Do Not Forget!!!

duracellWhat am I on about? I’m saying please do not forget….the batteries!

Oh yes, the present that your little one has looked forward to for weeks in hopeful anticipation. You see it being unwrapped, you delight in seeing their joyful face, and then….uh-oh…batteries not included. The joy soon turns to tears! And even if you’ve got it all covered yourself, chances are someone will buy them a gift that needs batteries, so you’re still done for!

How many times has this happened to you?

Apparently, 89% of UK children have received a battery operated toy at Christmas with batteries not included, whilst 71% of parents admitted that they have forgotten to buy those all-important batteries! Nooo!

I’m a little obsessed with this one, I have to admit. Back in our child-free days we probably had a packet or two lurking about the house. We only needed them for remote controls and the like, whereas now, now we need a whole drawer devoted to them! In the run up to Christmas, I pop a pack of batteries in my shopping most weeks so that we are prepared. The kids have had some toys over the years that seem to just eat them, too, so I like to have a good stock of them on hand. I know I’d also feel awful if they unwrapped a new toy, got really excited and then we couldn’t get it going.

So yes, this is my little reminder to you…..

don't forget the batteries

Disclosure: Post written in collaboration with Duracell

My Garden in December

Well, here we are at the end of the year, and I’m not quite sure how and when that happened! I’ve enjoyed reflecting on what’s been happening in my garden each month and sharing it in a few shots, too. I’ve captured it through all seasons now, and through all of the work we’ve done out there, too. Looking back, we have got quite a lot done, with cutting a tree down, removing a shed, building a veg plot, adding a little wildlife garden and my favourite thing, my cut-flower patch.

And so to December.

I’ve actually still been planting! More roses (of course!) which have gone in the beds at the front of the house. My mum’s also bought us some hellebores for Christmas, so she’s gone and popped those in for us, too. They look lovely on the pictures, so I am really looking forward to seeing them bloom. All I have out there now are a couple of splashes of purple..

garden in december 14 penstemon

garden in december 14 callicarpa

Aside from the planting and purples, though, it all looks so bleak out there. Just browns, bare trees, soggy leaves and greens. I’m not tempted to spend any time out there, so things are sprouting up all over the place, the climbers are still climbing, some shrubs are wilting, need cutting back, but it will all have to wait until springtime now.

garden in december bleak

garden in december 14 tree

garden in december 14 leaves

But, it does feel like it was blooming and warm and pretty just a few weeks ago, so I suspect it’ll be flourishing again before I know it, and I’ll be back out there happily tending to it then. The cycle will begin again, and it will no doubt wow me again….

How’s your garden growing?

Simple Wanderlust

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Wanted: Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burgler

When this new book arrived, I just knew that it was going to be one that Boo and I enjoyed..

wanted ralfy rabbitWanted: Ralfy Rabbit, Book Burgler by Emily MacKenzie

Some rabbits dream about lettuces and carrots, others dream of flowering meadows and juicy dandelions, but Ralfy dreams only of books. In fact, he doesn’t just dream about them, he wants to read them ALL THE TIME. Soon his obsession sends him spiralling into a life of crime!

Out to buy in paperback 18/12/14

Bloomsbury Publishing



OK, so we have here Ralfy, a rabbit, that just loves books. Loves them so much that he feels compelled to sneak into people’s houses to read more. Then he takes it to the next level and takes the books home with him. Until he encounters a fellow bookworm and his sneaky little activities become known….!

ralfy rabbitralfy rabbit1ralfy rabbit2

We love this book! As Boo and I are quite partial to books ourselves, we can relate to Ralfy, though I should stress that we’ve never stolen books to feed our habits! The illustrations are fun and colourful, I do like that page there where Ralfy’s made his lists (along with carrot ratings) and it is a sweet ending, too. It reminds us all that we have endless books available to us, for free, in our libraries, and the author does want to remind us all of that. I certainly spent many a happy childhood hour in our local library and this has reminded me that we’ve not visited ours recently, so I’ll pop that on our list of things to do over the holidays…

What do you think of this one? Something you can see your little ones enjoying?

Disclosure: We received this book FOC for the purposes of this review, though all words and opinions remain my own.

#BringBackPaper – A Look Back

I started my #BringBackPaper campaign at the start of April this year and I’ve absolutely loved it. It’s all about enjoying and celebrating paper, whether that be snail mail, books or gorgeous stationery, I’ll cover it!

As the end of the year draws ever closer, I thought I’d share some of the most popular posts here for you, in case you missed them…

If you fancy writing letters again, find out more about PostCircle.


Want to know more about Smashbooking? Smashbooking Inspiration.

When writing and journalling becomes a kind of therapy, in What My Pregnancy Journal Means to Me.

Do you take a moment to stop and reflect on the book you’ve just read, before moving on to the next? I didn’t, but I do now I keep a Book Journal.

book journal

And on the subject of reading, How Do You Read Yours?

If you’re looking to 2015, here’s some pretty stationery to help you get organised.

rabbit diary


Next up, there will be a Papery Peep on New Year’s Eve. I plan to share any new papery goodies Boo and I receive for Christmas, so am hoping to peek at lots of other pressie piles, too! Or if #BringBackPaper has inspired you in some way this year, please do go ahead and share that with us and link up. I do love to Peep!

Looking forward to next year, I’d like to continue to share papery guest posts, feature a great range of stationers, run Instagram challenges, book swaps and Papery Peep monthly.

New ideas for the campaign include featuring a regular showcase of favourite products, starting up a new challenge (keep your eyes peeled for details on that one soon!), more papery swaps and quick and simple activities to get involved with. Oh, and if I get enough interest, I’d be happy to have another Twitter party, too, as I did enjoy hosting one of those.

And then it’s over to you. What would you like to see? Any features that you enjoy, anything you’d like to read about or have you got a burning idea you’d like to share? Please do!

Hope you’ve been enjoying this series, too, and here’s to making it bigger and better in 2015.

The Reading Residence

#ElfTakeover Week 3

Welcome to week 3 of #ElfTakeover! If you missed last week’s, and everyone’s link ups, you can find them here. My lovely co-host Life With Munchers and I have chosen our favourites from last week….

From Let Kids Be Kids


From Handbags to Changebags

Elf snowman door

From 3 Kids and a Gluestick

elf jones & pepper

And from Mummy Pink Wellies

elden in towels

Here are some of the things our Marty’s been up to this week….

Shedding a little light..


Some noisy drumming…


This I thought was very risky, death-defying, and I’m quite sure he’d have had a head rush….


And then Boo absolutely loved that he drew himself alongside them…


So how’s your week been with your little friends? To join in and share your own elfy happenings, just grab the badge in my sidebar there, link up below, and go check out what other elves have been up to…..

Linky opens at 6.30am Tuesdays and closes at midnight on Thursdays

And remember you can use the #ElfTakeover hash tag over on Instagram to share, and we’re pinning over on the #ElfTakeover Pinterest board, too.

The Reading Residence #ElfTakeover



Happy elfing! Visit The Reading Residence’s profile on Pinterest.

My Special Gift

At the end of last week, the children were told that they could take £2.50 into school as there would be a few gifts they could choose to surprise mum and dad with. To be honest, I wasn’t going to bother sending Boo with any money, but when I mentioned it to her, her eyes lit up at the idea.

We talked on the way to school about how Daddy likes chocolate and cakes, so if there was anything like that there, she should go for that and Daddy would love his surprise.

When I picked her up, I was instructed not to look in her school bag until we were home, so she could show me what she’d bought. She had chosen to buy a necklace for me, with a pink heart on it. Pink, because it’s her favourite colour, and a heart because she loves me so much, and when I’m not with her I can wear it and always know how much she loves me. Those were her words. Aaahhh!


I so love my cheap necklace!

Loving Lottie!

We’re Lottie dolls ambassadors here, which means we have the fun of testing out and playing with Lottie dolls and accessory sets and sharing them with you. I shared our first Lottie experience, with Snow Queen Lottie, here and I’m now excited to tell you about more that we’ve been enjoying…

School-Days-Lottie-doll-1_compactSchool Days Lottie

How perfectly timed is this for us?! With Boo starting school just a couple of months ago, she likes her School Days Lottie. Personally, I like her, too, as Boo acts out things that get said and done at school whilst playing with her, so it’s a really lovely insight into her school days, as she rarely actually tells me anything!

Super Hero Lottie Outfit Set

This one was actually designed by 6 year old Lily from the US, and I can see why she won as it’s fabulous! Here she is with it..


Scooter-Accessory-Set-Lottie-doll-1_compactScooter Set

Boo had a scooter for her birthday a few weeks ago, and she now has a doll with the same! Though I must admit that if I saw her attempting the gravity-defying tricks that she does with Lottie I’d be a little afraid!

Boo likes playing with her dolls, changing their clothes and accessories, and acting out lots of scenarios while chattering away….

Playing with Lottie1

Playing with Lottie3

playing with lottie 5

playing with lottie 6

Lottie dolls are £16.99 each, and outfit and accessory sets are all £7.99 each.

I did talk about all the reasons that I like Lottie dolls in my previous post, and why I’m pleased to be working with them, but the main point is that these dolls are child-like in body, with no make up, no heels, and as the above dolls and sets imply, they’re relate-able so children should be able to relate and play with them as ‘just like me’. Lottie wants to spread positive and fun messages to children, and have just released their video, sharing why every girl’s a superhero…

You can find Lottie over on Facebook, and there’s always plenty going on on their page, from sharing new products and facts about Lottie to fun and games. It’s also worth signing up to Club Lottie to receive details of special offers.

At the moment, I have an offer code, LOTTIE10 for you, and it works at the Amazon checkout only (not on the LOTTIE website cart) and this gives you the chance to get 20% off your purchase across the entire range on any spends over £20. But hurry, offer ends Midnight on Sunday, 14 December 2014!


Disclosure: I am a Lottie Dolls ambassador, so I received these products FOC for the purposes of sharing them with you. All words and opinions remain my own. 

We're going on an adventure

How to Get the Best Out of Reading with Children

(Guest Post)

As winter nights draw in and storybooks start to appear in many Christmas stockings, Mark O’Donnell, the new headmaster of St Martin’s Ampleforth, the prep school at Ampleforth College has provided some top tips on reading with young children.

Mark says, “Unlocking a child’s imagination through reading enriches their vocabulary and gives them the opportunity to form opinions and articulate their thoughts. “Recent research undertaken at Harvard has highlighted the significance of reading to and with children before asking them about what they have read and discussing the ideas, context and relationships that stories provide. By encouraging children to articulate their ideas you are providing them with opportunities to gain new insights and develop their ability to form opinions and to think ever more effectively.”

how to get the best out of reading with childrenMark’s tips based on nearly 20 years’ experience teaching ages 3-12:

1. Make reading a part of your family life – Always encourage reading, whether it is on the back of a cereal box at breakfast, or road signs on the way to school.
2. Indulge their interests – Children are more likely to stay engaged if the book is on a topic they are interested in, it also helps to see what topic they are most enjoying at school and find a book to match it.
3. Get comfortable! – A quiet, cosy environment is perfect for some independent reading so your child can concentrate, as well as reading together.
4. Be sure to ask questions – To keep them interested in the story and encourage them to reflect on what they’re reading, ask your child what they think will happen next or where you got to the previous night to make sure they’re engaged.
5. Read again and again – It’s important that you encourage your child to re-read favourite books and poems to help build up fluidity and confidence.
6. Rhyme and repetition – Books and poems which include rhyme and repetition are great for encouraging your child or children to join in and remember the words.

Mark adds: “There are also marked benefits for the parents when they read with their child. It reminds them of how they enjoyed being read to and sharing this time together further strengthens the bond between a child and a parent. It also allows parents to become very aware of their child’s social, emotional, and intellectual development.”

Thanks to Mark O’Donnell at St Martin’s Ampleforth for these tips.

We certainly make reading a part of our family life. We’ve read to both children since they were babies, and now that Boo has started at school, she wants to read things everywhere that she sees words, which is really lovely. And yes, rhyme and repetition are very popular here, with so many fab Julia Donaldson books, amongst others, enjoyed! Little Man is particularly loving Stick Man and A Squash and a Squeeze at the moment, along with his beloved Pip and Posy books. Boo basically wants to read anything she can get her hands on! This week she’s been enjoying her Rainbow Fairies books, her Storytime magazine, and her Aesop’s fables library book.

What are your children’s favourite books? What tips would you add?

Disclosure: Written in collaboration with St Martins, Ampleforth.

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Word of the Week – 12/12/14

Thank you #WotW linkers! Lovely to have you joining us. If you’re new here, Word of the Week is a nice and simple weekly linky, with everyone welcome to pop by and share. You reflect back on the past week and sum it up in one word. Then share your word with us in a blog post, with as little or as much explanation as you like. I comment on and tweet out every post, as long as you add my #WotW badge or a link back to here. It’s a fun and friendly linky, so please do be lovely and visit as many of the other blogs as you can and share with them your thoughts on their words and weeks.

My word of the week this week is:


I’m always proud of my children and I always think they’re totally amazing, but sometimes, they surpass my expectations….

This week has seen my gorgeous Little Man impress and surprise me twice. On Monday we had his health visitor 2 year check up. I filled out a questionnaire in advance with what he is and isn’t doing, and then went along to the meeting. I’d said to my mum that he’d no doubt sit there next to me, not say a word and make them think I was making it all up! He tends to be quite shy with strangers and has never been one to ‘perform’ or just ‘do’ on cue! How wrong was I. I so underestimated my boy, as he was really chatty in there, sat and built a huge stack of bricks, moved to the next table and coloured in, to the next where he played with the farm animals naming them all and playing imaginatively with them. I know that he can do these things, of course, but it was the fact that he actually did them with strangers and did them with gusto that took me by surprise! There were no problems, he’s reaching his milestones and he’s pretty tall, which we knew! The following day was his playgroup Christmas party, and Santa put in an appearance. I expected him to be shy and refuse to go and collect his pressie, but no, he happily tottered off and even sat on Santa’s knee! My sociable, clever boy :-)

Boo has a main part in the upcoming nativity and refuses to practice her lines with me. I was a bit concerned that she wouldn’t know any of them, but her teacher informed me that she’s doing brilliantly well with them, and injects just the right amount of theatre into delivering them! She is also absolutely flying with her reading and writing, and this week’s homework saw her move up a level with her tricky words and her reading books. I’m so very proud of her, and she absolutely loves it.

And a little something for the Husband and I? I enter the odd competition here and there, as I pop around in blog land, but don’t expect to ever actually win. Well, once again my expectations have been surpassed. I received an email a few days ago to say that we’ve won a night in a Travelodge of our choice, brekkie included, and it’s…..for a couple only! What?! We’ve never been away from our pair and I cannot remember the last night of uninterrupted sleep we had, and certainly no lie ins passed 7am. We’re going to book one for our anniversary next spring, near to Chatsworth House where I’ve been wanting to go for sometime, and we’ll actually be able to stroll round it and enjoy it at a leisurely rather than break neck pace. We cannot wait!!!

What about you? What one word sums up your week best? Please grab the badge, link up and share.

The Reading Residence

Linky opens at 6.30am Friday, to midnight on Sunday.

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