Fathers Day 2017 Gift Ideas

Father's DayoFather’s Day is rapidly approaching and like many mommas out there I’m looking for a present for Daddy on behalf of an 8 year old who really only cares about Spiderman and Xbox so isn’t the best present chooser!

I love handmade type gifts even if it’s not me handmaking them! I do have an affiliate account with Etsy so there are affiliate links in this post #whoopwhoopaffiliatewarning but I do also think Etsy is the best place out there for these type of gifts plus you’re supporting small business which is always good.

Cards

Normally I buy cards from Moonpig because I love the personalised nature of the cards but Etsy have a fantastic range of quirky, unusual cards that are also personalised and there are some really great Fathers Day options like this Superman card which Master Clack would absolutely love to give his Daddy.

supermanI absolutely love this framed art featuring superheros (can you spot a theme here!)

FramedDad

For all none superhero loving Fathers I think this trinket box for watches, sunglasses and other important bits would be a great addition to a bedside table and it can be personalised which is great.

toolbox

For all DIY loving Dads there are some beautifully engraved hammers, these kind of gifts are like heirlooms I think, I personally use my mother’s jewellery box and my father’s old toolbox with his old tools in.

 

Just popping Fathers Day into the search bar on Etsy brings up over 250 pages of gift options! Have a browse and buy a present that will last years and be really personal to the special Daddy in your house!

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Who am I really?

Step parenting 101

Who am I?

When I started this blog I called it Creative Clack because I wanted to write posts about creative solutions to problems as I’m quite a creative person. I still do want to write those kind of posts but I’m starting to realise there are other aspects of my life that I focus on more heavily at times than being creative.

Do I want my blog to really represent all of me or do I want to have several blogs that are aimed at niche audiences, is creative clack the right name for my blog? I have this same internal struggle with my life in general so I suppose it is only fitting that my blog should reflect this too.

At work I am constantly being creative, working in Marketing I spend my days designing emails or website banners, writing copy for our website or magazine articles and telling other people how best to portray the company we all work for. But how do I portray who I am? How do I figure out who I am? At home I am also creative coming up with clever storage solutions for the every day tat that enters our house or deciding on the decoration for a room I’m redoing, however at home I am much more about being the ‘stepmum’ than the ‘creative one’.

The parts of me that I’m going to be focusing on are:

  • plus size clothing for those of us who don’t want to look like we’re in the 1950s
  • step parenting
  • creative solutions for the home
  • party planning

My blog from now on will reflect all the parts of me and I hope that you enjoy all the insights into my brain living with my stepson and two big boys (grown ups)!

Chore Chart

At 8 years old Master Clack is starting to move into the world of wanting pocket money and wanting to do jobs to earn it, who am I to stop him! So I researched some chore charts on Pinterest and there are some great ideas such as magnet boards, marble systems and much more that just seemed a touch too complicated for what I was looking for.

I already had an A3 document holder stuck onto the fridge which I was displaying a calendar in, however, still noone apart from me was looking at the calendar so it wasn’t really working. I found a chore chart I was happy with, one with blank spaces for me to specify chores and I printed a blank, no date one out to use. Combined with some Spiderman artwork, it makes the perfect addition to the fridge.

Chore Chart

Chore Chart

Once inside the document holder, using a whiteboard, non-permanent pen I can tick once he’s completed the chore and write the current date at the top. I just had to pay him out after 5 weeks and he had earnt £27! He had decided to save up his money for a firestick so we kept a note of the weekly amounts until we knew he’d got enough. If he had completed every job he had the potential to earn £50 in the same amount of time, but I know from experience if I keep harping on about something and ramming it down his throat, he will rebel and do the opposite. #typicalman #startingmanhoodyoung

So I kept it light and casual with the ethos if you do the job, tick the box, you earn the money. Up to you how much you want to earn. He goes through spates of wanting to tick every box within a day and I’m happy enough that he’s learning about saving up his pocket money and the extra help is great!

Chore Chart Working

Work, work, work, work

The ugly truth about full time step parenting!

OK this is not a creative based post, this is an honest snapshot of how I’m feeling today, a bad day in the world of step parenting. Apologies in advance for the rant, nobody I know is aware I have this blog and I just need to rant, normal service will be resumed tomorrow!

My stepson Master Clack has lived with me full time since he was 2.5, he is nearly 9. I honestly don’t know how I could love him anymore if I’d given birth to him myself.

I have taught that child literally everything he knows. From getting him out of nappies, his first day at school, every single piece of homework he’s ever done to learning how to tie his shoes and holding his hand at the dentist. I’ve done it all.

His ‘bio’ mum is quite frankly, frigging useless. She lives 15 minutes down the road and only sees him when we take him to her and pick him up. She doesn’t pay anything towards his upkeep and never has. She sees him for 6 hours once a fortnight and that’s if she doesn’t have anything better to do. However, in her defense she made the best decision she could for her Son when she asked if he could come and live with his Dad and myself, which must have been incredibly difficult.

Master Clack has been in a bit of a bad mood the last couple of mornings on the school run and when pressed he said that he was missing his Mum. This drives me absolutely demented (although I should point out I never let him see that). You miss a mother that gave you a terrible life when you were younger (thank god he doesn’t remember!) and can hardly be arsed with him at all. She lets him down all the time and promises him the world and then doesn’t deliver and I’m left consoling a child who doesn’t understand how the woman he idolises can let him down.

I’m having a hard time at the minute, hence the lack of blog posts with a cluster f**k of several things happening all at once and it’s very hard to be upbeat Step-Mum who’s holding down a full time job and has a load of other crap to deal with at the minute and when he said he misses her, I could feel myself falling over the edge and then cried all the way to work!

He’s missing someone he’s old enough to understand promises him the world and never delivers and someone he doesn’t even remember living with. It’s very difficult to be the bigger person and say ‘I’m sure Mummy is working and that’s why she hasn’t rung you’ or ‘Mummy did the best job she could for you’ when in reality she fed him through broken windows to open the front door when she lost her keys when he was aged two and left the glass there for him to crawl in for weeks after, who kept him in clothes that were always filthy and left him with random mates to go partying on the one night she had him in a fortnight. Sometimes I would love nothing more than to scream ‘What are you on about? She’s a tramp who doesn’t give a f**k about you!’ Obviously I never would say that as it would break his heart and I’d never do that.

Children tend to put their biological parents on a pedestal until they wake up and smell the roses and see the light. I know the day will come when it clicks for him that I chose him, I didn’t have to and I did. I chose to be the one who’s there everyday dealing with all the stress motherhood and working combined brings and sometimes a little recognition would be nice! Is it too much to ask?

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day is right round the corner and I have a few ideas for the mums, step mums, adoptive mum, any kind of mum you know and would like to treat this year. I have created a free printable for you to find a nice A4 frame for and voila – present! You can download it here.

mother

My own mother loves carnations and a thoughtful gift, even if it is home made. As a full time step mum I also get to experience Mother’s Day and I would also appreciate a home made gift far more than something bought in a shop. All mothers have a different idea of what showing appreciation would mean to them. I have created a Pinterest board showing a few great ideas for home made gifts and a ton of free printables.

My father died four years ago and it makes me even more grateful for my Mum, who even at 35 is still always there for me and my brother. Take care of your Mommas on this special day and show your appreciation for all the hard work it took to raise you! Have fun!

My perfect planner

Perfect planner by creativeclack I’ve been trying to get the perfect planner for my needs for some time now. I started out with a bullet journal and although I’m a whizz on photoshop I can’t draw for toffee! I looked on instagram at all these amazing bullet journals and had serious bujo envy! I knew the only way I would achieve something that worked for me would be to create it myself.

All the planner printables I could find were for mums or bullet journal templates or ones for work. I needed a planner that I could use every day for work and to keep track of the tasks for my team and one I could keep track of my home tasks and goals too. I can’t be the only working mumma out there!

I tried the traditional bujo method of a notebook and quickly realised my longer term goals were going to outlive my current notebook. I needed a system I could move pages around when needed and add to it without having to keep rewriting longer term goal pages with each new notebook.

Pinterest research

I started by researching on Pinterest what I wanted from my planner and to see which free printables I could use, no point in reinventing the wheel unless necessary! I created a board with all my favourite planner pins on including the free printables in this post.

Perfect planner

I had an old A5 Filofax planner hidden away and started to use this as my planner. I love the Filofax because I can add pages, move pages and take out pages without affecting my long term goal pages like my #40for40 list and a gift list I keep for Christmas gift ideas when they pop into my head.  I keep my divider tabs and a yearly calendar with school holidays marked.

Yearly planner

Yearly calendar and sticky divider tabs

I like to keep my work and home calendars separate so I have two in my planner for each month, but I’ve kept them visually different. The calendars are both from another great blogger Oh So Lovely! They can be downloaded here, check out all her awesome designs!

I was then stuck because I had the ideal system but I couldn’t find a printable anywhere which would look professional in work and allow me to manage the team, but also allow me to do home tasks like meal plan, keep track of cleaning and make personal to do lists.

Solution

So my solution was to create a weekly calendar for home and work with a to do list for the team on one side and home life on the other. When the home life to do list is on the left I can also see my personal home notes for that week. When the planner is in ‘work’ mode on my desk in the office no one knows what’s on the other side for home. So far it’s working perfectly!

 

Personal planner

Work planner side with weekly calendar

Weekly planner

Secret personal planner pages

One of my long term sections is for parties, the next big party I’m focused on is a Motown themed party for my momma! There is an amazing blogger called Eliza Ellis who has absolutely tonnes of free printables on her blog. The below party plan pack can be downloaded here.

Party planner

Party planning section free printable from Eliza Ellis

Free printables

I created my own template in excel using page view so I could see how much of the page I was using for each section and to allow me to double side print. I have added the weekly spread and the To do list as free downloads for any other working mummas who want to try my system out. Let me know how you get on!

Travel essentials to ensure the perfect family holiday

Top 10 travel essentials

Mark Warner Holidays have just launched the search for their latest Blogger Ambassador programme for 2017. They are asking for our Top 10 travel essential must haves. This has come at a perfect time for me as I have recently returned from a family holiday to Tenerife. Our essential items are still fresh in my mind!

I normally holiday with my partner and my 8 year old stepson, they both love travelling and exploring the area we are staying in. My stepson (Master Clack) is absolutely obsessed with swimming, I’m pretty sure he was a fish in a previous life! Swimming and exploring are always on our agenda and our essentials reflect that.

Before the (very light) tan fades I created a Pinterest board with links to my Top 10 travel must haves. My must haves are split into essentials you need whilst travelling there and then essential items you need once you arrive.

For travelling the essentials are:

Travel Wallet – needed to put the whole family’s travel documents together in one place, I have this exact wallet and the strap feels secure, it has plenty of space and I can walk around the airport when we have established ‘base camp’ for a bit of me time browsing the duty free goodies, feeling like it’s a clutch bag.

4 wheeled suitcase – these are a recent revelation to me! I have travelled quite a lot in my life but I have never experienced the joy and ease of using a 4 wheeled suitcase! Master Clack took two of these large suitcases through Birmingham Airport in January all by himself, makes getting you and all your luggage through the airports much easier when you can all pitch in because they’re so easy to use.

Packing List Free Printable – I like the organise (obsess) over my holiday plans before going. Google map walking the streets to see what’s around the hotel, printing out maps of things I want to see. A free printable packing list is always in my travel plans to ensure I don’t forget anything.

Whilst I’m there my essential items change and it becomes more about protection for the whole family!

While I’m there essentials:

Vodafone Euro Traveller – always sorted before I leave so I can stay in touch with home and Master Clack can stay in touch with his bio mum while we’re away. Uses all my existing data plan, I would definitely go over £21 in data charges if I didn’t use the Euro Traveller! #notanadjustgood

Character Swim Vest – an essential for Master Clack, I can’t get him out of the pool to reapply suncream as often as I would like so this swim vest stops him being burnt to a crisp! Plus he looks super cute in it!

My number one travel essential

Spray Suncream – I have tried both cream and spray suncreams and the spray is so much easier for quick rubdowns of the kids as they’re whizzing past you into the pool.

Comfortable Backpack – I recently became a donkey in Tenerife when I was loaded down with Master Clack and Mr Clack’s bits and bobs from sunglasses, baby wipes to spare suncream. Getting a backpack with comfortable straps can save your shoulders and back from breaking while you cart the family’s belongings around the nearest beach.

Comfy Trainers – A child seems to develop more energy on holiday so a pair of comfortable trainers is important for all the running around keeping up with them, from swimming to kids discos, walks around the town to hiking around the nearest water park. Comfortable shoes are an essential item, it always makes me suspicious when I see another Mum dolled up to the nines in 6 inch stilettos with a small child!

Digital Babysitter – Lets face it as exciting as holidays are, not all of the travelling parts are fun and attention-capturing! Your friendly digital babysitter can prove invaluable when stuck with an airport delay or a long flight. I joined Amazon Prime for £7.99 a month I can listen to music through the app on my phone while Master Clack watched TV programmes and films I’d downloaded onto my Fire Tablet before we left. See the don’t disturb me I’m travelling face below!

Digital babysitter

List of great hacks for holidays – I do a lot of research before going away to make the most of my time away. Ideas like taking a double fitted sheet to use as a sunbed on the sand are ingenious and it’s always worth looking up other peoples’ essential items before leaving in case they give you ideas.

My number 1 essential item

Ultimately none of these essentials would be needed without my gorgeous travel buddies who I would go anywhere and do anything with so my number one essential must have is my family and I don’t mind where I am, as long as I’m with them.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Valentine'sDay Gift Ideas

Valentine’s Day in my house growing up was actually my Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary. So it was always a special day filled with love and memories. I love to include Master Clack and make him feel loved on Valentine’s, as well as Mr Clack of course!

Pinterest

I’ve scoured Pinterest and made a Valentine’s board with tons of great gift ideas, some DIY some to buy. As Valentine’s is a weekday this year  I am planning a special meal (I get home before him so it’s one of my Valentine’s surprises). Plus I’m going to buy him a coin display frame. He collects limited edition 50ps and at the moment they’re all sat in a box. I also love the ‘I won the lottery when I met you’ idea so I am going to do that too.

For Master Clack I love this free superhero printable, plus I’ll do him a little Valentine’s Candy basket.

Here’s a link to my date night printables post if you fancy making some date night packages for your Valentine.

However you choose to celebrate Valentine’s I hope your day is fun and full of love!

Ninja Turtles Party Ideas

Turtles party ideas

For Master Clack’s 5th birthday it was bitter sweet as we invited his entire class to his birthday party and only two kids turned up but luckily we had invited lots of family friends and their kids for just after his ‘friends party’ was due to finish so he still had lots of kids to play with that day, when people don’t RSVP it’s difficult to know how many to cater for.

We’re very lucky that Master Clack’s birthday is right at the end of August so we normally get great weather for his birthday and that year we again had a birthday at home with a bouncy castle #kidsobsessed. We didn’t even go with a turtles themed castle and as you can see they didn’t care!  I again used Google to search for a large wallpaper background image of the Turtles and used some Photoshop skills to create a personalised invite that I could just print out at home and created some turtles themed food labels.

Let's get Daddy!

Let’s get Daddy!

For food as it was a Ninja Turtles party we of course had….pizza! I incorporated it into an activity though by having a pizza making competition. I bought some mini bases and some different toppings put them all into bowls and let the kids create their own pizza masterpieces. Other food we had was:

  • Sewer lids (Oreos)
  • Lime jelly for Mutant Ooze
  • Turtally awesome Nachos with plenty of vibrant green guacamole
  • ‘Shredders’ Coleslaw
  • Splinter kebabs (chicken)
Having fun just playing with turtles

Having fun just playing with turtles

Turtles fancy dress was the theme and Master Clack made a very cute Leonardo. Pinterest is a great place to start with ways to be creative and cut costs. Kids are a lot less precious about the way something looks than us parents tend to be and as long as they have people to play with they’re normally happy!

For party bags, we had cake, mini haribo and turtles themed bits I’d found on party pieces and Amazon. I created a Pinterest board with ideas to get you started, have fun!

Lightening Mcqueen party

Lightening McQueen Party Ideas

Lightening McQueen Party Ideas

Master Clack was addicted, and I mean ADDICTED to Lightening McQueen and the Cars brand for a looonnnngggg time so his 3rd and 4th birthday parties where both Lightening McQueen themed. After scouring Pinterest for ideas I came up with some great, cheap ideas on how to create a Lightening McQueen themed party at home. I created a board with some of the ideas I found for you.

Birthday Boy on his big party day doing his best blue steel impression!

Birthday Boy on his big party day doing his best blue steel impression!

For the party invitation I typed into Google for a Cars wallpaper background and used Photoshop (you could use Word quite easily) to add text and a photo of Master Clack on the top to create his invite. I also used Word to create labels for the food and party games. I have done a free download of the templates here.

For the food I made it all racing car themed. Ideas like:

  • Stacked mini doughnuts with a racing flag stuck onto a cocktail stick a) keeps the doughnuts stacked up and b) look like a stack of tyres
  • Racing light jellies, I made Strawberry, Orange and Lime jelly let each layer set before adding the next layer of colour to make them look like striped jellies in the colour of traffic lights
  • Mini roll drivers – take a chocolate mini roll and some white icing. Put 4 splodges of icing onto the corners to look like wheels and use a bit in the middle to stick a Cadbury animal biscuit or now you can get Barney bear biscuits which would make all the drivers look the same. Stick the animal biscuit into the mini roll and use the icing to keep it there and voila it looks like it’s driving the mini roll
  • Traffic light crudities – use cucumber, orange and red peppers cut up and put into plastic cups for traffic light themed crudities
  • Pin wheel wraps – make wraps, roll them up and cut them into slices so they are ‘wheel shaped’
  • Nuts and bolts bowl -take peanuts and hula hoops mix into a bowl for your nuts and bolts party mix
  • Traffic light flapjacks – I bought a large tray flapjack cut it into small rectangles and used the white icing from the mini roll drivers to stick on jelly tots to make them look like traffic lights. You could use smarties (if you’re brave enough to risk the e numbers!)
  • I then bulked it out with things like bowls of nachos and dips and a Lightening McQueen birthday cake available in all large supermarkets
Some of the Cars themed party food

Some of the Cars themed party food

Again on Pinterest there are loads of great ideas for games, we had abundance of toy cars at the time and we had just bought Master Clack a little electric car for his birthday so we created a racetrack in the garden with little obstacles for the cars and had a bouncy castle and they just went wild in the garden for the day. I honestly think kids are more than happy with a bouncy castle and no they don’t care if it’s themed or not. Especially when they’re little don’t go crazy with planning games they’ll just be upset they have to come off the bouncy castle!

For the party bags I put in the obligatory slice of cake, a packet of mini haribo sweets and got some cars themed items from a website I always use for party bits www.partypieces.co.uk. Amazon also has some great party items in bulk or ebay, I decorated the room with balloons and a giant theme setter background graphic that stayed up on the wall for at least a year before I was allowed to take it down. I kept it afterwards as a plastic blanket for painting and messy play as it was easy to put in the bath and hose down, winner all round.

Spot the giant scene setter and the happy face!

Spot the giant scene setter and the happy face!

The above picture was the start of party day I think his little grin shows all the effort and planning is worth it!