Christmas Preparations

We always put our Christmas decorations up on the 1st of December in the O'Hara household; the perfect start to the Advent period. Even though (almost) all my children are grown up we still keep the magic for the grandchildren.  I even let them decorate the lounge last year - it looked like someone had taken a box of decorations and thrown it in the direction of the tree but they were so proud of it.

This year I've been looking for some alternative decorations and ways to get in the mood for Christmas along with money-saving tips and bargains.  This post will be regularly updated between now and Christmas so watch out for update announcements on Twitter and Facebook.


John Lewis knitted snowmanFirst out of the decoration box is my John Lewis snowman that I knitted a couple of years ago. A lot of time and love and swearing went into making this and he sits proudly on the shelf next to all the home/school-made decorations that are stored away lovingly each year.  I was hoping that they were going to release a knitted penguin kit this year but I can't find one...

tissue paper pom poms, thinly spread, tutorial
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this tissue paper pom pom tutorial from my friend, Chris over at Thinly Spread (part of her Countdown to Christmas series). I used to make these with my nana with two or more different colours of paper. This weekend, I'm going to sit down with my own grandchildren and make some for here and their own house.

Hanging Lantern Company, decorations
I've been constructing these cute little paper trees and houses from The Hanging Lantern company. They are laser-cut and come "flat packed" for you to construct yourself (a bit fiddly but I have fat fingers) and they are really effective. I'm going to buy some LED (flameless) tealights to put inside them for maximum effect!

Isle of Skye Candle Company, scented candle, cinnamon
What's your favourite Christmas smell?  Mine has to be pine needles (even though we never have a real tree) and cinnamon. To get in the mood a little early, I've been burning this candle from the Isle Of Sky Candle Company and it smells DELISH! 

Wrap.Me,  personalised wrapping paper
Now, this next item was a bit of a surprise. I received a sample piece of wrapping paper created from my own Instagram pictures. This was sent by as an example of what can be created but it would be wonderful to use for a very special Christmas present or even a Christening or wedding. 

And finally (for now) the widget at the end of this post from My Voucher Codes is a Christmas Price Toy Monitor which features the top toys this Christmas with information about where you can buy them at the best prices so I thought that would be useful!


Don't forget to watch out on Twitter or Facebook for more updates to this post and let me know what you do that's slightly different to prepare for Christmas. 

[GIVEAWAY] We're Having A Ball with Sun Bingo

Sun Bingo - Having A Ball

Recently I have been sharing updates from Sun Bingo's very unique online show - Having A Ball - which is hosted by Brian Dowling, Rustie Lee and Jean Martyn. This week I am running an exclusive giveaway for you here with a prize that cannot be bought in the shops.  I also have some celebrity interviews to share with you that I will be publishing over on my Facebook page.

Win an EXCLUSIVE Sun Bingo onesie and mug

I have ten Sun Bingo prize packages which consist of a Sun Bingo onesie and a Sun Bingo mug. These items are exclusive to Sun Bingo and cannot be obtained anywhere else. To enter this giveaway please follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below (if you cannot see the widget please click through to the web version of this blog post). To enter you must answer the question inside the Rafflecopter widget. There are additional entries available which include social sharing. If you are a new visitor here for the giveaway, it would be great if you could stick around. There are some subscription options in the sidebar.  And finally, GOOD LUCK!

TERMS AND CONDITIONS * This giveaway will begin at 12:00 on 25th November 2014 and will close at 23:59 on 7th November 2014 * This giveaway is open to any of my readers aged 18 or above who reside in the UK. * There is no cash alternative to the giveaway * There is one compulsory entry which asks the entrant to comment on this blog..  You can gain additional entries using the options in the Rafflecopter widget * There are ten (10) prizes in total * The prizes have been provided by SUN BINGO *  The prize winners will be asked to provide their email address so that the prize can be delivered to them electronically * Entries will only be accepted as instructed and any entrant that does not complete the qualifying requirements will be disqualified * The winners will be chosen by using a random number generator built into the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted direct on the email address provided within five (5) days of the draw. 

Sun Bingo - Having A Ball

Please see my disclosure policy for further details.

Good Memories

If you spend any time on Facebook at all you have probably seen the most recent 'tag' which asks you to share five of your 'good memory' photographs.  These are all fairly recent photographs (and isn't it hard to narrow it down to just five?) but they make me howl laughing when I see them because of the stories behind them.


Five Bloggers And A Dwarf

After attending my first ever blogger conference, a few of us convened in the hotel lobby with some smuggled pre-purchased drinks, evaluating the day's events and catching up with each other. Our mini-party was spectacularly gate-crashed by this vertically-challenged, extremely inebriated dude who took a bit of a shine to Amanda.

Five Bloggers And A Dwarf

Social Networking Ruined My Life

My favourite ever t-shirt worn at the aforementioned blogger conference.  Iconic or ironic? It also features heavily in this little mishap...

Image © Tara Cain, t-shirt, chesticles,

Dog 1, Grandchild 0.

This stool resides in our lounge. When the dog was a puppy he used to curl up on it and more or less claimed it as his own. What he hadn't realised is that my eldest granddaughter had also done the same.  One Sunday afternoon, Amie sat on the stool, the dog attempted to sit next to her but she refused to move so he climbed on her knee and claimed his spot.  

a dog sitting on a child

Private Shortarse

This proud moment was just after my son's passing out parade at Prince William of Gloucester Barracks, Grantham. I forget how tall he is until I see this photgraph of us together where I look like I'm stood in a hole. I'm a pretty average 5'6" and he's 6'8".  

Passing Out Parade

No Words Required

The final picture is one I took at Madame Tussaud's in Blackpool in 2011. I'd asked the three men in my life to line up against this wall to emulate the 'Usual Suspects' promotional image. Whilst I was getting the camera ready they all grabbed a caption and held it up just before I hit the shutter.  I could hardly stop shaking through laughing because each of the signs was a perfect description of each of them (and still is). 

The Usual Suspects, Tussauds, Blackpool

What's your favourite memory photograph.  
Share it with me in the comments or tweet it to me.


It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of music and dance. If I ever became famous (or, more likely, infamous), I'd be begging my agent to get me a stint on Strictly Come Dancing. I'd even be OK with being paired with Anton du Beke!

I saw Tara share this video on Facebook recently and it supports a theory I have which suggests that any choreography changes its context if danced to music from a different genre.  Someone has taken an enormous amount of time to showcase this by stitching these dance scenes from various movies together and it needs to be enjoyed.   

It's a proper 'feel good' clip so... LET'S DAAAAAAAAAAANCE!!

And just in case you were wondering, here are the films featured in the clip: A Knights Tale, Airplane, American Pie, Austin Powers, Billy Elliot, Blue Skies, Clerks 2, Coyote Ugly, Dirty Dancing, Fame, Fame 2009, Flashdance, Footloose, Get Smart, Grease, Happy Feet, High Fidelity, High School Musical, Honey, Mamma Mia, Mary Poppins, Mask of Zorro, Moonwalker, Moulin Rouge, Perfect, Phantom of the Opera, Pulp Fiction, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Saturday Night Fever, Save the Last Dance, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Singing in the Rain, Step Up, Step Up 2, Strictly Ballroom, True Lies, West Side Story, White Nights, Wild Hogs.

P.S. If you like this then you'll LOVE 'What Can We Learn From Dance Scenes In Movies?' that I wrote not too long ago.

The Definitive Music-Related Gift Guide

Sorry, I know it's still November but I've got to start preparing for Christmas soon and I need some off-the-wall stocking fillers and unusual presents. Music Room contacted me to see if I fancied using their gift finder app to discover some music-related presents.  So, after getting a little bit nostalgic for my piano lesson days with their 'Dozen A Day' practice books, I found some ace presents for my grandchildren and the rest of the family. 

For the grandchildren

music gifts for children

There is method in the madness here. I would love my granddaughters to be musical so here's a perfect starter kit.  Their mum can play the keyboard [1] (which rolls up for easy storage - genius) whilst they accompany her with their percussion instruments [2 and 3] (the castanets [6] are a bonus item because I remember my own Nana buying me a set once). I've chosen the Frozen songbook [5] for the four-year old and the One Direction songbook [4] for the six-year old (both obsessed in their own way).

Stocking Fillers

music-related stocking fillers

Again, a reason for everything.  Chopsticks [7] for my husband (just because), the teapot and cup [8 and 10] for my daughter (because she's going to need a brew after creating a band with her children) and headphones [9] for both my sons.

And me?   

black ukulele

I'm getting a ukulele [11], obviously!  I've even found some pop song books for 'beginners' so my whole family are in for a right treat at the O'Hara Boxing Day party... *ahem*.  I've also got a bit lost in the stationery section of the website so if anyone wants to send in a search party... 

Find the MusicRoom gift finder app here :

This is a featured post in conjunction with MusicRoom. Please see my disclosure policy for more details.