant 40th present ideas and they did.  There are so many brilliant ideas but in the end, I decided on a pair of cufflinks.

Engraved Cufflinks Getting Personal

Not just any cufflinks, they are engraved with EST and the year of birth.  They come in a lovely gift box and at £19.99 these make a fantastic gift idea.

Another of my favourite sites for gift ideas is Not On The High Street with so many unique and original ideas, I found the perfect thing; a personalised 40th birthday typographic print.  You add the person’s name and date of birth and then up to seventeen words that describe that person.  The results are stunning and we were both thrilled with the results.

personalised 40th birthday typographic art

This is the ultimate personalised gift and a lovely thing to create for someone.  The print measures 40cm x 40 cm and I opted for the unmounted, unframed version and then needed to find a suitable frame to put it on.

Luckily, eFRAME came to the rescue and asked if I was interested in reviewing one of their custom-made frames.  This is something I have never bought before and I was amazed how easy it was to find the frame that I wanted.  eFRAME offer a range of services; custom frames of a huge range of sizes and styles, ready-made frames, a new print and frame service where you can have your images made in the frames which arrive ready to hang, mounts, mirrors and you can even design your own.

eFRAME website

I knew that I wanted a black frame and by inputting the size of the print, I was offered a whole range of different frames of different thicknesses and finishes.  Ordering was easy and the frame arrived within a few days and was extremely well packaged and the frame was in pristine condition.   The print looks perfect and I would absolutely use eFRAME again as I am very impressed with the range of options and the prices.

eFRAME

 

My last personalised gift is something rather different but it made me chuckle and my husband certainly smiled when he opened this present.  U Star Novels offer you the chance to star in your very own novel.  From classics to romance novels, there are lots of books to choose from and whichever you choose, yourself and your partner and friends can feature as main characters throughout the novel.  I loved this idea and knew that this would be a truly unique idea. The personalised romance novels range from romantic and sensual through to more erotic selections and once you have decided on your story, you answer a few questions about the characters you want included; names, nicknames, hair and eye colour and preferences and they will do the rest to literally create your very own novel.

U Star Novels

Fever in France appealed to me as it was a James Bond style tale of intrigue and romance.  This is a really unusual gift but it is a really fun idea and it is great fun to see our names in print like that.

U Star Novels Excerpt (Fever in France)U Star Novels Fever in France

Music

I can’t remember the last time that I bought someone music as a present.  Less and less people buy CD’s these days as the world of music has turned to digital downloads.  Albumcards is a fantastic new service that enables you to send personalised greeting card (the album cover) which contains an album download in the card itself.  How clever is that?

albumcards

The Albumcards site is very easy to use.  There is a huge selection of albums to choose from.  Once you have chosen your album, you decide on a message to write on the card.  Add the name and address that you want the card sent to, pay and the job is done.  The card arrives with your personal message inside and at the bottom, there is a download code.  The recipient has to set up a free Albumcards account and they can download their album and the music can be downloaded onto any advice and is compatible with Android and Apple devices (they plan to release an IOS app next year)

Albumcards

 

If you are looking for a gift for a music lover, this is the perfect thing.  We received the latest albums from Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran and I can recommend both albums too.

Food and Drink

A lot of the forty gifts that I gave were edible.  My husband loves chocolate and so it was easy to pick up lots of different bars and boxes of chocolates that he loves.  This is a great way of filling the gap too if you have exhausted your gift ideas and need something inexpensive to make up the remaining numbers.

chocolate

A meal out somewhere is also a nice gift or maybe a hamper, lots of places allow you to make up your own hampers which I think is a fantastic idea as that way you can fill it with things that you know will be used.  How about a nice bottle of wine or something stronger?  You can also make some edible presents with or without the children.

Super Heroes

Every dad wants to be a super hero, don’t they? My husband loves super heroes and has spent many years teaching the children about his favourite  super heroes.

Thanks largely to Marvel, super heroes are back with a vengeance.  Every where you look, there is Marvel merchandise and I know that both my teenage son and husband love the whole Marvel concept and a lot of the products would be very well received.  One of my favourite sites when I am looking for presents for men is Truffle Shuffle, which have the most amazing range of products and an extremely impressive selection of al things Marvel.

Marvel for Men

 

I managed to pick up some rather cool superhero socks from Sports Direct and this gorgeous notebook from another site that I will be revisiting; Two Little Boys.

superhero

 

So there you have it, just a few of the forty presents that I gave to my husband for his fortieth.  I am really pleased with the selection of gifts and he absolutely loved them all.  I just hope that he isn’t going to expect this every year.

 

This post is made up a mixture of products that I bought and were sent for review and some ideas.  All opinions are my own.  A huge thank you to all companies that contributed gifts to review, I couldn’t have done it without you.

Too many birthdays

When I first met my husband and we were still in the ‘young and in love’ phase, we laughed when we realised that our birthdays were within a few days of each other.  We are very similar and think in very similar ways, so of course it was meant to be.  Back then, it didn’t matter, we spoilt each other rotten and described it as our ‘birthday week’ and it was lovely.

As we shared a collective love of Christmas, December was our special month and when we got engaged (in December) we decided that it was only natural to get married in December too.

As the children came, December became busier and suddenly the month was filled with Christmas things for the children.  We still celebrated our birthdays but as the children grew, our birthdays became less important.

When I fell pregnant for the last time, my husband and I knew that this would be the last child and we both smiled at each other knowingly when we were told the due date.  December of course.  As I was having a C-section, I was told that she would be born on My birthday, the 11th.  I didn’t mind but one of the consultants did.  Oh no, we needed separate birthdays, so the date was moved to the 10th.  Two days after Daddy’s and one day before mine.

Birthday week changed from then on. A’s birthday takes precedence of course and I wouldn’t want it any other way but by the time we have made a fuss of Daddy’s birthday, had parties and presents for A’s birthday, I am pretty much birthdayed out by the time we get to mine.

This year was no different.  It was Daddy’s 40th so we made a big fuss and gave him 40 presents for his special day.  A was 5 which isn’t known as a significant birthday but it is now.  A has been waiting to be 5 forever and for some reason, being 5 represents being a proper big girl.  Presents, parties, and then mummy went to London on her birthday.  On her own.  It was bliss.  That was quite a nice birthday and I really enjoyed it.

There are some disadvantages to having three birthdays in December though.  Ridiculous amounts of cake.  Yes, I know that doesn’t sound like a disadvantage but you really can have too much cake.  Where to put the cards is another.  Three sets of birthday cards plus all of the Christmas cards that have started arriving, is a huge stress. We have lines upon lines in our living room and we rotate who gets to put their cards on the mantelpiece yearly, so that each of us has a turn (you wouldn’t think this would matter, but my children have memories like elephants and remind me whose turn it is each year). The cost is also an issue.  I dread to think how much we spend in an average December with Christmas and birthdays.

When I have discussed this with friends, they suggest one of us having a celebration in the summer but that wouldn’t be the same would it?  I have suggested going on holiday for two weeks in December but that isn’t really practical with school and work.  For now, we just have to accept that there are too many birthdays in December and look forward to the calm of January.  Except.. hang on, there is another birthday in January too.

There really are too many birthdays.

Too many birthdays

ASUS Zenfone 5 LTE Review #ZentasticXmas

I have been hinting about getting a new phone for Christmas and guess what, someone was listening as I received the ASUS Zenfone 5 LTE last week as a bit of an early present.  It has been ages since I had a new phone and my old phone was looking a little old and tired, fed up with battling with my constant use and the smeary fingers of my children.  ASUS is a new brand to me and I have never owned an android phone before, so I was curious to see what the phone was like.

ASUS Zenfone 5 LTE Review

First Impressions

ASUS are known as the budget smart phone brand, so I was pleased to find that the phone didn’t look like a ‘budget’ model at all.  The RRP is around £150 for the Zenfone 5.  It is quite a big phone measuring at just under 6 inches in height and just under 3 inches in width, it seems a lot bigger than any other phone that I have ever owned but it is extremely light which is a nice surprise.

Like a child in a sweet shop, I couldn’t wait to get it out of the box and have a play and I found it really easy to use and set up.  I quickly read through the user guide which is very short and off I went.

Setting Up

The Zenfone 5 LTE is ridiculously easy to set up and I was astonished to find how quickly I was moving around the different functions of the phone.  It has a touch screen and is really responsive and once I had signed into my Google Account and synchronised the phone with it, most of the apps that I use on a regular basis were there and ready for me to use.  In fact, I only had to download Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the WordPress apps to ensure that all of my go-to apps were at hand.  These downloaded apps all appear on the home screen so that you can access them really easily.  Downloading new apps is simple thanks to the Play Store which offers a range of apps that don’t disappoint and the children quickly realised that they would have to add a few games to my phone and every time my back was turned, they had downloaded a few games.  All for my benefit apparently.

ASUS Zenfone 5 LTE  Apps Screenshot

Within minutes, I was up and running.  I used the micro sim card from my old phone and so my contacts were there and this phone also adds contacts from your Gmail account into your People contacts app which is quite nice as I can access a much wider range of people; real and online,  at the touch of a button.

One thing that you notice as soon as you start using the phone is the What Next which appears when you swipe away from the home screen.  This is a list of upcoming events such as meetings, birthdays, the weather and is a useful reminder list that appears on the lock screen and as someone who is always forgetting things, this is a really useful feature.

The Camera

Covent Garden at Christmas

By far my favourite feature of the ASUS Zenfone 5 LTE is the camera.  At first glance, it seems like a normal camera and it takes great quality photos with autofocus and a LED flash.  It is easy to access the camera and you can swipe the camera icon on the lock screen to access quickly on the go.  Then I discovered the different camera settings and as someone who takes a lot of photos, I was very impressed.  There are 13 different settings that are all accessible at the touch of a button.

ASUS Zenfone 5 LTE Camera Settings Screenshot

  • Auto
  • Time Rewind
  • HDR
  • Panorama
  • Night
  • Low light
  • Selfie
  • Miniature
  • Depth of Field
  • Smart Remove
  • All Smiles
  • Portrait
  • GIF Animation

The Zenfone 5 has two built-in cameras, with the main 8-megapixel PixelMaster camera for professional-looking photos. This camera boasts a backside-illumination (BSI) sensor and wide-aperture f/2.0, 5-element lens with exclusive ASUS PixelMaster technology to capture images that are on par with most standalone digital cameras; while the 2-megapixel front camera comes with an f/2.8 lens. PixelMaster technology improves camera performance.

I have only had the phone for a few days so I haven’t had a chance to try all of the different functions, but in those few days I have managed to take over 100 photos as the decorations are up and we are in a festive mood, which always makes me want to take lots of photos.  Auto is great and I have been pleased with the results.

Auto Focus ASUS Zenfone 5 LTE

Depth of Field is amazing and really helps to create some special and very professional photos with a sharp focus on part of the image, with the rest of the image being blurred out.  I love this setting and it is one that I will use a lot.

ASUS Zenfone 5 LTE Depth of Field Camera Setting

During the darker afternoons and evenings, the Low light is a really useful setting and I have been capturing some lovely festive shots of decorations with this setting.

Christmas lights Low light setting

 

Low light came setting ASUS Zenfone 5 LTE

Low light camera setting ASUS Zenfone 5

The Selfie setting is fun and although it takes a bit of getting used to, I have now mastered the art and have managed to take some lovely photos with my ‘babies’.  For the selfies, you have to use the rear camera, you tell the camera how many faces it is looking for and it beeps to tell you that it has found the correct number of faces and when it is taking the photo.  You can see the results for yourself.

Selfie Camera Setting ASUS Zenfone 5 LTE

Selfie Camera Setting ASUS Zenfone 5 LTE 2

I am looking forward to experimenting more with the different camera settings and what better time than over the festive period as there will be plenty of great photo opportunities.

LEGO Reindeer at Covent Garden

 

The perfect Christmas present?

Yes, absolutely.  There are so many useful features in  this phone that I haven’t yet had time to try out.  In the few days that I have used it, I have become quickly accustomed to it.  I spent a day in London and I took the Zenfone along.  I was using the phone all day and the battery needed recharging on the journey back (the charger is very nifty and easy to pack into your bag), so the battery life was reasonable.

It does everything that I need from a phone and more and the camera really is a bonus.  For the price, this is a budget smart phone but it rivals many of its much higher priced competitors and if you are looking for a present with a wow factor and you are on a budget, then this is definitely the phone for you.

Merry Christmas

I was sent this phone for the purpose of the review.  All opinions and images are my own.  

Stressy Mummy FacebookStressy Mummy twitterStressy Mummy Google+Stressy Mummy pinterest Stressy Mummy bloglovinStressy Mummy Stumble UponStressy Mummy emailStressy Mummy RSS 
Follow on Bloglovin

Categories

Sign up for Email updates

TOTS100 - UK Parent Blogs
TOTS100

My Instagram

Don't let the cat out of the bag!
Rugby face
Enjoying  his  pot of melted chocolate at Cadbury World #ACadburyWorldXmas
We had a lovely time at Cadbury World today #ACadburyWorldXmas
Brotherly love is ... Tying your borther's shoe laces
Loved the elaborate stalls at the German Christmas market in Birmingham last night
White chocolate hot chocolate from Costa nom nom
I Write for Brit Mums