Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Snap Slappers Week 12

I can't believe, given I am snapping every single day in the name of 365project, that I had to resort to some old photos to get my Snap Slappers inspiration this week. Tut!

But indeed I did. Back to the sunny summer of 2010! Actually it was quite nice to look at some sunny pictures as the snow heads our way. But I digress as usual.

There she is, paintbrush in hand ready to get started on her new masterpiece.

And here you can see her just putting the finishing touches onto "Sunflowers" in the style of Van Gogh *cough*.

Please call to discuss your own commissions!

Don't forget to grab the badge and link up. You have until Friday to do it ;)

Five Go Blogging Snap Slappers

Monday, 30 January 2012

Princess Walks Misty

Today was a first for the Princess. I trusted her to walk Misty for the first time.

Misty is quite strong and Princess is not so the ratio hasn't been entirely in her favour up till now. We didn't go far and stuck to roads we knew but both my girls were very well behaved.

gif maker

I had a little proud mummy moment :)

Pic Lit

You all know I'm doing a 365project where I take a picture a day.
And you probably know that I like to write.
But I am not writing enough. At least not enough creative writing.
So I've had an idea.

Once a week, I am going to pick one of the pictures I have posted for my project, one that inspires me, made me look a bit closer, a bit longer than usual, and then write about it, creatively, in a story kind of way, in a fictional sort of style, sort of.

And I shall name it Pic Lit (like Chick Lit but not). Picture Literature in other words.

Get it? Okey dokey then.

~ ~ ~

Climbing Fences

- Come on!
- Where?
- Over there. Look! there's a horse. We could ride it.
- No. We shouldn't.
- Come On!
- No, it's not allowed.
- Who says? Come ON!

The horse looked up suspiciously, snorted and then returned to munching on the frosty grass.

The fence was slippery and his foot slid slightly. He wondered how far he would dare go. Jump down the other side? Yeah, that would be ok. Maybe go to where the horse was standing. Because the horse would have moved away by then, wouldn't it? Horses were friendly weren't they? Weren't you supposed to give them sugar lumps or polos or something? He checked his pockets knowing he wouldn't have any sugar lumps or polos. When had he ever carried sugar lumps or polos anyway? Stupid!

On the other side of the fence, the sunlight had thawed the frosty ground enough to make it quite muddy. He wished he had worn wellies now. He had no idea what he was going to do really. Just wanted to spook his sister. She was such a drama queen and never did anything daring. She had once hidden from Mum, really held out for ages, until she could hear that Mum was getting a bit panicky. She thought that was daring. He could see she was getting all worried, hopping from foot to foot and looking around all the time. She was telling him not to, starting to raise her voice a bit. He thought it was really funny when he ignored her. She would get so cross and start shouting and when she couldn't stand it any more she would scream at him and start to cry. Maybe she would cry now. Maybe someone would come around the corner, see her standing there screaming and crying and call the Police thinking that something terrible had happened to her, She would get to ride in Police car. He had always wanted to ride in a Police car, with the lights flashing, the siren blaring, driving so fast that your eyes were blasted open and you couldn't move in your seat. She would love that, "I've been in a Police Car and you haven't." with a silent but implied "Na na na naaa na!" Couldn't let that happen. If anyone was going in a Police car it was him.

He didn't like horses anyway.

~ ~ ~

Should you feel compelled to join in, I have made a little badge that you could use :-) Mention me won't you x


Saturday, 28 January 2012

Saturday is Caption Day

Saturday already? Where did that week go?
A blur of school runs, laundry and wellies later and here we are again, poised expectantly on the edge of our seats feverishly chewing finger nails trying to think up a caption to get the chuckles going.

Here is this weeks photographic eyeful.

What are you thinking? Yep, thought so. Jot it in the comments then drop by Mammasaurus Blog for more.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Around the World in 80 Words

Clever old thing that SAHDandProud. He's only gone and thought up this brilliant meme where you describe somewhere in the world (that you have probably been to) in only 80 words.
I have travelled a bit, on holidays with suitcases where I come home after 3,7,10 or 14 nights, and once with a backpack for all of 21 days in Indonesia, which was nice but I missed hot showers and discovered a phobia of rats, cockroaches and lizards. I have even lived abroad, in Poland, which was cool, well very cool, in fact cold in the winter and surprisingly hot in the summer. But that's another blog post.

However, the place I want to talk about is where I seem to be most often at the moment, with the Wee One on my knee.

Fireman Sam and the Giant Toddler
Fireman Sam was going to need reinforcements!


I find it astonishing that in a town with a population of thirteen (sixteen if you include pets), there are so many emergencies requiring the assistance of Fireman Sam. Pontypandy might have a pizzeria, the seaside, mountains and a forest but they all seem to present regular, if not daily hazards. But while there is a chance of being rescued by Tom and flying in his helicopter, I think it is a trip worth taking. PS Get health insurance.

Now pop over to SAHDandProud to add your travel guide to the ever growing list.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Life After Picnik

I have just about got over the shock that Picnik will be closing (or technically moving over to Google+ but losing a few bits) and I have managed to look at some other photo editing websites without feeling like a traitor. After all Picnik doesn't close until April 19th so there is still plenty of time. In the meantime there is a Brucie bonus, all features are now free, and *wipes brow* if you have paid for an upgrade you will get a full refund even if you only have 1 day left on your membership.

I have read a couple of other posts about alternatives which I have played around with tried and tested for you. While doing this tough job, I also found a couple of other sites which I thought you might like to consider.

So here is Five Go Blogging's FREE photo editing roundup broken into 2 lists; the first is for one-clickers and decorators and the second is for those who are a bit more technically minded and want to play with levels, layers, dodging and burning.

So for the one-click wonders ;)

  • loads of filters and overlays which are super easy to apply with one click
  • Easy to apply stickers, drawing and text (although the range of stickers isn't as good as Picnik)
  • Adjust you photo to take on the palette and style of a famous painting
  • Simple and very easy to use
  • You need to upload your photos, save them in an album, then click and drag the image into the workspace (it wasn't obvious)!
  • No animation features
  • No collage feature
  • Not able to create layers so you can't merge images
Summary: A simple tool to enhance your images and decorate them.

Pixlr Express
  • Masses of pre-set filters, overlays and frames, applied with one click.
  • No decorations or text
  • No animation features
  • No collage feature
Summary: great for simplicity, filters and overlays but nothing else to sell it!

Pixlr O-Matic
  • Loads of preset filters to give your images a retro feel
  • That's all it does, only retro filters.
Summary: Really simple but probably too basic

  • Filters and effects to fill your boots with many times over
  • A degree of advanced settings for levels and saturation etc.
  • Stickers, text and doodling features
  • Additional artistic effects
  • No collages
  • No merging of multiple images that I can see or work out
  • No animation
  • Text fonts are limited on the free version
Summary: Probably the closest to Picnik in functionality and in that you can pay to upgrade and get additional features.

  • Filters and effects as you'd expect
  • Can make collages
  • Can do basic merging of photos but can only cut out in eclipse or square cropped sections
  • Has stickers, text and drawing functions
  • Can only upload limited picture size and will resize your image to fit (but quality is still fine for blogs)
  • Interface is pretty basic and is certainly not slick
  • No animation
Summary: Has a good range of effects, stickers, frames etc and is simple to use but the limit of picture size could be a problem.

And now those of a slightly more geeky persuasion ;)

  • Has animation features! Sparkling effects, reflections, ripples
  • Easy to make slideshows
  • Can freeform cut out images and paste onto other pictures
  • Range of filters and effect
  • Can create a twitter mosaic of your followers
  • Has tutorials for the more advanced features.
  • Limited image size to 930x930 although fine for blogs
  • No decorations other than text
  • No click and drag collages but can cut out and paste onto a new image to create merged pictures.
Summary: This looks pretty cool for animated and transitional images but probably not ideal for just adding effects for blog images.

  • It pretty much has it all (except layers as far as I can see)
  • It has the geek factor for fiddling with your levels and curves
  • It does collages (yay!)
  • It has stickers and text and drawing (but not as extensive as Picnik)
  • It has filters pre set which you can then adjust to suit you
  • You have to explore to find what you need, no easy one-click buttons here
  • There isn't a facility to merge photos
Summary: The almost full package on you machine. It has to be downloaded so it sits on your machine as a programme.

  • This looks and feels very much like Photoshop so is definitely one for those of you who are comfortable with some technical terms but, as such, offers a lot of scope.
  • It has filters, effects and frames
  • You can cut and paste to merge photos
  • No decorations in terms of stickers
  • No animation features
  • No collages
Summary: Good as a free photoshop alternative but not for the fun features

Pixlr Editor
  • Nice interface following the style of the other Pixlr products
  • Very like photoshop in the editing features it offers
  • Has filters, effects and frames
  • No decorations in terms of stickers
  • No animation features
  • No collages
Summary: Good as a free Photoshop alternative but not for the fun features

  • Easy to navigate
  • All the toys: collage, layers, filters, frames, stickers, insert a face,
  • Glitter text (brought out the princess in me!) and glittery stickers.
  • You can paste a whole image onto another
  • Using 'smart cutout' or 'smart scissors' on the 'geek' menu you can cutout selected areas to paste onto another image.
  • Slooooow to upload and apply effects. Don't play with this if you are under time pressure.
  • Because it is slow I couldn't actual draw a line, it produced a series of dots instead of a continuous line.
  • The slow speed also meant that using the smart cutout I could not easily shade the area I wanted to select so it was very rough.
  • No overlays and limited frames and filters.
Summary: Of all the sites I have reviewed this comes closest to meeting my needs which are filters, stickers and other decorations, merging images and making collages. Not 100% there but pretty close. 

I have to admit that I am still undecided. I like Befunky for its simplicity and the range of effects, and I like Fotoflexer for its geek features. Given I used photoshop for photo merging and then add effects in Picnik, I will probably still end up using more than one of these sites to get the 'perfect' image.

There are so many other sites out there that you may prefer but there is only so much photo editing a girl can do! If you find something else that you think we would like to try please feel free to link it up here.

Please note I was a first time user to all of the sites I have featured here so it is possible I missed something or just didn't get it. If I did and you feel something should be corrected please let me know. Thanks x

The Gallery - Photo Resolution

I have a photo resolution.
It is inspired by Tara at Sticky Fingers in this weeks Gallery.
It is very simple.
Switch from A to M.

A is for auto.
M is for manual.

FiveGoBlogging taking photo

This picture of The Big One was taken in the summer when I set the kids a challenge to take lots of photos on our day out. I let them have fun and play with the camera. That's exactly what I want to do too!

Whats the worst that can happen? I'm not going to waste film am I, like in the olden days. I'm going to discover the different effects that those dials have on my photos. I'm going to experiment. So I may have more duff shots than I do at the moment but that is what the delete button is for and while I am making mistakes I will be learning.


If the worst does happen, there is always an array of photo editing websites available to hide behind!

For more photo resolutions head over to Sticky Fingers.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Snap Slappers Week 11

I have shed some tears this week, my friends. I have mourned the loss of a dear comrade, a supporter of Five Go Blogging and I might even go so far as to say that without them, Five Go Blogging would not be what it is today.

It is because of their strength, versatility and damn clever simplicity that Snap Slappers even exists. You might think I am exaggerating but I am not. Everyone that they touched would say the same. I know because I have seen them weep too.

Our relationship has been all too brief. We could have done so much more together, me with my snapping skills and you with your fine array of effects. We were perfect together. Oh Picnik, what will I do without you?

I know you have associates out there who follow where you have led, and so desperately want to be like you. Maybe, in time I will be able to play with them too. But right now the wound is so fresh, so raw and it needs time to heal before I can move on.

But in the meantime, oh Picnik, I wish you well in your final few months. I hope the end is your finale, your finest hour and if you could just check on the progress of my refund, I'd appreciate it. Ta.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Picnik!

Picnik frog job centre

Not your typical Snap Slappers this week but I hope you will forgive the indulgence in my grief.

Have you got a photo that you have edited this week? Link up and while you are at it have a gander at the other entries.

Five Go Blogging Snap Slappers

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Saturday is Caption Day

Time to get your caption on!
Or more specifically, get your caption on my photo.
This photo in fact.

The stocks, Oakham

Please note: no children were harmed in the taking of this photo (although long term psychological damage cannot be ruled out).

Enter you caption in the comments below and then pootle along to Mammasaurus for more.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Shopping Hell

Image Credit: austerityblog.com

Why grocery shopping is bad for your health (particularly on a Thursday in Morrisons):

I am scarred both physically and mentally.

I was abused by an elderly *ahem* gentleman because I was standing in front of the porridge oats deciding whether to go 'quick and easy' or 'instant' at precisely the same time as he wanted to get his box of traditional oats. The corners of said box of traditional oats are quite pointy I have discovered, especially when forcibly dragged along your forearm.

My patience has been tested to the extreme by waiting to manoeuvre up the aisles while other shoppers carefully consider whether to buy tinned plum tomatoes or tinned other tomatoes. Ironic really because I can guarantee that when the tin is opened they will mash them up to add a bit of excitement to their fried mince and onions and call it bolognese thereby negating any discernible difference between plum or other tomatoes anyway.

I had to wrestle the Wee One into the trolley because he was convinced the aisles are there solely for the purpose of racing up and down, and other shoppers and their trolleys were merely obstacles to swerve around sometimes successfully and other times not. Cue grunts from elderly shoppers who did not appreciate the entertainment.

The layout of the shop is ridiculous. I had to repeatedly fight my way up and down aisles because things are in the wrong place. Who in their right mind would put oxo and eggs on the same aisle? These people are just crazy. Why would mince beef be miles away from any other form of dead cow? Why would you have squash in one aisle and then be required walk to the other end of the shop to find juice after reconsidering the childrens nutritional needs? Honestly! Really?

I am also slightly stressed because I have bought castor sugar instead of icing sugar, the wrong flavour of dog food, no crisps, no stir fry vegetables, no toilet paper and chicken that has a short use by date.


£100 poorer.
Bruised shins (The Wee One).
Scratched arm (Me).
Semi-stocked fridge.
Semi-stocked cupboard.
Consumption of 2/3 of a pack of custard creams to recover.
Feel fat. And sick.
Another shopping trip needed.

And I have no idea what we can have for dinner tonight!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Gallery - Eyes

I didn't have to delve too far into the archives to find the photo that I wanted to feature on this weeks Gallery. In fact I had 3 that were right up there and after some deliberation and the tossing of a coin I chose to show them all.

Kids in sunglasses

They are united by a common theme as you can see.

All at similar ages, Each of my three children reached for the sunglasses, greasy fingers all over the lenses, maybe the right way up or maybe not, and a cheesy grin in place ready for the camera. You can't see their eyes but you know that behind the lenses their eyes are twinkly with a certain cheekiness that says, "I know I'm not supposed to, and I'm probably going to be told off, like the last time and I tried to use the arms as a catapult, but I'm going to try them on anyway because I look COOL!".

Yes, you do look cool which is the reason I only ever buy cheap sunglasses. Long gone are the days of Raybans!

This post is joining in with The Gallery over at Sticky Fingers.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Snap Slappers Week 10

Hello my lovely Snap Slappers!

Have you been having the glorious sunrises and sunsets that we've been having in Lincolnshire? There I was out on the pavement in my dressing gown and slippers the other morning taking this photo.

Sunrise Stamford Lincolnshire

I'm sure the neighbours think I am mad, especially as the children (also in their PJs) were intent on seeing what I was trying to photograph. Sorry to any neighbours who were trying to have a lie-in!

But anyway, lovely sunrise as it is, and being addicted to Picnik, and being a mother to 3 who on occasion can find life hard work, I had to have play.

Snap slappers, I give you Gin O'clock!

Five Go Blogging, Gin O'Clock

I raise a glass(after 5pm)  in your honour!

Care to join me? Either in a glass of gin or as a Snap Slapper? Link away x

Five Go Blogging Snap Slappers

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Saturday Is Caption Day

Time to get your caption on!

Here he is, doing.. er... something in a puddle.

What is he up to? What is he thinking? You decide!


Give me your best captions!
But save a little bit of caption-juice for all the other contenders at Mammasaurus Blog.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

My Three Books

What three books would you rescue from a burning building?

Thank you to A Mummy Too who has set the challenge to list your 3 favourite books.

Actually what I'm trying to do is identify one book for each stage of my life. One from my childhood, one from adulthood and one from the grave. No not really although that would be interesting wouldn't it? What book would you want to be buried with in case you weren't really dead and needed something to read to pass the time? But then you would need one of those clever book light thingummies. And spare batteries, because you know they would run out.
Have I digressed?
Oh yes, the third literary category is parenthood, what is your favourite book to read to your child? Do your kids like the same book night after night after night to the point that you can recite it with your eyes closed and the any sense of feeling is eradicated through sheer boredom? Not just me then.
So the challenge is to choose just one book from childhood, adulthood and parenthood.

My love of mysteries started early with The Secret Seven, Enid Blyton.

The Secret Seven, Enid Blyton

Every Christmas and birthday I would ask for a new Secret Seven book and I would devour it immediately, right up to the last few pages when I would realise that it would soon be finished and I would have to wait months for the next one and I would savour the last few minutes of pleasure. Sadly, Mum and Dad are not big on childhood mementos and the books have all gone so I am going to have to re-buy the collection to ensure that my children get to experience The Secret Seven.
After I had consumed all of the books in the Secret Seven Series, I must have progressed to another series of mysteries which (given old age) I can no longer remember, before I moved on to status books, you know, ones that were at least an inch thick and involved *ahem* romance, like Riders.

How is it possible to choose just one book? If I was to choose a classic, having studied English Literature, it would be a Jane Austin, with Pride and Prejudice being my favourite. But the truth is I am a sucker for a good thriller, a suspense, a mystery (see Childhood) so an Agatha Christie could be top of the list but don't ask me to choose just one of her iconic stories.
Racking my brains and scanning the 'library' shelves, there are some great books there that are worthy of the short list like Donna Tartt's "The Secret History", a page turner that has got me turning the pages a couple of times, Margaret Atwood's "The Blind Assassin" which I could not put down on one memorable holiday or Anne Rice's "The Witching Hour" is the only fantasy novel I have ever read that grabbed me from the start and wouldn't let me put it down.
But the one book that rises above them all is Tracy Chevalier's "Girl With A Pearl Earring".

Girl With A Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier

Much like I would be desperate to get the next Secret Seven mystery in my childhood, I pace the pavement outside the bookshop to get the new Tracey Chevalier novel. Her style is magical, simplistic and evocative, taking a slice of history and spinning a lace like web of a story around it that traps you and will not let you go until the final page is turned and you cannot help but let out a little sigh.

One classic that is right up there for me is "Peepo" by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. Lovely illustrations that reveal new pleasures every time you read it, and one that I will keep for many years to come.
A more modern book is one a friend of mine bought for my eldest son for his 4th birthday. It is about poo so of course, is a great hit in our house. It is "The Mole Who Knew It Was None Of His Business" by Werner Holzwarth.

The Mole Who Knew It Was None Of His Business, Werner Holzwarth

Lovely illustrations, great animal characters and the best descriptions of animal poo you will ever read. I defy you to get bored of reading this to your children or for your children to stop giggling.

On that note I am off to colour co-ordinate my book collections.

What would your three books be?

Join in with A Mummy Too and have a gander at what other people class as their top three books.


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Gallery - Phone Cameras

Can you remember the first time you ever took a photo on your mobile and how amazed and excited you were?

I can. I was in total awe of the technology and took photos of so many things. The quality was pretty poor back in the olden days and you had to seriously squint to recognise what or who the photo was of. But it was still gobsmakingly cool!

On my mobile I have the built in camera which has loads of effects and filters you can edit your pictures with. I didn't even realise you could do this until one evening when I was a bit bored and started playing.

Then I discovered RetroCamera, a free app for android phones, with which you can choose between several retro cameras including polaroid, The Barbl, FudgeCam and my favourite Little Orange Box. It automatically adds an effect to give the impression of a picture developed by that old camera. So many of my photos on the blog are taken using this app.

Then came my discovery of Picnik.com, the free online photo editing programme which you may *ahem* have noticed I quite like and have a weekly linky Snap Slappers along this theme *wink wink*.

Then came January 1st this year and I decided to start a 365project.org album where I take a picture a day for the whole year (yes I know there are 366 days this year but this site has been going a few years). I started following a few fellow photographers and noticed someone using the Vignette app. I knew the effect from picnik but this app can do so much more including.... drum roll please...  double exposures.

Vignette app double exposure

Playing around I took this (these) photo of The Princess and then double exposed it by taking a picture of our floorboards (as you do) and then (as if that wasn't enough) added the Vignette filter to it, and then (pauses to catch my breath) decreased the exposure a bit. Phew. All on my mobile phone. What will they think of next? You'll be telling me you can talk to someone on my phone. What's that ringing noise?

I'm off to see what pictures my fellow bloggers have been taking on their mobile phones at Sticky Fingers - The Gallery. Care to join me?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Snap Slappers Week 9

There he was, happily playing while I was clearing up after the Princess who had been painting, I come back in the room and find the Wee One sitting on the dinnig table stacking paint pots, as you do!

My revenge (!) is to picnik his photo. Seems fair to me.

So here he was, sitting like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.

The wee one balancing

And a short while later he had a small army of insects crawling up his arm. Bless him, he kept very still through the whole invasion :)

balancing the wee one

Have you taken a 'normal' photo recently and then tweaked it, teased it, and pimped it into submission?
Link up below and join in with the Snap Slappers.

Five Go Blogging Snap Slappers

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Saturday is Caption Day

Here it is.
Crying out for your caption!
Begging to be made complete with a few choice words!
Desperately lacking something that only you can provide.

Yes, today is Caption Day and this is the picture to test you.

And if that isn't enough for you, I insist you click off to Mammasaurus where a veritable host of other pictures are desperately in need!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Vintage Threads

I think of vintage and I think of designer vintage clothing like Chanel, Pucci or Givenchy, and I think of how much you can spend on what, once upon a time, you might have found buried in a charity shop somewhere in Chelsea. Then a whole industry was born out of vintage, and old cast offs were given a very lucrative new lease of life.

As much as I would have loved to have a Mother whose wardrobe I could plunder and launch my own vintage retro clothing collection from, there was an unfashionable side to the 70's that Mum comfortably resided in. Sorry Mum!

Subsequently I have no inherited vintage gems I can share. :(

So to my own purchases.


Right, well I have a couple of pairs of socks that... no probably not.

Digging a bit deeper and behold, my gym gear! Last worn circa 2002. Ten years ago. I could have properly scared myself and tried it on but that would be simply foolish. How to depress yourself in 1 easy step: try on too tight lycra.

I have this T-shirt that I think could be bordering on the vintage. Erasure Phantasmagorical Tour 1992.

Erasure Phantasamagorical Tour T-shirt

I was there, in Hammersmith, with my flatmate and his sister, singing along, loudly and loving every minute. I have no idea why I have kept the T-shirt. It is unflattering. It has seriously faded. It has no sentimental value. But it has been in my comfy clothing drawer (everyone has one of those, right?) for at least 10 years and gets an outing once a year when it gets so cold I need to wear long sleeves in bed. Whoo hoo!


I also have this coat which I love and sort of looks retro, in the dark and if you squint.

Fake fur coat

I bought it in Poland, where it's thick luscious fake fur was an absolute necessity and where, if you are anti real fur you can still blend right in with the Poles (at least you could in the late 90's. But I somehow think fashions have moved on significantly since then and if I was to go back and visit Warsaw, I would look like someone's ageing spinster aunt). That all said, I look like someone's overweight ageing spinster aunt if I wear it here too!

Thank you Melksham Mum who tagged me :) and Motherventing who started this Meme x

And now I tag From Fun To Mum, Stressy Mummy and HPMcQ.
Show us your vintage ladies! And apologies if you already have x