Saturday, 31 December 2011

Oh My, What a year!

Wow...What a year it has been for The Syders! So much has changed, we have had a busy year of  concerts, red carpets, days out, BBQ's, long summer walks, new friendships and holidays. However, we have also suffered some heartache as we lost our Nan in September.

To be honest we have had more highs than lows and I always try to focus more on the positives. My eldest Brother emigrated to Canada and I am so proud of him for achieving his life long dream. I always knew he would do it and I hope they have a fantastic life out there. For me here in the UK I have been presented with some wonderful blog opportunities received from some lovely PR's that I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of, So Thanks to all of you for including The Syders.
So I would love to share some of our year in photo's.

We began the year by attending Justin Bieber's movie premiere of Never Say Never at the O2. That day we met Lisa & Mario from Big Brother and were treated to red carpet treatment.

We had a lovely day trip into London to visit Kensington Gardens.

We got tickets for Justin Biebers concert at the O2 for our Daughters 11th birthday.

We celebrated Papa Syders 40th.

And our eldest Child's 21st.

We watched Prince William and Kate get hitched. 

My eldest Brother and his family emigrated to Canada.

We left old school and started a new one (Big School)

We became the new owners of Bertha The Retro Caravan.

I got a new tattoo, new camera...

And a gorgeous new Nephew. 

We lost our Beautiful, funny Nan, who we miss terribly. Being my Mum's Mum I particularly miss her as she was a huge link to my Mum and would frequently talk to me about her. Nan was the only person I felt I could talk to about Mum as much as I wanted without ever feeling like I was being a bore because she loved to mention her as much as me.

It was a year of 'First's' for our Granddaughter as she rode her bike without stabilisers, learnt to roller skate, ice skate and lost her first milk tooth (now she is 'Gappy' just like Grandad.)

We went to see Justin Bieber for the third time this year as he switched on the Christmas lights at Westfield Stratford...
The things we do for our kids! 

Lastly we had a fantastic break at Center of our favourite places.

Hope you have enjoyed sharing our year. I'd like to say a massive Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate every visit, every comment and every new Friend I make.
Here's to a Wonderful 2012!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

My Christmas Swap Parcels

I took part in two parcel swaps this year. The first one is The bloggers Secret Santa hosted by t*rexes and tiaras. I was so excited when I received my beautifully wrapped parcel (all hand printed) that I struggled to contain myself.

Inside the parcel was a gorgeous vintage jug filled with choccy and a fabulous handmade Christmas card. Whoever my Secret Santa was Thank you so much, you picked such a perfect gift...I love it!

Next swapsie was another festive swap hosted by Lakota over at Faith Hope and Charity Shopping. My swapping partner was the lovely Geraldine over at Sky - blu - pink. I'm so thrilled we were partnered up because I have made a lovely new Friend all Thanks to Lakota for putting us together. Geraldine picked gifts that are so perfect for me and just by reading my blog she knew exactly what I would love.

I have a very useful hook bag and some pretty new crochet hooks, a fantastic crochet pattern book full of food patterns. 

I cant wait to make these scrummy desserts, especially the ice cream cone.

Some brilliant Christmas decoration patterns which I will be making for next Christmas and a lovely wooden tree decoration.

A bag of tasty sweet cherries (which yes I opened straight away and tucked into. A pair of pretty gardening gloves which I happen to be in desperate need of and a packet of very clever plant markers that Ive never seen before.

And lastly a gorgeous little bag handmade by Geraldine and made in a lovely Cherry fabric with a fab badge. I love every item, so Thanks Geraldine...You are a star! 

Want to see the parcels I sent to Geraldine? Pop over to her blog Sky - blu - pink and check out her gifts I picked for her.

A massive Thank you to Charlotte & Lakota for hosting such fun swapsies x

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas with The Syders

We have had a wonderful Christmas this year. We have baked, crocheted, shopped, wrapped, laughed, cried, sang, danced and laughed some more. We watched all the soaps, good game shows and magical movies on TV. We partied, and our sides ached as we laughed the following morning as we recalled the previous nights events. We had guests and we were guests. It was exhausting and exhilating and it was worth all the time and energy we put into our preparations. But most important we were together as a family and I cherish every memory made this year.

 Roll on NYE!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Gallery - Christmas Past

Christmas past is a strange one for me, its full to the brim of Happy memories but it also reminds me of the people who are no longer with us. My Mum, Aunt Toot, My Grandparents and my Nan who we recently lost in September. 

 (Aunt Toot, Auntie Margaret, Nan & my Youngest Brother)

Nan, Grandad & Aunt Toot spent every Christmas with us up until we lost Aunt Toot, Grandad then Mum. After Mum passed our family just kind of evaporated. Mum was the anchor, the one that kept the family together. Her Brothers and Sister were important to her...she loved them all and always made sure that her kids had regular contact with them. Christmas time being the biggest get together, everyone gathered at Mums place.
(Grandad, My second son & Me 1991)

Mum was the most disorganised person you could ever meet at Christmas time - never putting the tree up before Christmas Eve or remembering where she had hidden the presents or if there was a Turkey buried at the bottom of the freezer that she had possibly purchased weeks before. 

 (Mum & my youngest Brother)

People were just drawn to her and our home. People loved her and she loved them back with all her heart. Her genuine love for her family and Friends, her warmth and funny disorganised way put people at ease. Our home was a place everyone could relax as kids were allowed to be kids and run wild with all their cousins.

Christmas past - A Time to be Forever Remembered and Cherished!

Happy Christmas to you all!

Linking up to The Gallery

Friday, 23 December 2011

Thrifty & Easy - Marzipan Chocolate Treats

Roll the marzipan...

Melt the chocolate...

Poke with a cocktail stick...

Dip in the melted Chocolate...

Drop into mini cake cases...

Sprinkle with whatever you like while the chocolate is still warm...

Leave to cool and refrigerate.

Easy Peasy,
Last minute treats.

Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Thomas and Friends - The Day of The Diesels Gift Guide

Looking for a Christmas gift for a Thomas fan? How about one of these fab Mega Bloks buckets?
It is aimed at ages 3 - 6 years and is a perfect stocking filler or gift for any Thomas fan.

We were sent The Day of The Diesel Mega Blok set and it really is brilliant as we flipped open the lid inside we found mega bloks waiting for us to build Diesels home.

It doesn't look much at first and our initial impression was a bit disappointing but as we began to build we realised how so few pieces of kit could create such a usable toy.

Turn the empty bucket upside down and its full steam ahead as it transforms itself into a mountain ramp for Diesel to slide right down to begin his day. Perfect for a portable toy to take with you to friends, family or anywhere that you might need to take some entertainment to keep your little one amused.

We were also asked if we would like to take a look at a couple of Day of The Diesel books.

First up we have Day of the Diesels, the movie storybook. A colourfully illustrated book full of scenes from the movie.
All my kids have enjoyed sticker books and Day of the Diesels: Sticker Activity Book is packed with puzzles, pages to colour in and four pages of brightly coloured stickers that can be added to the movie scenes or used to decorate pretty much anything you like.
 Day of The Diesel Mega Blok Bucket - £9.99 rrp
Movie Story book - £4.99 rrp
Day of the Diesels sticker book - £3.99 rrp

*These products were sent to me free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have received no financial reward for writing this post and as a family we always give an honest and unbiased opinion.*

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Monday, 12 December 2011

Its Christmas and I miss you Mum

The kids break up from school the end of this week for Christmas so I want to get as much done as possible so I  can relax and enjoy the build up with baking and last minute gift making.  As I'm busy preparing for Christmas my thoughts turn to Mum. Everywhere I look I'm reminded that she wont be with us for another Christmas. You would hope that after six years it would get easier and in some ways it does, but the yearning to see her doesn't.

I think back to that first Christmas without her and how unbearable it was. I felt lost and didn't really know what to do, how to celebrate without her. We had always organised the celebrations between us, arranged who was going to who, who was buying what for who, who was buying the turkey, the sweets or the wine. It suddenly hit me that Christmas was never going to be same ever again. The second Christmas was just as difficult and I made an effort for the kids but my heart wasn't in it.

By the time I got to the 3rd Christmas I knew I had to change things. I started to completely throw myself into the build up more than I ever had before. I had to make Christmas my own and not 'something I used to do with Mum'. I needed to put those Christmases away in a precious little box, a box that I bring out every year as I look back and smile at my past Christmas celebrations that I spent with Mum. 

I still cry every time the decorations come out of the loft as she is always my first thought as I begin up packing the tinsel and baubles. That painful yearning to see her rears its head, but I push it back down and just accept that I wont be seeing her again this year.

I wrote this a few Christmases ago as I remembered my Mum, it sums up exactly what I miss about our Christmas together...

 I miss you Mum...This time of year is especially tough.
Its Christmas and No Card from you sits on the Mantle,
No phone call frantically asking me if I know where you've hidden all the presents because you cant find them...searched the whole house you have!
Then only to find them in the boot of your car, the airing cupboard or some other totally random place...
I miss our Family home at Christmas. The Boys running wild with Excitement...
Nan, Grandad, Aunties, Uncles and Cousins and Friends all popping in full of Christmas cheer.
You Red faced and running round making cups of tea, wrapping last minute presents and nearly forgetting to put up the tree!

Our house was always so full of people & Chaos! 
There would be food and drink and gift wrapping paper strewn all over the floor.
Kids Crying, Kids laughing, Brothers Fighting and Brothers playing
But most of all Mum
We were all together...Miss you so Much x

Friday, 9 December 2011

Christmas Gift Guide For Grown Ups

Looking for a Christmas gift for a cat lover, bird watcher or gardener? Maybe for someone who loves nature and wildlife? Well, look no further...Let me suggest the Sylvester Bird Nesting Box.

You all know I love my garden and for a while I've been saying I must get a nesting box, after all how can I have a woodland garden with no nesting boxes? It just wouldn't be complete, so when  asked me if I would like to review one of their nesting boxes I was more than happy to do so.

When the Sylvester Bird Nesting Box arrived I did chuckle to myself as I unwrapped it. It looks pretty comical as its designed as a cats head with its mouth wide open. I can just imagine how funny its going to look as a bird disappears inside the cats mouth. I love this gift and if someone had presented it to me for Christmas I would have been thrilled. I cant wait for a bird to nest in it.


Sylvester Bird Nesting Box  - RRP £22.99 (On offer at the mo for £19.99)

A few other suggestions for Grown up Gifts from

Solitary Bee Hive    - Solitary Bee Hives are bee houses for non-swarming bees that usually live in trees.

Bee Necklace - Made by the famous... Martick Jewellery

Shmangle – Rainproof Fleece Blanket with Hoo - Shmangles are fleece blankets with hoods and a rain proof exterior, Great for Camping and festivals.

*The Sylvester Bird Nesting Box was sent to me free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have received no financial reward and I always give my honest opinion.*

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Gallery - My Awesome Photo

My awesome photo is of my Granddaughter. I had just finished making toadstools for my back garden and as soon as I put them in place my Granddaughter wanted to play with them. I popped inside the house to make a cuppa and when I returned she had changed into her Alice in Wonderland dress-up costume.

First thing I thought was "Oh my, what a perfect photo opportunity!"

I grabbed my camera before she had a chance to change clothes again and snapped away. In photoshop I gave the background a blurry whimsical effect. My perfect little Alice, makes me smile every time I look at it.

Linking up to Tara's Gallery

Monday, 5 December 2011

Thrifty Gardening - How to make toadstools from recycled wooden bowls

I'm eager to create a magical garden and I love anything that captures the imagination of the children especially if it is made frugally and from recycled materials. I spotted these little stools on Pinterest and thought they would be perfect not only for decoration but for seating little bottoms.

You will need:
* An old wooden bowl
* Some nails
* White satin paint
* Red gloss paint
* Paper, scissors and masking tape
Pop along to your local charity shop or boot sale and look out for some old wooden 1970's bowls. Your Mum, Nan or Auntie might even have one stashed away at the back of their cupboard. I picked these two up at my local charity shop for a £1 each, they are perfect for toadstools.

Lightly sand both bowls a and give them a couple of coats of white satin paint. I went through my log store and picked two logs that I thought were about the right height for stools but if you don't have a log store you could go for a country walk and look for some discarded logs.

Attach the painted bowls on to the top of the logs with hammer & nails.
Cut out circles of paper into various sizes and stick them onto the painted bowls with double sided masking tape.

Then paint with a bright red gloss. They take very little paint so you might even have a little left over in your shed.

Leave to dry then very gently remove the circles of paper revealing your completed toadstools all ready for you and your little ones to enjoy.


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