London Escaped Vampire Slayer escape room – Review

First of all I want to make it clear that this was my very first time in an escape room ever, so this review is based solely on that one experience rather than a comparison to other escape rooms of other styles.

London Escaped have a couple of different rooms to experience such as the Da Vinci and The Prisoner, but I went with a lovely group of escape room veterans via Love London Pop Ups to give their new Vampire Slayer game a try.

So, as someone who hasn’t been to an escape room before I was literally going in blind with absolutely no clue of what to expect. I knew there would be clues and puzzles to work out and obviously you are under a time pressure to ‘escape’. We were a group of 7 people and for this game they advise between 2-8 people but it can accommodate up to 10 people if necessary and it lasts for 60 minutes. We were there for a 4pm start and at that point in the reception area it wasn’t busy and it was great for a novice like me to get a sneak peek into some of the other rooms.

At the start we are given some props and a walkie talkie, told the general story and advised to think outside the box!

When we went in I took a moment to just step back and observe the more experienced players in action while one of our group read out what was written on our scroll ( this is the general lowdown on the story and prompts to guide you into thinking about what needs attempting first etc).

Obviously I don’t want to give any spoilers away for anyone thinking of doing it, however, I will say that at times this particular room was a little confusing with some things not making any sense. At these points I stepped back and let the more experienced players take the lead so I could at least try and learn something to take forward into other escape games in the future. We did in fact ask for clarification on 2 separate occasions in order to go forward with the game. All of this at no point dampened my novice escape room spirits as I was also getting swept up with watching how people worked out clues and took leading roles in projecting the game forward………………..this in itself is a bit of an eye opening crash course into how others see things that either you don’t, or how they see and think differently and can therefore keep the game going successfully.

So, for me I was very thankful I had this merry band of escape room veterans that helped us actually ‘escape’ the Vampire Slayer room in 54 minutes *insert proud face and don’t mention the fact they did all the work!

After exiting and chatting about the game I was told by a few in the group that this particular room was probably not the best one for a novice to pop her escape room cherry in!

Did it put me off?……………………………..not for a second. I enjoyed it all as an overall experience and it definitely, in my case, got this 49 year old’s grey matter working overtime.

Would I do another escape room?………………………ABSOLUTELY. This has given me a thirst to definitely do more.

So I would love to know if you have you been to London Escaped?

What room did you try?

Also,if you do go, let me know if you escaped or were turned to dust for the rest of eternity!

 

** this experience was gifted for review purposes. These views are just my honest opinion of my experience there on that particular day**

**Prices start from around £30 per person and games can be booked online……but check out their offers available on the website before booking – they have a school holiday offer advertised on there at the moment**

Review- Buck Buck Games – The Hunt for the Smoking Caterpillar

I was recently invited to attend the new immersive theatre game, The Hunt for the Smoking Caterpillar, by Buck Buck Games in their residency at The Owl and the Hitchhiker pub on Holloway Road, London.

I’ve never really attended anything immersive theatre related, or escape room related before so I literally had no idea what I was walking into, but the Buck Buck Games website describe it as ‘ Our event games and characters combine escape rooms, immersive theatre and murder mystery with fun fuelled challenges’ so I thought I would take my husband along for unique evening out!

The pub itself is a complete hidden treasure in, it’s quirkiness is apparent as soon as you walk in ( it has hairdryers all hanging from the ceiling above the bar!). It has a table tennis table around the back of the bar and there were a group of people playing card games at one of the tables and a couple in one of the booth seating areas playing monopoly……….so not your typical pub in any sense. They have a great menu ( our plan was to eat before we played but unfortunately the traffic was not on our side that evening and we didn’t have enough time) including an extensive vegan selection, and although we didn’t get the chance to eat, the food that was coming out of the kitchen looked very good.

Anyway, on to the games. As we arrived and got a drink we could see more groups turning up and congregating at the bottom of the stairs were the games were advertised.

We were met by one of the characters who came down and rounded us up and gave us our little bag of ‘golds’ and the rules to play by. Then we were taken upstairs where we met the Baron who explained loosely what we had to do ( get as many ‘golds’ as we could by solving the clues as well as bartering and bribing others), he warned us to watch out for the ‘serpent’ and when we heard the horn being blown we had to ‘drop to the deck’ to escape the serpent and if we didn’t or we were too slow we would have to forfeit some of our collected golds. Believe me this is no easy feat when you use a walking stick like me, but there was no way I was getting caught out……………..and either I was a bloody fast mover, or they took pity on me, but I didn’t get caught out! My competitive nature must have kicked in at that point.

Now, what I don’t want to do is give anything away that would be considered a spoiler so I didn’t take any pictures inside the rooms. What I can tell you though that this immersive game is completely BONKERS BUT BRILLIANT! Bonkers as in the characters were fabulous at spinning the story and getting you to fully immerse yourself in what was going on, however mad it was………….and it was completely mad. There was about 20 of us in the group we were in and some of them were brilliant at getting involved ( I’m looking at you lot in the dunces hats that evening). This, I can imagine, only makes the game much more fun for all involved. My husband was sooooooo far out of his comfort zone at the start ( not having done anything like this before) but once we got started on the clues and what was going on he was fully into it and we had such a laugh between us. Do not be afraid to barter with or blackmail the other people there, it can make all the difference to what you find out and what alliances can be made – that’s all I’m going to say.

I can happily say that in our game we did in fact find the smoking caterpillar and I did receive my Certificate of Cooperation!

If I tell you anything else I think it would spoil it though so I’m going to leave it there. We loved it. It was a new experience for us and we were so glad we were invited along to review it. Honestly, if you are looking for something different and completely bonkers to do then I cannot recommend this enough. Get a big group of you along for a great night out or just go as a couple like we did, either way leave any sense of normality at the door, let yourself just enjoy the madness going on around you and I guarantee you’ll have great fun.

If you get a chance to go early to have some food in the pub first, or stay after to enjoy a few drinks in a great friendly atmosphere afterwards, it’s worth the trip.

These were some of the characters there that evening ( although I’m sure these must change depending on when you go obviously), these guys were amazing at getting everyone involved and into the story………….they work bloody hard too as it must be difficult to keep very enthusiastic participants on track in order to finish in time and yet still stay fully in character! ( the game lasts around an hour and a drink is included once you are taking up to the room). Word of warning it gets very hot up there with all of the participants in the rooms together and we did attend on the hottest day on record! The good news is the actual pub downstairs is gloriously air conditioned and believe me you will want a drink and a cool down when you come out.

This is me and my husband with the ‘mad hatter’ style character- she was our meet and greet at the start and played a great part throughout

 

This was Polly the Barons daughter………this guy was brilliant and completely bonkers!

 

This is the Baron, don’t be fooled by the smile – he takes no prisoners………..in fact at the start when he ushered everyone to the front I was too nervous to go- so I stayed at the back and drunk my gin!

 

So, have you been to anything like this before? I’d love to know what you think………..and if you do go to The Hunt for the Smoking Caterpillar let me know how you got on!

What to buy older teenage boys for Christmas

I’d like to think this is a gift guide with a difference!

First of all, anything I have suggested here I have bought my teens through the years or I know of friends who have bought their boys similar. Secondly, none of it has been sent to me to be promoted, so any companies I mention here I have actually used or bought from them over the last 7 or 8 years.

I also think that teen boys are much harder to buy for than girls ( probably because I don’t have girls but I would imagine with clothes, perfumes and makeup and jewellery most things can be covered and they are so expensive too so a designer item could certainly be covered as a main Christmas present!) and I appreciate I could totally be wrong about this, but I have only experience in buying for boys in this house and so I think that is where my expertise lies.

I also do not like giving my boys money! That’s just a personal choice I make and I also think they like it that way. Any family members who buy for them instead give them money so they always have cash to put towards something more expensive in the sales. We also aren’t the type of bargain hunters that go out first thing on Boxing Day to buy stuff in the sales either (again our personal choice). Therefore, I like to buy my boys things I know they want as a main present and then fill it out with the usual extras like, underwear, t-shirts, books, cd’s or films etc. That way we all still enjoy a chilled out morning with everyone opening their pressies etc as we did when they were little – and again they love it that way! Keep on Reading!

So, what’s next for Mrs B?

I’ve certainly been asking myself that for a while now. I’m a mum of 2 boys but they are now 20 and 17 (almost18), finding their own independence, as one is at uni and the other is at 6th form and also working a part time job. I have been married for 24 years and my hubby is a shift worker so that means I now spend the majority of my time alone! Due to my illness and chronic pain I’m no longer able to work a conventional job (I was a driving instructor), but I’m lucky that blogging and running social media accounts can be done in pj’s even on a bad day if necessary.

Yet when the boys where younger my life was busy (illness or not) with after school clubs, kids parties, meeting up with friends in the holidays etc, and although I am still officially a taxi service, a cook and a bank, my life is much more subdued. That in itself gives you time…………………..LOTS of time! Time to ponder and think about your own role in life. Yes I am still a wife and a mum but I am also ME. So, with 48 looming very quickly (and my hubby turning 50 last year!) I am starting to think about my time. How do I want to spend my time now my kids are off doing their own thing most of the time? Read more

Smiggle- Gift Voucher Giveaway

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I was invited recently to the Smiggle branch in Bluewater to open the next window on their Christmas advent calendar and see what treat could be waiting for me.

Anyone that has been to a Smiggle store will know it’s an explosion of colour and a total must for all stationary lovers. The store there is not huge but is very well stocked with both lots on the shelves and underneath the display tables ( so I cannot see you having any trouble getting a particular item you may be after).

At the moment they have lots of their fabulous Christmas Advent Stockings, that retail at £28. That may sound a little extravagant but is in line with Lego or even Yankee candle (if you buy yourself one!). However, the goodies that are in the advent would cost around £40 if they were bought individually, so a bargain when you consider that and also a great alternative to just more chocolate.

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There are the typical colour assumptions, pink for girls and blue for boys, but there are also lots of alternatives that can be gender neutral. Some of the bits can work out quite expensive but there are also some fabulous gifts that would be perfect for Christmas presents that work out at just £10-15 which is very budget friendly.

I particularl
I particularly liked this design on a black background and perfect for little monster lovers!

There is also a wonderful little colouring area set up in this store which was in use most of the time I was in the store and it was constantly busy in there. I was given the chance to peel off the next advent sticker from the window outside to get the next prize ( which I will include with the gift voucher giveaway as a little extra, it’s a Goo Glopper………………!

The store manager there, Linda, has a great manner about her and she will find out if it’s your birthday and get the whole store to sing Happy Birthday to you, I heard the singing even before I reached the store as I came down the escalator towards it. You will recognise her as she has a huge whistle hanging around her neck and she’s not afraid to use it- so be warned.

So I have a lovely £25 gift card and my Goo Glopper from behind the advent to giveaway to all you lovely stationary loving peeps. All you have to do is comment below with what you would use the voucher for and fill in the normal Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jump In, Tonbridge- Review

I have seen more and more of these style of trampoline parks popping up all over the place taking over (almost) from the generation of kids indoor playcentres, with the difference being that us adults can also now ‘pay and play’!

We were invited along to Jump In trampoline park Tonbridge in Kent over the half term,  which has just recently opened in fact. This one was on an industrial estate ( which most of these places are anyway) and although there was a decent sised sign on the outer gate we really had to look hard to make sure we were in the right place as this was the sign on the building itself….

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We were advised to register everyone in our group that were actually going onto the trampolines and those under 18 need to be signed in by an adult on the waiver form.

As my eldest was home from uni we decided to all go on and try it ( yes even me!) but unfortunately for us we were restricted on our time that week and so were there around 3pm, and obviously at those times it was full of young children from toddlers up to teens. Thankfully we are not a family to be put off and we went on anyway. I am sure the later you go the older the kids/teens would be ( it is open until 9pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends -Fri and Sat) but like I said we were a little restricted that week working around my eldest.

The venue itself you could tell had not been open long, the walls were a clean crisp grey and everything had that newly painted/ decorated feel. Once you register and book in and pay, you are given your grip socks which you need if you are going on the trampolines. The sessions are one hour long at £12 inc your grip socks with a second hour available for £6 (prices for under 5’s are reduced ). So at £12 a child it could be kind of expensive with more than one child- however, I guarantee you they will come off totally knackered…………… so worth it if you think about it! We were also given a coloured wrist band as it was peak time in half term and very busy, but I imagine this is the only way to actually keep a restriction on how many people they are allowed on at any one time. Then we were sent into a holding room to view a 4 minute ‘Do’s and Don’t’s’ video before entering the trampoline area itself.

There are small lockers available if you are all going on for you to pop your phones/ bags/ valuables etc into which you get your money back from each time.

As you walk through you are into the seating/ cafe area on the same level (think normal playcentre and you will get an idea of what to expect) and then if you are going on the trampoline area which is completely raised there is a ramp walkway to get on there. It is still easy to see your children from the cafe and there is a small walkway all along that you can go up to check on them if you want.

Like I say we all went on and had a ball. I lasted about 20-30 minutes before I was completely shattered and went for a coffee from the cafe ( ladies be warned Tena ladies would be very handy if you are jumping!! Just saying). Our 2 teens stayed on there the whole time! There was an area unfinished in the top corner which was bordered off from the rest of the park, it was set in lower and looked like it was going to be used for a dodge ball area ( I could be wrong on that but it did look like it). They also have a small 2 hoop basketball area which you queue for to go and have a try- using the trampolines to get the bounce and height to help you get the ball in the hoop- looked good fun. There is also an under 5’s small area bordered off near the cafe area. There is also an area at the top end where you have obstacles to get past over a pit filled with sponge blocks- string ladders to climb up and ‘gladiator’ style jousting on a slim walkway were you are given head gear to put on and bash your opponent with a large soft paddle to knock them off into the pit.

All in all we had a fun time, next time we would definitely book an evening slot so the age group would be older and more suitable for teens and adults alike without worrying that when you jump you are going to unknowingly fling a young child about 10ft in the air! They also run exercise classes which I imagine would be amazing fun and great exercise- my hubby and I can confirm our legs felt like lead the next day so this would be a great form of cardio exercise! It’s definitely something we all enjoyed and said e would do again……….and lets face it most teens don’t want to do anything with their parents so were pleased they said they would go back again.

Unlike normal playcentres though it is advisable to pre book your slot online before you go as once they reach their maximum amount of people at that time the slot will no longer be available for obvious health and safety reasons. You also get to keep your grip socks after the first time so a 1 hour slot reduces to £10 an hour when you bring those socks back to re use them each time.

If you fancy trying it then just check out their website here for more details on pricing/ times/ classes/ parties  etc.

 

Phobophobia, The Ventriloquist Nightmare Show at the London Tombs

Last week I had the bizarre pleasure of visiting the opening of the Phobophobia , The Ventriloquist Nightmare show at the London Tombs. I hadn’t been at the tombs before and to be honest I wasn’t sure of what to expect, however, this show has been put together especially for the half term and in particular the run up to Halloween.

Now I love my ‘jump scare’ horror films and to be honest any sort of horror film, as does my teen son, but that does not mean that I wouldn’t be scared. My husband does not ‘do’ horror in any way and looking back I cannot believe I actually got him to go first in our group when we entered!

The evening started with drinks ( which were definitely needed before entering the show) and socialising with large reptiles, so look away now if you do not like snakes……….

This is me after a glass of wine pretending to be brave!
This is me after a glass of wine pretending to be brave!

Everyone had been given a group number when they came in and we ended up in the last group of the night………………..possibly not the greatest thing as our anticipation grew seeing others coming out looking less than calm.

Anyway, when it was our turn we were ‘welcomed’ in by this rather interesting ‘doctor’….

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Then after his little welcoming chat where he talked about ‘The Master’ a lot we were left to navigate the route on our own……………………yes that’s when I totally pushed my husband to the front and made him go through first! We only had six of us in total in the group which meant that whenever anything happened, or when someone jumped out or chased us ( I kid you not!) it actually meant we were all affected……………………………….. and take my word for it the fear is definitely contagious.

I could tell you everything that happened but I do think that would ruin the experience. It is all about the not knowing that creates the anticipation and fear. Needless to say, you may come out sweaty, dishevelled and weighing half a stone lighter than before and unable to talk because you have lost your voice by screaming ( or that could have just been me). It is not a 5 minute experience, we tried to work out how long it lasted and we reckoned around 20- 25 minutes in total, which may not sound long but believe me in the dark, with people scaring you and chasing you it is a VERY long time!

We also took our 16 year old son ( who also loves his jump scares) who went round with a young lady we didn’t know clinging to him for safety which he found hilarious. However, I will say now this show is strictly over 16’s and having done it I can see why. It’s intense to say the least and your teen will definitely need to be into this sort of thing before you decide to go.

We all loved it, like I said at the start the fear is contagious, you will definitely be kept on your toes, and it is best not to be claustrophobic either as there is also a short walk  ‘squeeze through’ that could cause your already panicked self to freak the hell out………….just saying.

If this sounds right up your scary street then take a little look at this video they have put together to get a feel for the experience, you can also book tickets here but you will need to be quick as this particular show is only available this week and runs until 31st Oct 2016.

Go on try it if you dare……….

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The Ideal Home Show at Christmas in London

This I am very excited about and thankfully only have a week to wait. This years Ideal Home Show at Christmas will be taking place at Olympia London for the first time ever. The UK’s biggest Christmas exhibition will be open from the 25th – 29th of November to provide everything you could possibly need in the run up to the festive season, from over 600 exhibitors showcasing top Christmas shopping inspiration, a plethora of celebrity appearances and a Christmas bandstand hosting live entertainment……………c’mon you Christmas lovers what more could you need?
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I’m feeling festive already and cannot wait to see the venue transformed into a winter wonderland. There will be exhibitors across 7 sectors, as well as a host of festive favourite celebrities including Gino D’Acampo, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Olly Smith and Katie Piper who will be making her Christmas show debut and  experts will be on hand at the show offering their own festive hints and tips to make your Christmas Ideal.

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There will be live entertainment for visitors to enjoy as they shop, a wide range of expert talks and advice,  a food & drink theatre featuring top tips from celebrity chefs, and even a champagne bar as well ( so that’s me sorted then!).

The Ideal Home Show at Christmas sponsored by Gocompare.com has everything you could possibly need to create the perfect Christmas all under one roof! So, for a chance to be part of history and experience Christmas for the first time at Olympia London, get yourself a ticket!

Tickets

To book tickets log on to www.idealhomeshowchristmas.co.uk or call 0844 209 7330.  For Group bookings call: 0844 412 4650

Weekday Adult £12.00
Weekend Adult £14.00
Weekday Concession (Over 60’s) £10.00
Weekend Concession (Over 60’s)     £12.00
Children (Under 15) go free when accompanied by an adult      

Timings for Ideal Home Show at Christmas:

Wednesday 25th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Thursday 26th November 2015 10am – 9pm

Friday 27th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Saturday 28th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Sunday 29th November 2015 10am – 5pm

I am looking forward to spotting some lovely new Christmassy bits to add to my ever growing collection that I manage to add to each year. Our decorations go up at the start of December and I love the festive run up to the big day itself. However, I do think my OH may disown me if I buy any more fairy lights for him to put up…………………………………… so watch this space.

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Some Easy Craft Ideas For Kids This Christmas

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As my boys are now 17 and 15 years old this is something I am starting to miss. We used to do quite a lot on the run up to the festive season and even made lots of sweet treat pressies like the hot chocolate cones, decorated biscuits and cakes. Once they hit mid teens the enthusiasm for crafting waned and it is definitely something that I miss these days ( I expect I have to wait until I become a granny- although I am in no rush for that just yet!). My 15 year old however, will still decorate his own bedroom and will happily make Christmas paper chains if he is in the right mood……..and he won’t thank me for telling you that! I always think doing Christmas crafts starts all the build up and excitement, any time from Oct/ Nov all parents are already talking ‘Father Christmas’ to the kids and the crafts become an extension of that, I still have their school home made decorations too.

Take a look below for some fabulous and EASY craft ideas to get you started:

Some Easy Craft Ideas For Kids This Christmas

Christmas is the time for kids to enjoy and rejoice. This is the time when they get time off from school and are able to spend quality time with parents. So most of the time parents try to bring in new craft ideas that they can enjoy with their kids while preparing for Christmas. You can even find many craft products for your kids at Baker Ross.

Christmas stocking

  • Take a felt cloth and cut two pieces out of it in the form of socks.
  • Now sew or staple them together in such a way that top remains open.
  • Stick the sides with lace to hide the staple and use felt pieces and buttons to decorate the socks.

Reindeer’s

  • Use patterned paper to cover cardboard tubes.
  • Now cut a triangle for reindeer head and two small and big oval shapes for ears from paper.
  • Now paste the small one inside the big one and fold them in half. Now paste these oval ears on the two sides of the triangle.
  • Now paste the triangle on the cardboard.
  • You can have antlers prepared for your deer using pipes and straws.

Christmas tree with cones

  • Take cone water cup and paint it with green colour.
  • Now use ribbon or rick rack to wrap around it.
  • Now decorate it with pom-poms.

Snowmen

  • Cut the shape of some snowmen out of felt cloth.
  • Now prepare some hats for snowmen from some coloured felt.
  • Now glue the hats on the snowmen.
  • Put holes inside the snowmen and pass a string through it.
  • So you will have a series of snowmen together.

Cookies

  • Get sugar cookie dough for your kid.
  • Roll them and ask your kids to cut different shapes out of it.
  • Bake the cookie and now decorate them with cream cheese or peanut butter.

Kids with strong motor skills grow up to become active and intelligent. Different art lessons and craft activities helps kids to improve their motor skills as well as strengthens the muscles of wrist and hands. Some of the ways to improve the motor skills are:

  • Playing with play dough helps kid to use its hands to stretch and squeeze, thus strengthen their hand muscles. They also develop their sensory experience.
  • Painting helps in improving eye and hand coordination. So why not give your child a paper and paint brush to start working on it.
  • Drawing and using colour pencils also helps to improve the motor skills in kids. Moreover, they learn to hold the pencil using the forefinger and thumb.
  • Making craft items helps the child to widen their imagination and bring in creative ideas.

Kids should be encouraged to get involved in more of such craft and art lessons. Click here to get these products for less from your favourite stores.

What are your favourite crafts to do with your kids at Christmas?

Wool obsessed………..

I do have a wool obsession and I totally admit to it- but this time I’m not talking about me!

I have 2 cats at the moment and had another before the youngest came  but he unfortunately is no longer with us. My eldest cat Tilly, is 5yrs old and during that time I have always been a knitter, this means I have stashed wool everywhere, and I mean everywhere. However, not once has she bothered to even take it under her notice. Our second cat George when he was alive only bothered when I was actually trying to knit as the slight movement of the ball of wool would be too tempting.

Now our youngest cat, Minnie is a total minx. Not only does she love a ball of wool but she can sniff them out at a hundred paces and can find them and take them for a walk wherever I try to hide them and believe me I really do have to hide them now.

Here she is looking like butter wouldn't melt in her favourite sleeping spot ......
Here she is looking like butter wouldn’t melt in her favourite sleeping spot ……

Do not be fooled by the lazy appearance, she had just worn herself out while I had been out. I came back to find this…..

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Not just the one ball of wool, normally the red one that she finds tucked away under a desk in my bedroom ( that one is like a little surrogate baby to her), Oh no she went to town and decided to get through a plastic bag full of wool that I have been using to make a crocheted blanket with…….

This bag was tied closed with everything inside!
This bag was tied closed with everything inside!

It can be such a pain in the arse at times especially when you are using the wool to make something for someone, but equally it is a bit cute when she sneaks downstairs with a ball of wool in her gob with the strand of wool leading all the way up two flights of stairs!! We have tried letting her have the red ball to play with but she is never satisfied with that and I can find chomped balls of wool downstairs, up on the landing, in the boys rooms, and up a second set of stairs in my room. I need something cat proof……………………… like a whole separate house for my wool stash to be safe ( not sure the hubby would agree to that one though). I suppose it could be worse, she could bring me presents of another kind, like dead things and that would NOT be good.

This post is linking up with: 

ANIMALTALES