I don’t know when this even became a thing but I love it. Arlo is an only child so I didn’t want to go totally insane (for once) but we had a lovely start to our day in the front room with this little collection of festive themed children’s snacks.
What better way to mark the arrival of our new house guest than with a breakfast fit for elves!
To start we had chocolate spread on toast – cutting the tree shape out with a cookie cutter and then adding a few sprinkles – I think we will repeat this one a few times through the month…. the magic sprinkles make everything taste wonderful apparently and it’s easy to mix this idea up with different shapes and spreads.
Our mini donuts were simply dipped in icing and then a big jar of sprinkles – I wouldn’t normally pop this kind of food on a breakfast but it was a special occasion…. next time we do this is will be for an afternoon tea or movie night.
Snowman strawberries …. Sliced and then stacked with white marshmallows with a little icing – another elf sized treat for the North Pole breakfast and this one was the first Arlo decided to tuck in to. I think we’ll be repeating this one and trying our more festive fruit snack ideas too.
The reaction from Arlo was entirely worth it and he’s totally prepared now to be good throughout December knowing that Santa is on his way.
This blog contains PR products previously gifted to us
We have just come home from a little expedition to the postbox and I feel as though the countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun. We started this morning with the elf arrival and a Northpole Breakfast – I wasn’t sure how Arlo would react to it all.
He was slightly overwhelmed if I’m honest but I’m enjoying the concept of the elf watching him and telling Santa when he has been good – it’s going to work wonders! We introduced our elf in a hot air balloon which I purchased from a local business – Inflation Creation Events
We’re working on a project with Design Bundles on Instagram and so have been sent lots of different festive themed activities to complete with our Elf and the first one we started with was writing our letter to Santa.
Arlo took this task very seriously and got to work – insisting on using red and green colours to complete his picture. Along with his little Santa pen I gave him a little help to fill in the details and then we popped our letter in to an envelope and addressed it to Santa.
Royal Mail have an address for Santa and if you write a letter before 11th December and pop it in the post with a stamp then there’s a chance you will get a reply. So of course we went out for a walk, purchased a stamp and popped our letter in the postbox and sent it on its way.
Arlo doesn’t know this yet but I have already ordered him a letter here from Santa ready to give to him in the next few days which has been sent to us from the Lapland Mail room
This lovely letter arrived shortly after I completed a simple online form – prices start from £8.95 and include a personalised letter, some festive themed activities and also a Certificate to confirm that you’re on the nice list.
I can’t wait to open all of this with him, we are entirely absorbed by the Christmas spirit here and having the best time together at home. I think we might have to put the Christmas tree up next!
Adding a Garland to a little space in your home adds an instant festive touch and I have two ideas here which are simple and make the perfect little feature.
Felt holly and Berry Garland
You will need:
An A4 sheet of green felt
An A4 sheet of red felt
Holly Leaf template
A needle and thread
The process is super simple – and you know I love an easy Christmas craft. Once you have your template – simply trace and cut your leaves and circles from felt. This is something you can really take your time with, and let the older kids safely develop their dexterity skills. Alternatively you can fold your felt and cut out a few at a time.
Then take your needle and use a simple running stitch to thread through it all. I use this stitch because it’s again a super easy craft activity for kids and it’s also easy to adjust the position of the leaves and berries as you hang it in place.
Clay star Garland
This is another of my clay Christmas craft projects and again really simple. I can’t quite believe how much I have made from one pack of clay! As per all of my other clay projects – these all begin by rolling, cutting and drying clay. I made ten stars (one went on the Christmas tree) but I wish I’d made twenty!
Once the clay was dry I used a chalk pen to colour them bright yellow on one side and then threaded these on to a candy cane twine and knotted them about 7cm apart. This little set has been draped across various centre pieces to add a splash of colour.
Here are two more of the cutest additions to my clay craft projects. If you’re following me on social media you can see that I set myself a challenge of seeing just how much I could create from one pack of clay…. and so far we have shared instructions for a Christmas tree decoration and also a ginger bread man Garland – everything started out life in the same way. I have lots of really easy Christmas crafts for you to try out which are pintrest worthy and make great DIY gifts
You will need:
Tools for details
So as before roll out and press your clay in to shapes and leave them in a warm place for a couple of days to harden. Make sure you poke holes to hang your string. This is an activity which we have come back to several cold afternoons – each time we pick one or two shapes to decorate from our dry pieces and spend hours crafting.
We painted our robins with red paint for their iconic chest and then added a dab of white and black paint for eyes…. the natural terracotta lends itself really well for this project but we felt like these needed a little extra oomph and after a rummage around the craft cupboard I found the gold leaf we used previously on the pinecone star
So of course we applied this carefully to the edges of the robins with PVA glue before adding natural twine to hang them up…. this beautiful pair of robins is being sent to Arlo’s nanny and grandparents because they have made acquaintance with a lovely Robin who comes to visit them every day just like we do here and it reminds us all that even though we can’t be in the same place right now we are always in each other’s thoughts.
Here I am in my early thirties and facing 2021 as a single mum… to be honest I did start 2020 in the same way too but this last year has been a bit of a write off for any social interaction….. let alone dating!
Happy being single (or am I?)
I’m perfectly happy being single most of the time but there’s some occasions where I think it might be nice to have a bit of companionship, someone to watch a movie with – because Arlo only ever wants to watch animated stuff like paw patrol and that gets a bit tedious for the best of us after a couple of episodes – never mind a whole year of lockdown.
What will dating look like in 2021?
I have various friends who love to play matchmaker and in the past have set me up on blind dates and have suggested speed dating. I could tell you some funny stories from my past but I’ll have to save those for another day.
Thinking about online dating
For the last few weeks I have been stuck at home and thinking about online dating….. I watched this documentary for research purposes as I haven’t done this since my early twenties and it’s changed quite a bit – my first worry is creating a profile picture – let’s face it, in today’s online dating world people swipe left… (or is it right?) based on a quick glance and so your first picture needs to be a good one, I found myself sitting at home and trying to find the best light to take a picture because let’s face it the way I look now doesn’t match my Facebook profile picture from 2015.
Dating as a single mum
Then there’s the dilemma of being a single mum…. does this put people off? How do I approach all the different tick boxes to set up my profile….. I’m always going to be 100% honest about myself, my appearance and my circumstances because that’s just me but then how do I decide what I’m looking for? How do I figure out who the catfish are?
Looking for the perfect man
Here I am thinking that the gingerbread man I just made is probably my ideal man….. he’s sweet and doesn’t answer back and you can’t bite their heads off if you get fed up of them – but honestly how do I know what kind of guy I want to date until I meet him? I’m a strong believer in human attraction being based on more than appearances… but at the same time if I reveal that I love watching crime thriller movies and have a penchant for playing poker I worry about the kind of person that will attract.
Asking friends for help
I’ve been sending my thoughts in to the girls group chat…. where all major life decisions are discussed as a collective and suddenly one of my friends revealed that their mum has been online dating with some great success…. so we had to schedule in a video call…. I mean who would have thought I’d be taking advice from a pensioner on how to find a date in 2021?!
Sharing experiences of online dating
Jean (not her real name) is a lively woman in her early sixties and her lovely daughter (one of my besties who will also remain anonymous) set up a profile for her at Lancashire Dating as she hadn’t been on a date in over a decade, and lockdown was getting tedious, repetitive and boring. Jean, her daughter and myself sat one evening at our laptops chatting to each other about the kinds of things gentlemen have sent to her in dm’s. I have to say it’s a long time since I ever laughed so much. In the end it was Jean who had to politely excuse herself from the conversation as she had scheduled in a call with a new friend.
Advice for online dating
Jean did have some fantastic advice. Oozing with a new found confidence after so many positive experiences with online dating she said the best thing you can possibly do is to be true to yourself, to also approach things with a sense of humour, not to take it all too seriously and interestingly to also not put all your eggs in to one basket…. she also said that if you like the look of someone’s profile then it’s okay to be the one to send thefirst message….. it’s the 21st century after all.
Single and ready to mingle
So here I am… Lavania, single mum, career woman and creative blogger from Birmingham ready for West Midlands dating. Let’s just hope that Boris opens the pubs by the time I have found someone I want to head out for a drink with! I’m going to get Christmas out of the way, and then toast in the new year by activating my online dating profile. If you have any tips, advice or stories please share in the comments.
These delightful little fellows are made from air dry clay, after I challenged myself to see how much I could create using one pack! One of many really easy Christmas crafts and it’s wonderful to crate pintrest worthy DIY Christmas gifts
To make these little fellows you will need:
Terracotta air dry clay
Gingerbread man cookie cutters
A wooden skewer or cocktail stick
String to hang them up.
Wool, pipe cleaners or ribbon scraps for scarves.
Roll out your clay to no larger than a centimetre thickness and use cookie cutters to stamp out your shapes. I went for four big and five little shapes – I like an odd number so I know where the centre of my Garland will be.
Use a skewer to mark our holes to hang the string and then add details to your gingerbread men… we used two sizes and added wiggly lines for icing on the arms and legs, plus buttons.
Leave these to dry for a couple of days in a warm place – it helps to check on them and turn them over.
Once they are dry you can stick your buttons on and use paint pens to add in the face details and colour in the icing. I love how the terracotta clay is the perfect colour. I then added loops to hang them up with candy cane string.
I decided to quickly do a chain of 20 crochet single stitches to make these guys some little scarves to add some texture using scraps of brightly coloured wool. You could have a go at crochet or paint these on or even use pipe cleaners – whatever’s in your craft stash
Once ready I strung these guys up on to normal twine and popped them up above my fireplace.
There’s nothing more fun than working with clay to make “stuff” – it’s basically a step up from play-doh and you can make really beautiful things is just a few simple steps. In fact I decided to challenge myself to see just how much we could achieve with one pack of terracotta clay. I have lots of really easy Christmas crafts to try but this is a favourite.
For this craft you will need:
Cookie cutters in the shape of a tree and a star
A rolling pin
A wooden skewer
First things first roll out your clay and use your cookie cutters to create your shapes. This is the most fun part for Arlo and sometimes we do go a little off piste with the creativity. I sit beside him and lay each piece carefully down on a sheet of grease proof paper – and make little holes in the right places for them to hang.
I use a skewer, alphabet stampers and other random kitchen implements to make marks in to our clay – so for the tree we poked in a few random holes to place the buttons as baubles. Then everything gets left to thoroughly dry. This takes about 2/3 days in a warm spot in the house.
Once our clay was dry (and you can tell as it changes colour slightly) we got to work with some paints: green to paint the tree, gold for the star and some lights and then we finally stuck the buttons in to the little dents before tying everything together with candy cane string.
We have so many little pieces of clay to paint and decorate that this is something we can pull out on a rainy day to do. We have been working on our gingerbread people for quite a long time and I think we have enough for a full Garland… not to mention some other festive shapes and decorations too.
Sending Christmas cards is a bit of a fading tradition, but for us it’s a chance to get started on a mammoth craft session. Something to do on a rainy afternoon. I like to get Arlo involved with an array of craft materials and we just have fun. For this first project I drew a string of fairy lights on to some recycled card and he is sticking the Pom poms on to match. An easy Christmas craft to try out at home.
I’ve always thought Arlo’s art work is amazing and like most proud parents will display any splodge of paint proudly on my mantle piece however I know that this kind of thing doesn’t really resonate with people on the receiving end. This next toddler Christmas card making project is one we bring out every year – he’s using bows dipped in green and red paint and printing patterns straight on to card stock.
To make all of these masterpieces gift worthy I like to add a quote, pun or sentiment. This is the little finishing touch to make his designs come to life. I have to wait until Arlo is completely finished and then for the front of each card I work out the shape of his crafts and try to wrap text to fit around using my silhouette software. I then print straight on to a sheet of A4 card stock. I’m careful to place the text on the right hand side of the screen as I’m designing so I can fold the card and it’s in the exact place it needs to be so I can stick Arlo’s masterpieces straight on.
This project is a super simple one – all you need to do is wrap strips of green paper around a cardboard tree shape and then glue and stick your decorations on to match. We have repeated this activity with all sorts of scraps of ribbon and paper and different embellishments. I used a font called cinnamon sticks on this example and (even if I do say so myself) it looks really professional.
My handwriting is terrible and I get arm ache when we have such a big family to write out cards for so I use different typefaces together to fit the quotes I’m using and again I print off the words on to card stock, and stick these to the inside of my cards. This is one thing which I like to do add a few little extra touches – a sentiment, or a funny pun works wonders. I can usually fit six on to one sheet of A4 paper.
This year I’ve gone for this cheeky little text which I hope makes everyone have a little giggle when they open their cards – the word “Christmas” is in a new favourite font of mine called Margaret River…. I like to play with mixing and matching different typefaces from bundles and you can create all sorts of fab effects.
Arlo also goes to nursery and swimming lessons and all sorts of other activity groups – (the kid has a better social life than me) we have always sent out Christmas cards to everyone. He’s not able to sign his name yet and I made the rookie error of giving him a crayon the first year we did this and he made a huge mess. So this year I have designed him his own stickers.
I showed Arlo a variety of different pictures and we opted for the “tree Rex” which he thinks is hilarious. I used apps on my phone to edit the images and then I added “merry Christmas” and “love from Arlo” in one of font bundles script fonts . I print and cut these out using my cameo so he can pop these inside his cards and we can also use these to seal envelopes and add to gift tags on presents too. He still adds his little squiggle, but at least the recipient knows who it’s from. They add a little personal touch and look really cool too.
When it comes to close family members I always like to go the extra mile and create something really special. This year I have made Arlo and his cousins a card based on the “Christmas Eve jingle” – The idea is that across the world at 6pm kids are going to stand on their doorsteps and ring their bells (a bit like we did the clap for carers for the NHS in the summer). It’s a fabulous idea and I wanted to make something to mark the occasion.
I have created these cards using two different fonts – first of all there’s “Arlo believes” in a script style which I have applied in vinyl to a little gift tag and then attached a bell with candy cane string and used the tag’s original twine to attach it to the actual card.
I then used a new font “Margaret river” to print out ‘jingle bells’ – and then have cut this out and popped it on to card stock. This is a really simple way to to create a card and I just love that it’s interactive and will evoke some Christmas magic. I think I’ll be adding mine to the Christmas Eve box and I can’t wait to see his reaction.