Sunday, 29 April 2012

365Project - Week 17

What a wet week of weather it was.

Five Go Blogging 365project Week 17

Willing a self-filling coffee pot. 
Wild flowers that won't wilt or be washed.
Walking on the wild side and winning awards.
Watching wasted water fall from white pipes.
Wanting for wellies on Wednesday.
Wonderstruck at watercoloured rainbow skies.
Wet wipes by Warhol

Through what windows of wonder did you watch?

Let's find out at The Boy and Me

If you want to see any of my 365project photos in more detail, please pop over to my 365project page x

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Silent Sunday

beavers hiking badge

Mocha Beanie Mummys Silent Sunday on LAB

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Saturday is Caption Day

I have taken a trip down memory lane this week for my regular Saturday Caption.  Any guesses who this is?

little girl drinking from tankard

She is a bit older now, and can handle her drink marginally better but still has no fashion sense and flashes her knickers when under the influence.

Time for a caption before I embarrass myself any further!

And save some of your witticisms for the other SatCap entries over at Mammasaurus.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


I wasn't really bothered by the Olympics.
I'm not a great sports fan, either watching or partaking.
I probably should have shown a bit of interest, and tried to get tickets so that I could take the Big One. Then he could look back in years to come and say, Yes. I was there.
Instead I was very casual about the whole thing.

Until Friday last week.

When this man ran passed the end of my road.

olympic torch

And that is not a giant Cornetto in his hand. It is in fact the actual Olympic Torch (unlit).

They were holding a rehearsal through the area testing security, logistics and timings and the route literally passes the end of my road. So we can nip out without the need for camping stools, flasks of tea or survival blankets.

This chap isn't the actual official torchbearer for the real thing though. He was a stand-in. Name unknown. Our real torchbearer is Simon Hales who story is very humbling if you have a moment to take a look.

The result of the rehearsal? They were 20 minutes late getting to Stamford. Tut! And I am now a little bit excited about the Olympics.

Roll on 3rd July when the Olympic Torch (lit) passes by again.

I wonder if any of the other entrants into this weeks Gallery have Olympic tickets?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

National Stationery Day

Today, 24th April 2012, is National Stationery Day.

I love stationery.

The feel of paper in my hand. The joy of lists, notes, plans.
So notebooks are my friend.

Meet my friends.

notebooks, national stationery day

Ahem, technically 2 of these notebooks are the Mr's but he prefers scraps of paper for his jottings and rather than see a notebook gather dust, neglected on a shelf, I have taken it upon myself to stroke them, occasionally flick through their pages and one day, even, possibly, *pauses for dramatic effect* write in them.

At the front you have 'Inspirations and Ideas' notebook belonging to the Mr, leather bound, tissue thin paper and currently devoid of inspirations or ideas.
Nestled behind that is my bargain Filofax complete with German diary, and notes section bursting with blog post ideas.
Then there is my Pucci print inspired notebook, overflowing with scraps of paper, all holding the possible key to my success, and some shopping lists. There may also be a receipt of two.
Next I have a vintage model. The notebook I started in the early 90's to record my book reviews. Geek-ish I know, but in the days before Goodreads I would write a little review of the books I read.
After that there is the Beano notebook. I bought this for the Mr in which he could keep notes of importance rather than on scraps of paper. It remains unused. I am adopting it.
I have an Orla Kiely notebook which I will be used once Pucci is full. It is bigger and I have a small concern it won't fit in my handbag easily, so as gorgeous as it is, it may be knocked down in the pecking order by a yet to be discovered alternative model.
A special notebook is next. Cappuccino coloured, suede bound, gold edged, cream papered and waiting for THE book. THE novel. Handwritten in ink. One day.
Finally in the stash is a leather envelope. Not a notebook but luscious and deserving of its place on the shelf, containing handmade paper and envelopes. Perfect for special letters to special people.

I really have no idea why there is a National Stationery Day, except to drive sales in Paperchase possibly, but I have enjoyed collecting my notebooks together, reminding myself of their significance and prompting an uncontrollable desire to go shopping at Paperchase.

Do you have any significant notebooks, and what's in them? I promise I wont tell!

Monday, 23 April 2012


Well I've tried plan A, B, C, (need I go on?) ...G and H and now I'm at Plan I. Or to get with the technology, iPlan. Catchy huh?

This plan involves making loads of money in a very short time so I can retire from domestic servitude and join the ladies who lunch safe in the knowledge there is a cleaner at home polishing the melamine and a nanny entertaining the Wee One so he doesn't feel compelled to play with scissors or draw on walls.

  • Win a game show. I know someone who has done this. She enjoyed the fun and thrill of the show, won a very nice cash prize but she hasn't retired on it. As much as this could help with a quick fix of cash and may provide a holiday, it is not going to enable me to lunch out every day for the rest of my life. It also requires a certain degree of intelligence which I may have once owned but has since been eroded by seven years of cbeebies. Mastermind. Specialist subject: Cbeebies 2004 to present.
  • Invent something awesome like a Dyson or Micro scooter. Flaws in this plan include a lack of any engineering or design skills, lack of initial capital investment for research, testing and marketing, and, oh yes, an idea!
  • Write a best-selling novel that is then made into a movie netting millions at the box office. That is Plan C and D and is still work in progress. I once had a boyfriend who was a script writer. He sold it to someone big in Hollywood. Had a few trips to LA on expenses and received a nice advance. That was the last anyone ever heard of his script.
  • Become an actress. I understand that I would have to start off as an extra, or at least get into theater as something other than box office girl, but as a 5 year old girl I was told I should be on the stage and as a 16 year old I was advised (by parents who thought they knew better) to turn down the offer of Juliette as O Levels would be more valuable. So far, I have yet to see this theory pay out. Has a 43 year old mother of three ever made it as an actress? I could be the first!
  • Become a fashion designer. Well I can sew. That's a start.

After considering these options, and as a woman, I am going to multitask.

The answer is right there.

Write a best-selling novel about a game show winning 43 year old mother of three who invests her winnings in a revolutionary new must-have dressmaking innovation, which is turned into a movie, in which I star, dressed in costumes designed by myself.

Obvious when you think about it. How can it fail?

How will you/did you make your fortune? I promise not to steal your idea ;)

Sunday, 22 April 2012

365project Week 16

This week was all about seeking a little colour in my otherwise grey days.

The little dot of red on muddy wheels.
A dumper full of coloured balls, tipped.
Sparkles through rain drops precariously suspended on a yellow washing line.
Colourful umbrellas marching to school.
A golden torch.
Vintage lego in vintage faded colours but still bright enough to raise a smile.
A rare glimpse of the sun's rays on the back door.

Five Go Blogging 365project Week 16

Where did you find colour this week?

Now over to The Boy And Me for more 365projects.

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Silent Sunday

Shed reflections

Mocha Beanie Mummys Silent Sunday on LAB

Friday, 20 April 2012

Friday is the new Saturday

I thought I had lost a day when I looked through my blog reader and spotted loads of Saturday is Caption Day posts today (Friday) but it seems that Mammasaurus was getting ahead of herself due to her impending blogging tour of Britain for #blogitforbabies, the brilliantly inspired fund raising event for Save The Children.

Here is the #blogitforbabies website explaining all the why what who and when questions.

Compelling aren't they? So try to do a little bit to help the fund raising cause if you can :)

Meanwhile there is another child that needs saving... from himself, as you can see here:

Caption this naughty chap caught in the act (hence the slightly dodgy focus) and then pop back to Mammasaurus who has loads more photos seeking your captioning skills.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

How To Create Photo Collages in Photoscape

So Picnik has edited it's last photo. Orton-ished its last pic, HDRed its last snap and I am...
... so over it! Hah!

Because I have Picmonkey instead.


...they haven't launched collages yet, which is a little favourite of mine so I have had to resort to other sites for my cut and paste fix.

I asked what software the good folks of Love All Blogs used for collages and realised that there wasn't a simple answer that had the features and effects of Picnik AND collages. PicMonkey are promising collages soon but in the meantime I have had a scout around and found Photoscape to be my favourite.

Photoscape can do simple collages and it is very easy to use. You do have to download the software which is FREE but it is then limited to the device you have it loaded to. Photoscape has loads of other great stuff too like editing effects, text, a few decorative bits and bobs, animations and screen grabs which is handy if you are going to do a quick tutorial like this:

Ta-da - Photoscape

First step is to locate your photos using the navigator on the left hand side of the screen

photoscape locate images

Then choose your collage layout from the large selection on the right hand side of the screen. Think about how many images you want to include, baring in mind the more your have the less detail you will see in the finished collage on your website. If you have spare space you can always use it to add text and title your collection.

photoscape collage layout

You need to adjust the size of the finished collage by clicking on the little acorn. What is the best size for your website layout? You can also change the aspect so make it portrait or landscape.

photoscape collage size and aspect

Now the fun part of arranging your photos. Think about colours and themes of the pictures so that the finished collage is balanced. For example if you have a selection of colour and black and white shots, you may want to keep them mixed up so that all the colour isn't over on one side.

Photoscape arrange collage images

You can adjust the position of the images, because the size of the photo may not exactly fit into the space you have allocated it. You can also move photos around or delete them until you are happy with the arrangement.

Photoscape adjust photo position

Final tweaks now. Increase or decrease the margin between images, adjust the roundness of the corners, change the background colour, add frames to the images or add a filter effect to each one. These adjustments really add the finishing touches to the collage.

Photoscape collage adjustments
Last but not least, SAVE! This saves the collage as a new image onto your computer.

Have fun with your collages until PicMonkey launch their own!

What collage software are you using? Care to share?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

25 Recycling Projects For Old Jeans

I'm on a revamping mission. Or is it upcycling? It could be repurposing I suppose. But then again maybe I'm recycling. I'm sure there is an argument to say I'm refashioning. What is the difference anyway?

Recycling according to wikiwhatsit is processing used materials (waste) into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials.
Whereas upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.
Repurposing on the other hand is to use a tool for use as another tool, usually for a purpose unintended by the original tool-maker.
And Refashion does not exist according to the authority that is wikiwhatsit. So it definitely can't be that.

Could jeans be considered a tool? Not sure so let me just say that I have a couple of pairs of jeans that are too big (yay!) and too shabby to be decent for anything more than gardening and I couldn't just throw them out. One pair has a particularly nice back pocket which I thought I could use for something so I googled recycle/repurpose/upcycle/revamp jeans/denim and after hours of research which uncovered a denim covered car (save that project for another day) I found I was spoilt for choice.

Some of the projects I found look really simple (I say look, but the reality may be anything but simple) and some are of a seriously professional quality. Now there's a profession: Jeans Upcycler. Explain that at a dinner party!

Here are some of my favourites:

recycle upcycle jeans
  1. Knee patches
  2. Turn them into a skirt
  3. Crop them
  4. Make a bag
  5. Make a pot for pens
  6. Make a pot holder
  7. Make coasters
  8. Make a quilt (you may need a few pairs of jeans for this one)
  9. Upholster an armchair (yeah in my spare time!)
  10. Make a whale
  11. Weave a handbag
  12. Make a pencil roll
  13. Create art (requires an artistic eye that I may not possess)
  14. Make a corsage (check out missielizzie who has a Jeanius Challenge going on)
  15. Make an owl
  16. Make a coffee cup cosy
  17. Make bunting
  18. Make a dog coat (This is not Misty by the way)
  19. Make an ipod, iphone, kindle case
  20. Make a cushion
  21. Noticeboard organiser
  22. Mobile phone socket organiser
  23. Make gift wrapping
  24. Make some monsters!
  25. Make a business or credit card case.
Challenge is I only have two pairs of jeans and a limited number of hours in the day.

I really want to try to get the most out of them though, so I am going to make a skirt, an owl cushion, a corsage,  a monster, a mobile charging pocket, and a business card holder.

So watch this space and who knows what jean-carnage will be erupting here soon!

Sorry Misty but you will have to wait to get your doggy jacket!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

365 Project Week 15 Round Up

From being spied on by the Easter Bunny to being spied on by the Wee One, I have been watched this week.

Watching to see if I drop a crumb of chocolate. I didn't.
Watching how I make muffins.
Watching to see if I saw that epic goal being scored. I only looked away for a second.
Watching me from the skies. Satelites? Spooks? Who knows?
Watching incredulously as I photograph a wheelbarrow.
Just watching me. Cheeky boy.

Don't forget to go and see the best 365project photos of the week at The Boy And Me.

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Silent Sunday


Silent Sunday mocha beanie mummy

Friday, 13 April 2012

Saturday is Caption Day

He may be ever so slightly unhappy about something.
Can't imagine what that might be. Perhaps you could help me out here.

unhappy chappy

And while you are at it, thinking up captions that is, head over to Mammasaurus.

Saturday Is Caption Day

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Controlled Crying

'Controlled Crying' - also known as 'Rocking in a corner trying to resist the urge to go in and give him a huge cuddle'.

controlled crying

We have three children. With our first, who is a perfectly well adjusted 7 year old now, we used controlled crying twice. First when he was about 14 months old, I was returning to work and we hadn't had a full nights sleep since he had been born. He would have to be rocked to sleep and then would wake in the night, again needing to be rocked back to sleep. And another go when he got chicken pox at 2 and a half and completely forgot that he was supposed to sleep by himself.

On both occasions we took the same approach.

  • We both agreed it was the right thing to do. It is no use starting to follow the approach and then giving in after half an hour. You have just let your child cry for no reason.
  • We supported each other. It was hard. I cried.
  • We followed the clock religiously, returning after 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 15 minutes and then every 15 minutes until he had settled.
  • We only went in to very briefly reassure him that we were there. No lingering, no hugging. Just a quick stroke of the head, a 'there, there' and if standing, lying him down again.
  • Continue this method until he was asleep and repeat every night until he would settle himself before you needed to go back in.

On both occasions this only took 3 nights. I was initially concerned he would wake up, resentful and grumpy but funnily enough he didn't harbor a grudge. He would wake in the morning happy and chatty with absolutely no after effects, aside from a snot encrusted cot sheet though!.

Our second child, the Princess, was much easier. We have rarely had a need to do this. But if we had, it was the same rules and one night before normal service was resumed.

The Wee One had been the easiest to settle at night until recently. Now, at 26 months, he is fighting going to bed. He has also dropped his naps. A coincidence? He would only settle if he was lying in our bed next to one of us and then we would put him to bed when he was asleep. Not entirely convenient and not good for a restful nights sleep.

So three nights ago we started controlled crying.

Night 1: I rocked on the edge of my bed a bit. I clock watched. But after only 45 minutes of hysterical screaming, he sobbed a final "Mummy", then went to sleep.
Night 2: Less rocking from me, mainly due to him settling to sleep after only 15 minutes.
Night 3: He was pointing to his cot saying "Bed. Bed". No tears. No protesting.

So we have cracked the going to bed issues. Yay! Go us! Parents rock!

Now we just need to crack the waking up at 2.00am issues!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Notes on Easter

Here is a list of what I have learned this Easter.

  • The Wee One prefers milk chocolate. So that white chocolate egg we bought him will be next seen reincarnated into some muffins.
  • There is such a hobby as coach-spotting, and coach-spotter-spotting as invented by me.
  • Cadburys chocolate aggravates my eczema. Lindt dark chocolate does not.
  • The Princess can not only write her name but can also phonetically spell it.
  • Felt-tips do not make good lipsticks. Actually I already knew this but the Princess has now learnt this all for herself.
  • I prefer pot roast to normal roast.
  • The Wee One can inhale an Easter egg.
  • The Big One can eat his own weight in chocolate, bounce on a trampoline and not throw up.
  • I am a photo-editing android app geek. Sorry Sam for boring you senseless ;)

Not bad for a few days of Easter family loveliness.

How was your Easter and have you got any chocolate left?

Joining in with this weeks Gallery theme of Easter.

Monday, 9 April 2012


Yesterday's bedtime was particularly challenging.


 Challenging from a sleep perspective. In that there wasn't enough of it to fill either my quota or that of a 2 year old. In fact one 2 year old in particular who we fondly refer to as The Wee One.

Our story begins where my evening should begin, free from children, in control of the remote control and a laptop poised for blogging inspiration. There may also be beverages and snackages within easy reach.

Last night however, The Wee One failed to recognise the normal prompts for sleep, like a cot, pyjamas, sleeping bag and teddy/rabbit/iggle piggle/plane/blanket. Instead he saw this as his opportunity to wail like a banshee, screech like nails down a blackboard and scream like you want to go faster. This is not normal behavior. In fact we have been (previously) blessed with a toddler who would sigh with relief on being placed in his cot. So we have a new model with a faulty off switch.

After 30 minutes of protesting, intermittent patting on head and returning thrown comforters, that were failing to comfort, back into the cot I gave up and tried the emergency plan B.

Don't shout, but I picked him up and gave him a cuddle. Immediate relief was achieved and peace was restored. Until I returned him to the cot. When the previous wailing, screeching and screaming paled into insignificance relative to the renewed vocal efforts now being emitted. Under normal circumstances, that is when everyone isn't over tired from days of confectionery consumption and heightened stimulation, I would have let him get on with it, safe in the knowledge that he will collapse exhausted before social services arrive.

But this was untested territory and plan C came into force.

Don't shout, but I picked him up and took him to my bed where I lay down next to him giving him a soothing head massage. This worked. A sigh was emitted. A snuggle was administered and his breathing slowed. I waited for him to nod off. For one hour I waited while he sang to me, played planes using my face as a landing strip and experimented with sticking his fingers into my ears and eyes.

In frustration I got up and left the room. He got up and went in search of new toys.

I gave up and, don't shout, took him downstairs so I could get a cup of tea.

I caught up on the final episode of America's Next Top Model (Lisa won as expected) while The Wee One wandered about, sang, shouted a bit, emptied the previously refilled toy box over the sitting room floor.

Two hours and forty minutes after he was first taken to bed, I returned upstairs and, don't shout, took him back to my bed to lie down next to him to make soothing noises. This exercise continued fruitlessly for a further 20 minutes.

Plan D was to try yawning. You know the yawning phenomenon where you yawn, and someone else is compelled to yawn. Not surprisingly I didn't have to fake my yawn. And as predicted, The Wee One caught the yawning bug and joined in very convincingly. I yawned again, now catching his yawn, and he yawned back. Wow, we could keep this going for hours. Thankfully we didn't have to, because a mere five minutes later, he nodded off and was returned to his cot.

I sank gratefully back into my own bed. And couldn't sleep.

Tonight I am starting the controlled crying technique. It will be louder and more stressful but ultimately I get to have an evening again.

How to you get your previously content sleeper back into contented sleep? Advice needed but please don't shout.

Out of idle curiosity, did you yawn reading this post?

I've linked up with The Crumby Mummy's Terrible Twosday!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

365project Week 14 Round Up

The first week of the Easter holidays and by virtue of this post we have survived.

There has been washing

of glasses after the night before,
sheds because you can
and teddy because you must.

There has been lighting

of fires,
a spring in the step (boing),
a sparkle in the eyes reflecting off shiny foil wrappers
and a glimmer of excitement from a found key to a lost case.

Five Go Blogging 365project Week 14

Hope your Easter has so far been fun-filled.

I'll be off now to check out the other 365projects at The Boy And Me.

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

And it's not too late to vote for me for the BiB Award recognising photography by clicking on the pretty pink and green badge below :)

And if that's not enough please feel free to vote for me in the MADs ;)

Snap ShortlistMAD Blog Awards 2012

Silent Sunday

shadow bunny

Silent Sunday mocha beanie mummy

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Saturday is Caption Day

The Princess modelling the latest fashion accessory that every It girl about town will soon be wearing, or a warning against watching too much TV?

I can't be sure so your suggestions will be most welcome.

Be warned, there are many more photos waiting for captions over at Mammasaurus too!

Saturday Is Caption Day

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


It has been a long time since I can honestly say I have experienced peace.
Three children tend to scupper all selfish ideas like that.

But there is a moment, soon after my head hits the pillow, when I think I am at peace. My mind drifts, worries of the day dissipate, tomorrows to-do list melts away. But I don't have any photos of myself sleeping.

Instead I have the next best thing.

Summer breathing through tall grass.


Autumn winds nudging and tussling clouds into whipped up frothy piles over the sea.

Yoda Cloud

Piles of paperbacks with words nestling amongst the pages to transport me to another place.

pile of books

So in an ideal world, I would be sitting on a beach with grasses on the dunes behind me, in late summer, reading a book. And probably no children of mine within earshot.

I may even nod off.

Where do you find peace?

Written for The Gallery.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Raindeer (not a typo)

Day 2 of the Easter holidays and there was this strange wet stuff falling from the sky.
I googled it.Turns out it is Rain.

Thing was that there wasn't any rain when we left the house to take our sccoters round Burghley Park.

And it was proper rain too. Real big fat wet drops, that permeate through even the most 'shower-proof' of coats. Ten minutes in and we were seeking shelter. This was not helping my grey brooding mood at all. Nor was the ridiculously expensive apple juice in the cafe. Two quid! Really?

Princess was not impressed, with the rain. The cafe was fine for her. As were the chocolate bars. But the rain. Mais non!

Then the Wee One scooted into a lake. Well not exactly a lake by our standards but when you are only 2 foot tall, big puddles can take on epic proportions. The Big One dived in to rescue him, in his crocs. Fear of trench foot forced us to retreat. Passing the visitors entrance to Burghley House I spotted a sculpture. Seemed apt in this weather. Two giant leaves, dripping with rain.

As we were heading out the gate, squelching as we went, we saw the Raindeer. Yes I do know how to spell REINdeer but surely RAINdeer is far more fitting as droplets fell from their antlers into their eyes. Although one poor fella only had one antler. We had a good look round for his other one, checking that there wasn't a deer looking more cocky than the others with an extra antler perched in the middle of his head. There wasn't.

And I do realise that they aren't even reindeer.