Monday, 16 July 2018

Seven years of blogging

I've just celebrated seven years of blogging. I can't believe I've lasted that long! From my very first post sharing my homemade felt biscuits, through writing about life with a newborn and a toddler, sharing the crafts and activities that we got up to. As we started to travel more with the children I wrote about our days out and holidays, sharing tips and advice that I hoped would help others. Now although I still write a great deal about parenting and family life, I also write more about myself, my own thoughts and feelings, as well as the crafts and other things that I'm working on.

I don't publish a new post nearly as often as I used to. It seems strange as these days I have a lot more time to write, but for one thing I've drastically cut down on the amount of reviews that I was accepting, and so I hope that the quality of posts has increased along with the decrease in quantity! I do publish occasional sponsored posts as I need to earn some money somehow, but I hope that they aren't too intrusive.

Things have changed a lot in the blogging world, even just over the last couple of years. Many people are seeing blogging and social media as a way to earn some easy money, especially if you are wanting to work from home or around other commitments, and it's all become much more competitive. Luckily most people quickly realise that it's very hard work to be constantly creating new, interesting content - it's not nearly as easy as it looks!

With so many other bloggers and social media influencers out there it's easy to feel a little bit lost, and sometimes as though you are shouting into a void. It's also not just about the blog now, in order to be noticed online you need to have an active presence across all forms of social media. I get easily overwhelmed and feel that I don't have the time or energy to devote enough time to promoting myself and my blog. I just love writing my blog posts and planning the next ones, I'm not very good at shouting about myself.

I'm so glad that I started my blog though. There are so many happy memories shared, records of the things that we've done and the challenges that we've faced and overcome. I hope that I'm still here for a good while yet, I think that I have plenty more to share!

Birthday cake for blogging anniversary
Photo credit Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Friday, 13 July 2018

Like lighting a fuse - when the children play together

Our summer holidays have just begun, and we are quickly settling into our summer routine. We have a couple of short breaks planned, as well as activities and play dates, but a lot of the time we'll spend together at home. I'm definitely a home bird and I like pottering about in the house. Luckily the  children do too, although I still need to keep them busy.

I'm very lucky that the children will still play nicely together quite a lot of the time. Although he's growing up fast, Harry still loves imaginary play and he's not ready to pack away his toys just yet. Mia loves playing with him, and they can occupy themselves for quite a while with the train set, the teddies, the Playmobil and so on. They come up with some lovely games, and I also notice them acting out scenarios which relate to things that they are going through in real life - it's wonderful to observe.

But the trouble is that it will only last for a certain amount of time. I liken it to lighting a fuse. They will start playing nicely together and everything will be going fine, then suddenly there will be an explosion - something will be triggered that causes an argument - and it will all end in tears.

There's no knowing how long the fuse will burn for before the explosion. Generally, Mia will become frustrated with something, blame Harry, he'll get upset and Mia will get even more cross. One of them will come up to me in tears, and then there's no going back to the peaceful state of play. I have to try and comfort both children and come up with some kind of distraction, usually a snack for Mia while letting Harry retreat with a book.

It's a similar story when we sit down to do something all together, perhaps crafting or playing a game. Everything will be going well and we'll all be having fun, then something will happen to trigger the explosion. The crafting scene below may look idyllic, but they are just minutes or even seconds away from meltdown.

Children cross stitching together

Mia in particular gets very easily frustrated and will quickly lose her temper. I know there are hereditary factors at play, as well as hunger being a trigger, but I'm also wondering whether it could be caused by a little too much screen time. I worry that real life isn't as easy as a computer game, and it's affecting her ability to focus on a real world task and see it through to completion. She certainly doesn't have the patience for things that Harry does.

So I'm determined to try and cut down the screen time over the holidays and make sure that she's also spending time sat down with a book or playing a board game. Wish me luck, we still have many more weeks of the holiday left!

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Make your bedroom the perfect relaxing retreat - Create the perfect ambience with dimmable LED bulbs

After a long day at work, chasing the kids, fixing dinner, running errands, spending summer days out in the sun entertaining the kids. You’re going to need somewhere to relax and unwind when you finally get the chance! We don’t tend to spend much time in our bedrooms – just using them for sleep at the end of a busy day. But creating your own relaxing bedroom retreat is a great way to ensure that you’re fully recharged for the next day, and ready to take on anything the kids or work can throw at you!

Here you’ll find some easy ways you can update your bedroom into the bedroom heaven you’ve always wanted.

Lighting 

Lighting is crucial if you’re hoping to relax in your bedroom. Many of us make do with a single light fixture that hangs miserably from the centre point of the ceiling. But there are so many other options out there! More and more homes are turning to LED lights to give bedrooms a much more relaxed ad stylish feel, particularly because they’re dimmable! You can browse the range here, or look online for more information.

Simply updating your light fixture can dramatically alter the look of your bedroom, and if you like the idea of finally putting your feet up and reading a good book whilst in bed, then adding a couple of table lamps to you bedside tables will be the perfect solution.

Photo credit Christopher Jolly via Unsplash

Embrace simplicity

It can be difficult if you have a busy household. But keeping your bedroom simple and free of clutter will give your bedroom and your mood, an instant lift. Try to keep things as simple as possible and don’t overcrowd your room with overbearing ornaments and furniture. A bed, a nightstand, dresser/wardrobe, bedside tables and maybe a painting over your headboard is ideal. Try to keep piles of ironing out of there, as these only serve as a reminder of all the chores you have to catch up on. You’re there to relax, not to worry even more! Keep the distractions to a minimum.

Photo credit Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Make your bed dreamy

When was the last time you had a good nights sleep? The quality of your sleep could be down to your mattress. Many mattresses come with a 60-90 day money back guarantee so there’s plenty of time to find the mattress that best suits your needs. If your budget won’t stretch to a new mattress then don’t worry, invest in a thick, cushiony mattress topper instead and you’ll notice the difference straight away.

It’s time to bin those old, brightly coloured sheets and covers. Try to keep things clean, crisp and simple when it comes to your bedding. Invest in some 100% natural fibre sheets and linen, such as cotton – which is more breathable and will last much longer too – purchase some new pillows too and remember to swap them every six months or so, this is not only god for your quality of sleep, but also for your skin and health!

This is a collaborative post

Monday, 9 July 2018

Things that I do differently during a heat wave

At the time of writing we are enjoying the longest heatwave that I can remember. It hasn't rained for weeks, and although a few days have been greyer than others, on the whole the weather has been glorious. The novelty isn't wearing off in the slightest, and I'm hoping that it continues for a while yet! It made me think about all the things that I do differently during a spell of nice weather...

* Wear shorts. Normally shorts are reserved for holidays only, when I won't see anyone that I know apart from immediate family. However for the last few weeks I've been living in them, both around the house and out and about.

* Wear dresses. Again, usually my legs are kept hidden away, even during the summer, with dresses reserved for weddings and other special occasions. But all of my dresses have been out over the last few weeks, along with the sandals, and I've really enjoyed wearing them.

* Wash the cars. In the past it's been a once yearly event, over the last month I've been washing them every week! It's much quicker to clean them when they aren't filthy, and it's lovely and refreshing when I get splashed with the hose!

* Drink alcohol in the evenings at home. We never drink at home, only when we are out and about. But with our new firepit we've been sitting outside together in the evenings and indulging in a can or two of gin in a tin, or some Pimms.

* Let the children stay up later. It's such a shame to miss out on the lovely warm, sunny evenings.

* Stop exercising. I can't face going out for a run in the heat!

* Eat outside. So nice to be able to sit in the garden with our food, and it seems to make less mess to clear up as well.

* Eat ice cream. I'm not normally a fan of ice cream - when I indulge I go for cake and biscuits. But I'm gradually working my way through the different flavours of Ben and Jerry's!

* Make lots of plans for outdoor activities over the school summer holidays. I've forgotten that the British weather is normally too unpredictable to make firm plans that involve being outside!

* Constantly check the real time lightning map. I'm sure that there must be a big storm on the way soon!

Garden furniture in the sun shine

What do you do differently when we are enjoying such wonderful weather?

Friday, 6 July 2018

This introvert's need for her own room

I spend quite a bit of time scrolling through social media and I love coming across articles like this one - 12 things introverts absolutely need to be happy. In fact I liked it so much that I subscribed to the blog! Since I read the fantastic Quiet by Susan Cain a few years back (you can read my book review here - Quiet) I've found that I definitely identify as an introvert.

I loved the list in the link and it made a lot of sense to me - I could agree with all of them. My favourite thing that introverts need was 5 - A quiet space that's all ours.

When we moved into our new house a few years back we were lucky enough to have a spare room on the ground floor that is probably intended as a study. Instead I christened it 'The Quiet Room' because it's a room that doesn't have a television in it (although it does have a PC so it is still used for watching videos). I had originally intended for it to be a playroom for the children, and I had in mind some of those Ikea Kallax units for the toys. But inevitably it turned out that the children never wanted to play very far away from me and we found storage elsewhere for their toys, and gradually over the years it has become more and more 'my room'.

I laid my claim to the space early with my bookshelves. I've since downsized and only have the one, but it's the only place in the house where we keep the 'grown up' books. I also have my desk and PC where I work. I like that the desk is next to the window at the front of the house so I can see comings and goings to the front door, yet I have a tall front hedge for privacy from the outside world. The room doesn't get any sun so it's nice and cool all year round, and it's large enough to feel spacious yet small enough to be cosy.

I've gradually customised my desk space, first with my favourite photographs and ornaments and then by hanging up some of my crafty projects. All my finished cross stitch pieces are displayed in the room, and there's a lovely comfy sofa with one of my favourite crochet blankets over it.

My introvert room and quiet space

I spend most of my time here during the day, and in the evenings if I need a bit of space to myself or to escape from the other noisier rooms. I'm very grateful for my little space!

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Custom stickers, labels and more from Sticker You

Recently I was invited to try out some custom stickers from Sticker You. Sticker You offer a wide range of stickers and labels for every situation, along with an easy to use editor that allows you to create your own designs using their graphics and fonts. The stickers are printed on to high quality vinyl, and you can choose from a huge range of sizes, shapes and quantities.

Thinking ahead to going back to school in September, I decided to start by looking at name labels for the children. It's always useful to have a stock of labels around for all those things that they have to take into school! There are lots of different Kids Labels, and I chose a sheet of Round Rectangle Kids Labels for each child. There are 33 labels per page, and you can choose to have a page of identical labels or a range of different designs. You can customise an existing design, or start from scratch and select your own colours, fonts and images.

For Mia I went with pink and unicorns. Harry prefers a more grown up name label so I kept his plain. I was really pleased with the quality of the labels, they are really thick and sticky and will definitely make their belongings stand out.

Name label stickers from Sticker You

It will be really handy to have a sheet of these labels around for all the things that need to be identified! Each sheet of these name label stickers costs $9.99.

Name stickers for children from Sticker You

I also ordered some circular shoe labels. They each need to take their school shoes, trainers and wellies to school regularly, and I also find it useful to label their 'home' shoes as they are so often left lying around at soft play or friend's houses. These labels fit neatly into the heel of the shoe and they look as though they will be very durable. A sheet of 30 shoe labels costs $9.99.

Shoe labels for children from Sticker You

I also ordered some address labels which I can use for my own correspondance. There was a lovely selection of different designs to choose from and again the vinyl finish makes them look really smart and professional.

Finally I ordered some lovely Christmas themed stickers which I thought will be fantastic for adding to the Christmas cards this year. They were really easy to design and there were lots of different holiday themed pictures to choose from. I kept it simple with a circular holly leaf design, but you could also customise stickers to include your family name, and you can also upload your own photographs or artwork to come up with something really unique!

Custom Christmas stickers from Sticker You

If you would like to try out some Sticker You products for yourself, click here to request a free sample pack.

This is a collaborative post with Sticker You. Prices correct at time of publishing.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Our craze for this summer - rock painting

The last few summers have been marked by various crazes. There were the loom bands, the fidget spinners and then those Sainsbury's Lego cards. This summer we are jumping on board with a craze that has been around for a while but has only just reached us locally - rock painting. The idea is to decorate stones and them hide them, with instructions on the back for finders to share a photo on social media. There might be a hashtag, or the details of a Facebook page. If you find a rock you can keep it, but it's more fun to re-hide it for someone else to find.

A local group has recently been set up for our village, and so I've been busy collecting stones for us to paint. I find that Posca pens (affiliate link) are brilliant for decorating the rocks - the come in lots of really bright and vibrant colours and are very easy for the children to use. When decorated they then need to be sealed to protect them. You can use clear nail polish, varnish or a sealing spray, we've been using this one - Plastikote Fast Dry Project Enamel (affiliate link) - which is working well.

To start with I let the children have a go and these are the ones that they produced - they obviously liked the idea of giving the rocks faces!

Painted rocks by children

While they were at school I could resist having a go myself. There is so much inspiration online, and I used this Unicorn rock painting tutorial to get me started, I think that a new Pinterest board is in order!

Unicorn and patterned painted rocks

One of our rocks has already been found and shared on Facebook which was very exciting. I'm not quite sure how well we should be hiding them or whether it's better to leave them somewhere obvious like on a wall or post, some of ours may be hidden a little too well and need to be moved! I'm hoping it's going to help get us up and out over the summer, and we'll be looking out for them wherever we are now around the country, in case we spot one that we can help to travel a bit further!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
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