Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Tuesday 31/01/2012 'Page Turner' (31/366)

A quiet day at home today so this was the only chance I got for a shot. So pleased to have reached the end of my first month with the project though!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Monday 30/01/12 'Goat' (30/366)

I've chosen this photo as my entry into The Boy and Me's weekly Project 366 link up. Click on the badge below to see the other entries or to add yours

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Silent Sunday

Sunday 29/01/12 'Party Food' (29/366)

Saturday 28/01/12 'Merlin' (28/366)

We're big Merlin fans in our house so we knew we had to visit the new Merlin Tower attraction at Warwick Castle. 

Friday 27/01/12 'Rain' (27/366)

I know I'm a bit late with these but, rest assured, they were taken on the right day even though I am just posting them now. We've had a lovely weekend in Warwickshire and this is Bud and his Daddy walking in the rain outside Coventry Cathedral on Friday afternoon. I was hoping for fine weather so I could take some nice photos of the ruins of the old cathedral but the weather was so wet that we rushed back to the car instead.


I'm linking this photo up to 'The Boy and Me's' Project 336 link-up. Click on the badge to add yours or to look at the other entries.

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Thursday 26/01/12 'Cheeks' (26/366)

First photo taken with my fab new Nikon

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Wednesday 25/01/12 'New Toy' (25/366)

This is my new toy. I've been after a new camera for ages and this was a really good price in Argos. Ideally I was going to get a DSLR but, in practice, I think a bridge camera will be a good start for me. I'll learn how to use this one before I 'graduate'. I'm really looking forward to getting to grips with it!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Mix Tape Monday #11

The lovely I Want My Mummy invites us, this week to link up and tell her a song that you hate. This is a tricky one for me, I'm quite black and white about my music and there are quite a few songs that fit the bill quite well.

I've decided to go for a song by an artist I can't warm to at all. I don't like her voice, her image or her music. If she comes onto the radio when i'm listening to it I will switch over. So, which song to pick? This one I remember being around when I was pregnant and therefore often irritable, this song was a major source of irritation.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed next week and I'll be back to talking about the music I love, until then I, reluctantly, bring you Russian Roulette by Rihanna

So, which song do you hate? Head on over to I Want My Mummy to link up by clicking the badge below.

I Want My Mummy

Monday 23/01/12 'Dove' (23/266)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Arte Ideas - Perfect Gift Suggestions

Arte Ideas are an innovative gift site who offer ethically traded items which conform to at least one of the following five requirements:-
  • An item which is partially or 100% made from recycled or vintage materials.
  • Made from Fair Trade principles in place, contributes to sustainable development for producers, workers and their communities.  Ensuring that workers from growing raw materials to manufacturing finished products can earn a fare wage and not be exploited.
  • Identifies fabrics or processes which are sustainable.  Utilising more environmentally friendly materials.
  • Working with organisations who actively seek tominimise environmental damage.  Developing relationships around the world with artisans who are highly skilled.
  • Simply, local sourced from up and coming designers in UK and Ireland.
I was really pleased to be contacted by the company as I try to look for gifts which fit into these ideas myself. I am especially keen on recycled materials and those that are locally sourced. I was invited to choose an item from their range to try out. The site splits their gifts into four different categories - mens, womens, kids and lifestyle. When you click through to each product's page it shows a badge for each of the five values that it matches with, which I found to be really useful in making my selection. I saw lots of things that I was tempted to try out but eventually selected the 'Tiny' Cutlery Set for Bud.
 
Children's cutlery has been something of a bug bear for me. We've bought quite a few different sets for Bud but  he has struggled with some of them, either the fork or spoon feels like it is an awkward shape or he hasn't been able to get a good grip on the handle when feeding himself. Obviously other parents have felt the same because some of them have got together to form a company called tumtum, this is one of their many products. 

This set offers 3 pairs of fork and spoon in three different colours, each brightly decorated with an animal's face - frog, dog or pig. The picture is shown across both handles so you can match the colour up and use all one set or mix and match to make a funny picture - half dog, half pig maybe. The cutlery is excellent quality and the handles  are ergonomically designed for little hands, it is also dishwasher safe and BPA, phthalate and PVC free which is comforting when dealing with items used with food. This set is clearly marked 'locally sourced' on the Arte Ideas website. The set retails for £14:95 and I think it would make a fantastic alternative gift for the little person in your life. Bud has used his everyday since we received them and asks for the animal that he wants when his food is ready now.

I've seen some lovely products available from Arte Ideas and have been considering them for some of the (many) family birthdays we have coming up in the next few months.

My mum would love this Myla Bag
My Baking-mad niece would love this Cupcake Baking Kit
Red Rose Daddy is always looking for new ideas for his vegetable growing and I think this Potato Planter would look fab on our patio
...and as for me, it is my birthday soon. I love this beautiful Clef Necklace and these funky Envirosax
I'd definitely recommend checking out Arte Ideas if you are looking for some unusual, and ethically produced eco-friendly gifts. Certain items are reduced at the moment so you might even find yourself a bargain.

I received the item marked with an asterisk (*) free of charge but the thoughts and opinions contained in this review are all my own.

Sunday 22/01/12 Pointing (22/366)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Saturday 21/01/12 'Relaxing' (21/366)

Mean and moody, getting distracted by the TV remote control instead of getting dressed!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Thursday 19/01/2012 'Album' (19/366)

I had an appointment today so Bud went to his Auntie's house while I went out. She makes lovely photo albums that Bud loves to look at and that is what they were doing when I returned.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wednesday 18/01/2012 Deep Sleep (18/366)

This is my entry for The Boy and Me's Project 366 Weekly Link-up. Click on the badge below to add yours and to view the other entries.
TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Tuesday 17/01/2012 'Finally Up' (17/366)

This was our Christmas present from Red Rose Daddy's Brother and Sister-in-Law. They got the photo taken as a complete surprise and then framed. I absolutely love it and we've finally got it up on the wall now.

Sorry, I'm so quiet everywhere at the moment. I'm really not feeling well at the moment but I'm determined to keep up with my Project 366. Sadly that seems to be all I am up to at the moment!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Mix Tape Monday #10

This week's link up over at I Want My Mummy asks for the song that was number one when you were born. This is a bit of a strange one for me because, I used to 'know' which song was number one when I was born until a couple of years ago when I googled it and found out that, in fact, it wasn't 'Knowing Me, Knowing You' by ABBA but instead this much less well known tune by Manhattan Transfer. I'd never even heard this song before I found out it was my birthday number one, are you familiar with it?


Red Rose Daddy manages a song which was a little bit less obscure than mine, and is one that you might remember from family weddings, I actually really like this song but he was less than impressed when I shared it with him...


Bud was born in 2010 and, I think, that was a big year for Lady Gaga so it is unsurprising that she was number one. In fact he was born when she was at number one with Beyonce and their song Telephone. I remember this being around at the time he was born and, to be honest, looking at the other number one's around the same time, he could have done a lot worse!


So, what was number one when you or your children were born? Head on over to I Want My Mummy to link up, just click the badge below.

I Want My Mummy

Monday 16/01/2012 Trolley Car (16/366)

Friday, 13 January 2012

Friday 13/01/2012 'The View' 13/366


I'm linking up to Country Kids over at Coombe Mill, pop over there to share your stories and photos of your outdoor play.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
I've chosen this photo to add to The Boy and Me's Project 366 Weekly Link up. Just click on the badge below to add yours or to look at the other entries.

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Monday, 9 January 2012

Monday 09/01/2012 - Squirrel (9/366)


Mix Tape Monday #9

Well, Boo and Me may have had a name change to I Want My Mummy but I'm happy to say that her fantastic Mix Tape Monday meme is still going strong. I look forward to participating in this one every week and am so pleased to link up for the first one of the new year.

This week we are asked for a song by our pop star first crush. We are asked who it was and, more importantly do they still make our knees weak today? Well, the recent series of Strictly Come Dancing has rekindled all kinds of buried deep feelings that I used to have for Jason Donovan and, yes, I'm afraid to admit, that I do still have the same crush on him! It's amazing what a good Argentinian Tango does for a woman!


Please head on over to I Want My Mummy and share your first crush so we can all have a good laugh. This really is a fun link-up each week.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Highs and Lows of 2011

The lovely The Diary of a Lagos Mum has tagged me in this meme which asks you to share your highs and lows of 2011. If you haven't read her blog, where have you been?

2011 wasn't the best year for us but it was my first full year of motherhood and I've loved seeing my boy grow.

1. What was your happiest event?

We had many happy events but I think the best was Bud's first birthday. Watching him celebrate with everyone he loves and being able to reflect on his first year was lovely.

2. What was the saddest thing to happen?

I was made redundant in July. I still miss the team that I worked with and I really wasn't expecting to become a stay at home mum just three months after returning to work. 

3. What was the most unlikely thing to happen that actually went ahead and did?
Getting back into live music. At the start of the year I was really sure that it would be a struggle for me to see a gig but, a combination of rekindling a friendship with an old school friend  and making a bit more time for myself means that I got to 7 gigs in 2011 and enjoyed that so much!

4. Who let you down?

Well, apart from the European Social Fund for not extending the contract I worked on? No-one really.
5. Who supported you?
Obviously Red Rose Daddy has been my main source of support, he is wonderful. A great partner and daddy, I don't know what Bud and I would do without him. We are also blessed to have a great, supportive family and friends who we can rely on for help whenever we need it.

6. Tell us something you learned.

Not to blink! Bud is learning so quickly and he changes every day. I feel like if I blink I will miss out on something so I try to give him as much time as I can and share this exciting time with him.

7. Tell us one thing that made you laugh.

Certain bloggers and tweeters that I've met in the last few months can make me cry with laughter. Red Rose Daddy can often be seen raising his eyebrows at me as I snort at the computer.

8. Tell us one thing that made you cry.

Oh goodness, I cry all the time. I was never a crier before I had Bud. The most tears were shed when my parents had their lovely Bearded Collie put to sleep in October. She was a fantastic dog and is very much missed.


9. Tell us three things your child did to make you proud.
a) He took his first steps, which quickly progressed to running, standing on one leg and climbing on everything!

 b) He has expanded his vocabulary immeasurably, I am always amazed by how many words he knows and understands. He is a real chatterbox and never stops talking. I love talking to him.


c) He has become a sunny, happy child who brings pleasure to so many people. He approaches people that he knows and chats to them, brings them a book to read or a toy to play with. I'm amazed to be raising such a confident, outgoing child and I'm proud of him every second.


10. Tell us one thing that made you proud of yourself.

You're reading it! I've loved starting my blog and making it my own. I've already had some great opportunities as a result of it and I'm looking forward to growing it further in 2012.

11. Tell us one challenge you overcame.

I became a stay at home mum. I never intended to give up work. I thought I would return to work part-time, perhaps 3 days a week and enjoy the rest of the week with Bud. In the end my staying at home was the best option for us all and, though we are not as well off, I love spending every day with my boy.

12. Is there anything you would like to change about your life in 2012.

I've said before that we'd like another baby, so fingers crossed! Other than that, I'd just like to improve my confidence, continue with my blog and complete Project 366. Nothing significant but small, achievable targets.

So, who to tag?

Looking forward to your responses!

The Titan Prophecy: Rise of the Dark One


Those of you who are familiar with Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series will immediately feel at home in the world created by AM Crawford in her debut novel, The Titan Prophecy: Rise of the Dark One, however, instead of transposing the greek myths onto modern day, Crawford's heroes time travel back and forth between the present and Ancient Greece into the thick of the action.

The book opens with two best friends, Max and Charlie, playing on the moors when they are confronted by an unidentified threat (the 'Dark One'). It soon emerges that Charlie is the subject of a prophecy and, with Max and their mysterious protector Parseus, they are soon plunged into an adventure which takes them back in time to Ancient Greece where they meet many mythological figures, including Zeus, Hades, Hephaestus, Jason and the Argonauts and Medea. They travel alongside Jason on the Golden Fleece and befriend many of the Argonauts on their quest to save the world from a destructive new war between the Gods and Titans.

I was really impressed by this novel. As mentioned, it does have certain similarities to Rick Riordan's series but I really enjoyed that this book takes you into the actual events, rather than re-inventing them for the modern day. I love Greek mythology and really appreciated the research and accuracy that Crawford has put into her story.  I think that this is a subject that many young people would find really interesting and this book is a great introduction into a whole world of stories that they could go forward and read from here onwards. The action capers along and is really fast moving. There are twists and turns around every corner and I quickly started to root for the boys on their quest.

I'd definitely recommend this novel for readers aged 11+, especially those who are fans of Rick Riordan and JK Rowling. There are echoes of Harry Potter in that Charlie is a chosen one and both series start with a prophecy concerning the main character. This book is billed as the first in a series and I will definitely be interested to read more in the future.

At the moment you can buy the book for your Kindle at just 77p which is an absolute steal. Definitely a good buy if your children have received a Kindle this Christmas and are looking for books to fill it. The paperback is priced at £7:99.

You can find The Titan Prophecy: Rise of the Dark One on Amazon and on Facebook

I received a review copy of this book free of charge but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I've Joined the Nokia Amazing Collective!

The Friday before Christmas saw me making the trek from my home to a small phone shop in Warrington, by public transport. This wasn't the best way to spend that day as I still had a million and one things to do for Christmas and it was also raining torrentially so I knew I was going to get soaked. My destination, the little phone shop, was well worth the journey as I had been chosen to receive Nokia's new Lumia 800 smartphone and to join their Amazing Collective. I had been invited to go and pick it up and receive a demonstration of my new phone so off I went. In doing so I became part of Nokia's Amazing Collective, a community of early adopters of the Nokia Lumia who will use their new phones to answer various challenges posted by the company.


I've mentioned before my antipathy towards my old phone, the Blackberry Curve 8250, it just didn't do anything it was supposed to. I've been thinking about a smartphone to replace this one but, as I wasn't due an upgrade until August, all I could do was look. I've long been a fan of Nokia phones. I used to have an N97 which was an amazing phone, I loved it but I upgraded to a Sony Ericcson and then the cursed Blackberry simply because Nokia didn't really seem to be competing with their range. All that has now changed. In February 2011 Nokia and Microsoft announced that they were going to team up to produce a new phone, to challenge the Apple iPhone and the various Google Android handsets available. The Lumia 800 is the result.


So, inital thoughts? I love my new phone. The interface is really easy to use and I've been able to link up all my various accounts to it with ease. The bliss of being able to tweet from my phone is amazing having been without an app for this with the now departed Blackberry. The home screen (pictured above) features a People hub where you can easily see what people are saying on Twitter and Facebook (or Windows Live, Linkedin etc) I generally use this to keep an eye on Facebook as I have downloaded the dedicated Twitter application. You also have a 'Me' button and this is brilliant. It updates every time you are mentioned in a tweet or receive a notification on Facebook, I check this all the time and find it so useful.

The camera is excellent. I've been using it to take photos quite a lot this week as I misplaced by digital camera. It has 8MP to play with and auto focus, great for taking photos out and about. There is also a dedicated camera button on the side of your phone which makes it easy to get snapping. I'm going to have a play around with the camera to see what I can actually achieve with it and will post again in the future.

Lots of smartphones have questionable quality when it comes to the basics - like making a phone call. I have a friend with an iPhone who, whenever he phones me on it, spends much of the time complaining about how irritating it is to make calls with. The Lumia 800 has none of this, the line is crystal clear and the options for your call are all visible on the screen when you are on a call so you can press hold, switch to loudspeaker or anything else you require with ease.

My Lumia 800 has lots of other apps pre-installed which I haven't had chance to play with yet. Nokia Drive is included and, as we have broken our Sat Nav unit I intend to try this out when we go away for the weekend at the end of the month. Again, I'll blog about it and let you know my thoughts. I'll also be making use of Local Scout and the Maps app then.

I plan to share my responses to some of the Amazing Collective challenges. So far, we have had challenges asking for photos of people sleeping, food-7 lookalikes, Christmas decorations, and dancing amongst others. Every time I complete a challenge I can upload my new album to Facebook for my friends to like. When I do so I win points for the leaderboard where overall prizes, and some challenge-based prizes, can be won.

I'm so excited to have my Nokia Lumia 800 and looking forward to sharing it's functions with you, and the fun I have with it through The Amazing Collective on Facebook.

I received the Nokia Lumia 800 free of charge from Nokia in return for promoting it through my blog and Facebook. The thoughts and opinions in this post are all my own.

Sunday 08/01/2012 Saving (8/366)

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Saturday 07/01/2012 Bookcase (7/366)

Not my best shot. Can't find the camera so just using the phone and I couldn't work out the lighting at all.
Anyway, we have been de-Christmasing and this is Bud's brand new bookcase so he can get to all his books himself and see what he has, rather than digging through the plastic box that they used to be housed in.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Thursday 05/01/2012 On/Off (5/366)

Today Bud discovered that our bedside lamps are touch lamps!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Listography - Top 5 Photos of 2011

Kate Takes 5's prompt for this week's Listography asks for your top 5 photos of 2011. I couldn't resist joining in with this one as, although I feel like I have not been taking enough photos of Bud and I'm hoping Project 366 will remedy that, I do have some photos I'd love to share with you. I'm really gutted that I don't have the photos from my summer holiday as I lost my camera containing them on a trip to Chester Zoo. I'll never make the mistake of forgetting to download my photos again. Most of the photos are from the first part of the year as, after losing my camera and then being so busy, I haven't taken as many as I did in the first half of 2011.

My bouncing boy on a cold January trip to the park. Just 9 months old.

It's amazing what certain supermarkets sell these days! March. 11 months.

Are you sure this outfit suits me Mummy? Easter. 12 months.

Playing football in the park. July. 15 months.

Bud's Second Christmas. December 2011. 20 months.

Just look how my boy has grown!

Photobucket