Christmas Gift Guide: ActionAid

It’s time to turn Christmas shopping on its head and anti-poverty charity ActionAid wants to save people from the endless hours of trawling for presents they’re not certain their loved ones actually want, while saving the world at the same time! Their Gifts in Action are completely unique and totally unexpected. They’ll make friends, families, colleagues and neighbours smile and feel great, and shouldn’t that be what it’s all about, rather than another ubiquitous bottle of wine or box of smellies? ActionAid have come up with a great gift idea that’s perfect for crafty types like me, something I’d love to receive and my friends would too – a sewing machine!

See Christmas differently

Gifts in Action give people the chance to surprise their sister with a sewing machine, give their best friend a goat or watch as their mum un-wraps a brand new classroom. Of course, the gift itself goes to someone who desperately needs it. What friends and family will receive in their hands is a beautiful card, telling them all about the amazing gift they’ve given to a child or a family living in one of the poorest parts of the world.

Make do and mend

This year’s brand new gift of a sewing machine which costs just £12 will help young girls like Nandar, 16, to join an ActionAid training project in Burma (Myanmar) to teach women and girls learn the arts of weaving, making handicrafts, bags and knitted items to sell. This crafty gift could help Nandar learn the skills she needs to work her way out of poverty – and get closer to her ambition of becoming a designer one day.

Buying an inspiring life-changing gift is simple. To follow the easy steps to give the present that costs a little but gives such a lot just go to Gifts in Action.


Disclaimer: This is a cause I care about, I received no compensation for my post.


Spiced biscuits and treats for us tomorrow, I’m half Dutch and like to celebrate Sintaklaas in a small way on 5th December.

Sintaklaas is the festival of St Nicholas, celebrated annually on Saint Nicholas’ eve (5 December), it’s the gift giving day in the festive period, gifts are small but very personalised, I think it’s more about the fun of the occasion, and family time, some of the gifts given to adults might be a ‘surprise’ so it could be a handmade gift or a bit of a joke, my Mam told us that she once made a computer from cardboard boxes as a gift for her brother.

I’m not sure of the roots of this one but on Sintaklaas evening Dutch children put their shoe in front of the fireplace to find it may be filled with sweets the next day, so I do this for my husband as he loves the novelty of it, and am doing this for Joss this year too!


A few years ago I was lucky to be in Holland staying with my family over Sintaklaas, in Holland the presents aren’t under a tree but they ‘arrive’ in all manner of means, and this particular year my Aunt’s neighbour delivered them dressed as Zwartepiet, or Black Peter, Sintaklaas’ helper. It would be remiss of me not to say that there are some issues around stereotyping, that Peter in his Moorish representation, where people paint their faces black, perpetuates a racist stereotype, that Peter was a servant or slave of Sintaklaas, I can understand this and found myself a little shocked to see the tradition continue.

The gifts were presented and there was a lot of fun, my grandfather received a white chocolate carrot as he loved rabbits, I had just moved into my first house and received pretty accessories that I treasure today, there were joke gifts and lots of spiced biscuits and special food, my favourite was presented by my parents on their return from visiting family this year, an Amandelstaf, a pastry staff representing the bishop’s staff carried by Sintaklaas filled with sweet almond paste, divine!


Speaking in Sentences

I thought it would be a good time to capture some of the sentences we’ve been hearing from Jossy recently, reading them back she certainly knows her own mind and we have clearly hit upon the ‘starting to understand boundaries and test boundaries stage’! My favourite is “who wants cake?” a question she may have heard me ask, and an expectation all rolled into one!


Working and Mothering, what about Daddy?

I was at a work event this week, lots of networking – *craning to look at badge* “what’s your name” “so where are you from?” ….Ah sounds interesting.. “And what is it you do there?”

I am really comfortable talking about what I do for a living, and I like to think I do so with passion, I often drop into conversation that I’m also studying at the moment but there’s always this part of me that wants to say “and I spend a really fun part of my week with my little girl.”

It really made me think about my work life balance, about how I compartmentalize time and how Joss is always at the forefront of my thoughts.

It was with this in mind that I raised an old topic of conversation with Mr B, about whether he feels he misses out working full time, and whether we could do anything about this.

In March my course comes to an end, of course I’m really happy to be coming to the end of a long hard slog, but it will also mean I’m no longer spending a chunk of my part time salary on my course fees (it’s a big chunk, huge) and this would potentially mean that Mr B and I could afford to have him drop a day and have a day a week with this gorgeous girl.

Life is too short for regrets, and of course I wish we could’ve done this sooner, and it will make things tighter as it’s money we could have saved.

Still, these are all just things we’re talking about for now, but I think the likelihood is that we will start to make moves to downshift, so that we can both say that we spend part of our week with our darling daughter.


Clean Green Nappy Machine Advent Calendar Competition

As you know I’m a big cloth nappy fan, and have been lucky enough to have won a nappy or two in our cloth-wearing time, fun, as well as a big help having a spare or two!

Clean Green Nappy Machine have a big Christmas Advent competition running, and you can join in here

Each day in December up until 24th, they’re giving away a fantastic prize. It could be a TotsBots easyfit, a changing bag or a roll of nappy liners; every day they will be giving away one cloth nappy prize! With a total prize value of nearly £350 there’s sure to be something in there for you!

Hunt for the bauble symbols on the site, and with my special link above you get an extra special hint each evening, giving you 12 hours to hunt with a little hint from me!


Disclaimer: I jsut wanted to help promote the cloth-love, so received no compensation for this post.

Christmas Gift Guide Part 2: Something a bit eco-fabulous

When I put out a request for people to spam me with Christmas gift ideas for eco-friendly folk Thrashion Recycled Skateboard Jewellery came forward and knocked my socks off with not just a cool product but a great project link too. The guys at Thrashion Ltd produce jewellery and gifts from broken and recycled skateboards; and they have come up with another amazing and original idea for a new recycled skateboard product in time for Christmas, with a charitable aspect too!

Thrashion Recycled Skateboard Jewellery got together with illustrator Jon Horner to produce the first ever skate ‘SNAP’ game. The 52 full colour 350gsm silk laminated cards feature 13 different designs all illustrated by Jon Horner, and are reverse printed with another of Jon’s custom designs based on traditional playing cards imagery.

The cards are packaged in beautiful hand crafted games compendium style boxes which have been produced by Driftwood Surfboards and Thrashion Ltd from recycled skateboards and sustainable wood sources.

This new and completely original product will be launched in December 2013 but are available to pre-order through the Thrashion website now! These are a limited edition item and only 10 have been made. All profits made will be donated to Skateistan. Skateistan use skateboarding as a tool for youth empowerment in Afghanistan and Cambodia, supporting community engagement, education and empowerment.

Thrashion vs Jon Horner SNAP all designs

Disclaimer: This is a project I wanted to support, I received no reimbursement, payment, product or otherwise for this post.

Christmas Crafting Part 4 – making special cards for grandparents

I love to make Christmas cards to give from recycled bits and bobs, but have very little time to make a stack of 30 this year, we decided to give cards to very close family and friends this year, and do an e-card for others who would appreciate it.

This is Joss’ offering for her Daddy grandparents, and we’ve been making more this week, six in total with some decorated inside too!


I was so impressed with Joss’ concentration, she sat for about 20 minutes with dabber paint pens, stickers and cotton wool and tin foil, did a bit of gluing as you can see from the sticky patches, and she scrunched up the tinfoil herself. The little penguins were peeled off and re-positioned umpteen times too!

That’s me for today, I’m working four days this week so posts are a little shorter and am dashing out the door now, but I do have an exciting post planned for next week, and of course keep entering my Organic Babies competition folks!

Christmas Gift Guide Part 1: Organic Babies Giveaway

I love to read Christmas Gift Guides both to get inspiration and get into the Christmas Spirit, but I wanted to bring out some important values in my own gift guide series which I’m focusing around an Eco-friendly festive theme.

Until Joss was 18 months old I used nothing but good old water in her bath, and we use washable wipes with water alone for nappy changes. It’s really important to me to avoid over exposure to chemicals and it was unnecessary for us to use anything more than water as it got her clean and was waste free! Now that Joss is getting a little messier with play and at mealtimes we wanted to introduce a gentle, nasty-free wash that is clean and green, and we were delighted to try the Organic Babies range by Green People. With organic certified ingredients and parabens, phthalates and other nasties out of the picture I felt confident to try the range, a little of the wash really does go a long way even when cleaning off blue paint following a messy session, and the calendula and hemp blend baby salve is another great option for keeping nappy rash at bay, but I also used it for Joss’ eczema to keep her skin soft and moisturised, and for my own dry patches – a great multi-purpose all rounder!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA (I received these products to review, all views are my own)

Green People very kindly agreed to help me kick start my gift guide with the ideal Christmas gift for parents-to-be or for a ready-made family, I have a fantastic Hello Baby gift set to give away to one lucky reader!
The gift set contains a trio of perfectly pure bath and skincare products that have been expertly blended making them perfect for new arrivals. Hello Baby includes Lavender Baby Salve an all round skin saviour and nappy rash essential. Scent Free Baby Lotion, a divinely nourishing lotion, perfect for baby massage. Lavender Baby Wash & Shampoo, super gentle organic bubbles for delicate skin.


To enter just use the rafflecopter form below (opens tomorrow):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

T&Cs – UK only, giveaway ends midnight 8/12/13, Rafflecopter randomly chooses the winner and this choice is final, there is no cash alternative, responsibility for sending out the prize is with Green People

Autumnal crochet

A shortie from me today, I’m working five days this week so a bit behind with my home life let alone blogging! I have been taking it easier at night now that my latest uni assignment has safely reached the hands of my tutor, so I started a quick little snood for Jossy, a really simple mix of double and treble crochet with a lovely chunky wool, I just loved the autumnal colours that it reflects, gold, purple and green, I started making it for me but just knew it was for her once I saw the colour blend coming out, perhaps I’ll make myself a hat with the scraps!