Saturday 31 December 2011

How Was It For You? 2011 - A Retrospective

2011 was alright, I suppose.

It was the year:
  • of the birth of my Blog so that's to be celebrated.
  • of the demise of half my wardrobe. Falling to bits, wearing thin or too small. So I'm looking forward to a bit of a wardrobe splurge in the very near future.
  • the Wee One learnt to walk and talk (god help me).
  • that I learnt I could survive on my own with three kids while the Mr worked away.
  • that I learnt I can no longer get away without dying my hair, wearing makeup, and the generous use of anti-wrinkle cream.
  • when 11.11.11 happened.
  • when there was no February 29th so no one proposed to me. Just as well or the Mr wouldn't have been too chuffed.
  • I went to London to meet a group of Twitter/Blogger 'friends' and didn't pass out with nerves.
  • I took more photos than ever before.
  • I discovered Picnik mwhahaha.
  • I didn't go to cybermummy or blogcamp or anything *stamps foot* which will definitely be remedied in 2012.
  • I dragged the kids out a lot this summer in an attempt to keep them occupied and not to drive me up the walls. It was a great success and we all stayed sane. A major achievement.
  • I turned thrifty which was mostly out of necessity but many of the things I now do I would continue even if by some small miracle we were to become loaded.
  • I made things: Dresses for Princess, lavender bags, candles, garlands, cakes.
  • I decided that I wanted to write and I am not that bad at it.
  • I wrote a blog post every day for a month with NaBloPoMo. Blogher are at it again in January (er tomorrow) and I am thinking about it...
So what's in store for 2012?

Starts tomorrow so I reckon I'll find out very soon.

Happy New Year to you all xxx

Saturday is Caption Day

Last night we had a New Years Eve warm up party with the neighbours. I fear the hangover will be bigger and better on New Years Day than this morning's will be, given I am writing this at 23.57 and have yet to join the snoring upstairs, I do not know how fearful it will be. I can write, I can read, I can even work the autospellchecker button and load a photo. I don't think it will be too bad. [Translation: I am a bit squiffy, sorry.]

The small people in the house were still larking about at 22.00 keeping guests entertained so they may be a little worse for wear later. What do you think?

Go on, give us a caption!

Join in at Mammasaurus.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Worst Present Ever!

I have had a few Christmas Gifts over the years where I have seriously doubted the person sending them knew who I was. At all.

You know with Secret Santa how you pick a name and you get someone from accounts who you have never even spoken to and you have to get them something for a fiver? Or worse when it is a lucky dip and you just have to buy a random gift? It's feels a bit like you are on the receiving end of that. Only worse because the person giving should know you, should know what you like and don't like. Or should at least make a bit of an effort to pretend that they know you.

I have to be a bit careful now because there is a slim possibility that the sender of one of my worst gifts (for there have been a few) may read this. If you do recognise any of the following gifts as something you have sent me over the years, I am sorry. Sorry that I didn't tell you at the time that you were wasting your money and I'd rather have a hug.

In 3rd place is Plate warmers.

You really want one now, don't you?

Like an electric blanket that you wrap around your plates to get them toasty warm before you put your dinner on them. Obvious really. Thanks. The two plates that were typically used for dinner had previously been very happy being warmed in the oven or, dare I say it, not at all. Domestic failure me.

In 2nd place is Security Owl.
Twit twoo's alert you of intruders!

A wedding gift and admittedly it was a joke present right along with the cigarette dispensing donkey. Oh how we laughed!

In 1st place was a table top candle lit water feature (sound activated).

This does a very good impression of it. Special huh?

The really amusing part of this was that it was heavy. It was gift wrapped and I was on my honeymoon on this particular birthday. The Mr, in his new position of Mr rather than Boyfriend, dutifully carried it in his hand luggage so that I would not miss out on this birthday gift. Excitedly I peeled back the wrapping paper to reveal a brown cardboard box with no hint of the treasures secreted inside. After 20 minutes of guesswork, requisitioning AAA batteries and half a pint of water we were faced with a loud, very loud whirring, glowing, trickle. Dumbfounded! The villa in Crete where we stayed now has a very tasteful addition to its decor. It was bring that home or a bottle of Ouzo. The Ouzo won.

This year I have been very lucky indeed and was at the receiving end of a kindle and a Picnik upgrade, plus a few sundry hats, slippers and chocolate. One bonus gift was a very fetching pair of oven mits. Happy does not cover it.

What is the worst gift that you have ever received?

Monday 26 December 2011

Snap Slappers Week 7

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and that Santa bought you everything that you wished for.

Top of my list was a Picnik upgrade, and guess what? I must have been good, or at least fooled Santa well enough because I got it. Oh yes. Semi-pro me! More effects, more fonts, more stickers, more lovely juicy photo editing opportunities, who could ask for anything more?

So Ladies and Gentlemen, twas the night before Christmas and the children left a note for Santa...

Note to Santa

Problem was, so had every other child on the planet and Santa was getting just a little bit drunk...

Drunk Note to Santa

Have you been editing your photos this week? Come and join in. Silly, arty, exhibition worthy, add your post to the linky.

Five Go Blogging Snap Slappers

Saturday 24 December 2011

Saturday is Caption Day

We are back to normal this week, so, no this isn't a picture of Mammasaurus in disguise. It is The Wee One and he is desperately seeking a caption.

Child tweets

You know what to do right? Get witty and comment. Then seek further caption-less photos at Mammasaurus.

Thursday 22 December 2011

My Fantasy Christmas Dinner Party

Five Go Blogging Fantasy Dinner Party Guests

Fantasy in more ways than one.

Firstly, the very idea of me hosting a dinner party in the first place would be nothing short of a miracle. I have the ability to get stressed in epic proportions in the kitchen when there is anyone other than the Mr and my own children at the table. I don't like cooking particularly and I have a casual approach to recipes with a 'that'll do' attitude. I do cook, every day, from a stock of about 12 recipes which are dished up in rotation. Anything new, and certainly anything worthy of a dinner party, is high risk. Wanna come to dinner?

Secondly, we are a bit short of space. I could put the extra leaf in the dining table but half the guests would be eating in the front room while the rest of us would be in the dining room. I should point out that we have already knocked through the two rooms, so no masonry excavation equipment will be necessary.

Thirdly, please can a nanny be provided to distract and amuse the children while I prepare myself. This can take some time but I normally get about 15 minutes between children getting into bed and first guests arriving. Even by my lazy attitude to personal styling this is not quite enough time.

So for my fantasy dinner party I will require:

  • A caterer in the guise of Nigella Lawson. Only can I keep her behind the scenes please and take all the credit?
  • A builder in the form of Nick Knowles. Nick can stay on for dinner too, as can his gaffer Mark Millar with his cheeky Irish charm. *ahem*
  • A nanny not dissimilar to Jo Frost, in fact the very actual Jo Frost please. Once the kids are in bed she can stay on for dinner too, just in case any of the little angels decide to wake up.
  • I feel a personal stylist wouldn't go amiss and should Gok Wan be available I think he could be worthy of my invitation.
  • I'd like Mary Portas to come along so we could exchange retail strategy ideas and maybe give me a few pointers about restarting my career (at some point beyond nappies).

So that's the catering, building, children, clothing and career taken care of. *ponders*

Last up, for interiors advice and use of his staff discount card, Terence Conran. I have my eye on a very funky sofa. *nudge nudge wink wink*

So anyways, sorry if you didn't get an invite but space is at a premium around my table.

Why not throw your own party and hook up with Dorky Mum where it all started.


Wednesday 21 December 2011

Christmas Yesteryear

I may be challenging the definition of yesteryear by only going back 12 months but when I saw this photo I was reminded of our new 'tradition' that we have established in our house for Christmas Day. This is only the 2nd Christmas we have been complete as a family and will be the second Christmas we get creative and embark on our hats.

I have card, I have stickers, I have glitter and any other enhancing decorative materials that our hearts desire so let the Christmas creativity commence.

In the meantime take a gander at last years headgear. Who wants a flimsy tissue hat anyway?

Joining in with Sticky Fingers and The Gallery.
Pop over and take a gander at Christmas Yesteryear blogger style.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Snap Slappers Week 6

And I think it is appropriate to call it the Christmas Edition. No?

Only 5 sleeps to go. Feeling festive yet?

I had to wait until we had our Christmas tree well and truly decorated before the Christmas jingle hit and I found myself involuntarily singing carols to myself and frightening the dog.
We had the inevitable moment of anticipation to see how many fairy lights had smashed or blown in the 11 months in the loft and I am happy to report there was only one casualty and that was due to the iron flying pig on our hearth being a little too eager to nuzzle up to the berry lights.
After straightening out the angel's wings the tree was well and truly decorated. Well not quite. I found it 'needed' a little help from picnik. Sadly I cannot Picnik it in real life so I can either make do with the original...

or print this photo out magnified by about 1000% and tape a few reams of paper together.

Have a great Christmas and don't forget to come back next week. I'll be here wearing my Christmas jumper and eating yet another turkey sandwich xxx

Five Go Blogging Snap Slappers

Sunday 18 December 2011

Saturday 17 December 2011

Saturday Is Caption Day

Tis Saturday and the bloggers are revolting. Well one is.

I blame JBMumOfOne and Tots100.

I stand corrected. I now blame Here Come The Girls!

Apparently* the Tots100 Christmas party was nothing short of a riot, and a few drinks may have been drunk, and few laughs may have been had, and a few shapes may have been thrown on the dancefloor. Over much hilarity JBMumOfOne bonded with Mammasaurus and thought it would be a double giggle to get us all thinking up captions for photos of Mamma herself. She knows nothing of this coup. Well not yet anyway. She may get wind of it when she looks at all the entries to #satcap and spots a common theme.

I would say join in but unless you are in possession of a pic of Queen Mammasaurus** you will be standing alone I suspect.

So this one was *ahem* made available to me for the purposes of caption making and joining the revolution.

Now toddle along to Mammasaurus.

*I was sadly not in attendance.
**I was given this photo of Mamma but no money changed hands.

mammsaurus badgeSaturday Is Caption Day

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Snap Slappers - Week 5

I really should get on with preparing for Christmas.

How many sleeps to go? Answer: not enough!

But the problem is I just keep being distracted by photos. I have spent hours going back through my photographic archives (when I managed to find them) and I could improve every single one of them if I had the time, by tweaking and adjusting and playing with effects. I just LOVE it. And to make matters even worse I've started playing with photoshop too. There is so much you can do with it, but it is significantly more compicated and as I haven't quite sussed it yet I'll save you from my painful endeavours for the time being.

The subject of my photo fiddling this week is a sculpture I found at Burghley Sculpture Gardens in the summer. As is the norm, here is the before picture which managed to adopt a strange tint to it.

 And then I added a couple of effects (I can't actually remember which ones, it was all a holga, tint blur).

Now it is your turn.

Grab the badge below and add you photos to the linky and share the picnik love :)

Five Go Blogging Snap Slappers

Sunday 11 December 2011

Saturday 10 December 2011

Saturday Is Caption Day, Obviously

It is time to present you with a photo from the album. Bless her. She's a little older and maybe slightly wiser now but that expression is so her!

Think up a caption and post in the comments below. Then head over to Mammasaurus for more caption-astic fun. Tell her I sent you. :)

Thursday 8 December 2011

My Christmas Song

I was tagged by the fantastically dandruff ridden, red nosed Motherventing (go see her avatar on twitter* to see what I'm talking about) to write a post about my favourite Christmas song.

Little did she know that I don't have a favourite song. All Christmas Songs are designed to irritate and crawl under your skin so that by the time Christmas does come all you want for Christmas is ear plugs.

No, not Bah Humbug. I like Christmas but anyone who has ever worked in a shop over the Christmas season will agree. 12 hours solid Christmas carols on repeat every 45 minutes is enough to send even the most Christmassy of the Christmas elves over the edge.

Also the one Christmas song that always pops involuntarily into my head is Cliff Richard's Mistletoe and Wine which I don't even like and I wouldn't want to subject you to it either. Not even as a joke. A sad Christmas joke.

So in an alternative style, and following the animal theme that seems to be running on my blog at the moment, I give you Talking Animals** singing Deck The Halls.

Now to pass the baton on to a few more deserving bloggers who can share their favourite Christmas Songs.

Kaisa Larkas  

Ordinary Parent 


 Fa la la la laaa la la la laaaa!

* Correct at time of publishing
** Misty does not feature in this video

Wednesday 7 December 2011

My Awesome Photo

The theme for The Gallery this week is to show off the best photo what I took, innit.

With so many to choose from *ahem* *heckling from the back* it took me a while to find one that I would call awesome, that I would be proud off hanging on the wall immortalized on a giant canvas, that would be timeless.

I have some lovely pictures of the children, all individually, which I could use but then there would be the innevitable 'discussion' about why there isn't another giant canvas picture of the other children. The answer 'There isn't room.' would possibly not be good enough.

So not children then.

I have taken a couple of landscapes which I was pleased with but not of anywhere that has deep significant meaning that I wouldn't mind looking at everyday.

Then there is the Moo that is Misty who seems to be featured a lot at the moment on my blog. I think she is making up for lost time.

My ultimate awesome photo of Misty is this one which I edited (of course).

Misty Moo Five Go Blogging

You may recognise it because I use it for all my avatars :)

There is a story behind this picture. I took this late one evening so that I could send it to the Mr along with this message. "Yum! Thanks Dad. Your dinner was lovely!"

Now nip over to Sticky Fingers and admire everyone else's awesome photos.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Snap Slappers Week 4

Back again by popular demand is Snap Slappers!

All you Picnik-aholics out there looking for a vent for your addiction, this is the place. I understand that Picnik isn't for everyone (strange but true) so whatever your photo-editing software choice, add your link below.

Misty Moo is the star of the show this week, caught napping on the sofa and clearly looking very stressed.

I wanted to break with tradition this week and try something a little bit more artistic so I cropped and went all Holga-ish to produce this photo.

Still looking stressed clearly.

Add your link below. Can't wait to check out your creations!

Five Go Blogging Snap Slappers

Monday 5 December 2011

A Day At Ragdale Hall Spa

or The day Mummy got some seriously high quality Me-time. Oh yes.

Candle Pool Ragdale Hall Spa
Candle Pool, Ragdale Hall

A whole day. in a Spa, with 3 friends? Oh okay then.

Yesterday we went to Ragdale Hall in Melton Mowbray, the home of pork pies, but being a spa, there wasn't a pork pie in sight. It appears you can't have everything. Despite this early setback I was ready to take full advantage of everything that Ragdale had to offer.

Fortunately, this spa was not caffeine adverse which was just as well because I hadn't had my essential coffee pre-departure. One latte later and a 'gown' under my arm and I was heading for the pool and recognising the ubiquitous poolside problem of finding a lounger that hadn't already been bagged by a casual draping of a towel over the cushions. Help me. Why would you feel the need to hog a lounger when there is the thermal spa, the conservatory, the veranda lounge or the retreat to relax in? The pool was great, room to swim lengths just in case you felt the need to exert yourself, a hot tub and jets pummelling those shoulders. I really liked the foot jets, more than a tickle but less than a power hose, enough to release a little tension in the arches.

Finding no room in the hot tub, I wandered off to the Thermal Spa where, I could have happily spent the rest of the day had there been coffee and cakes within arms reach. Now this was the place to hog a lounger. Clearly all those abandoned towels by the pool would remain abandoned for the rest of the day because their owners had found the Spa.

At this point I started to get a little stressed because there were no less than 12 heat and water experiences to explore. Where do I start? Which is the best? How many days have I got?

Having tossed a coin, recited "eeny meeny minny mo" and closed my eyes and pointed, I decided to start in the Colourflow cave which promised a "humid and heady mix of jasmine and camomile, a river of colour flows to a central crystal mountain to provide a hedonistic detox." It was certainly nice, colourful and smelt pretty darn good but there were so many more to explore. Next stop was the indoor/outdoor waterfall pool: like stepping into a bath while your cheeks are frozen by a chilly breeze. Needing to thaw out my cheeks I tried out the Cave Shower which was amusing. Imagine being caught in a warm thunderstorm, complete with thunder and lightening. Yes really. Apparently not feasible for your average family bathroom though. I have checked.

I tried out the the Candle Pool next which was a silent zone so guaranteed to make me giggle. You walk into a pool with little cave like booths where you lie back, rest your head on a cushion, watch the lights change and listen to soft gentle music. Or not. Problem 1: I didn't realise that where you sat was shaped for your bottom so I slid down into the seat rather inelegantly. Problem 2: I was about 3 inches too short for both my bum to be on the seat and my head to be on the cushion. So the cushion floated away while I tried to keep my head above water and not slide further off the seat. Problem 3: The drain was making some interesting gurgling sounds. Result: retreat in muffled hysterics.

Last stop was the Volcanic Salt Bath offering "an intense and 100% humid experience within a velvet darkness of hewn basalt and slate." whilst giggling at the fart like sounds my sweaty thighs made on the wet benches. Hint: don't shuffle if you don't want to die of embarrassment.

I had pre-booked a Moisture Melt treatment which involved a massage and facial combo. To say that my back and shoulders needed a massage was just a bit of an understatement born out by the crunching noises echoing through my neck to my ears. I was about 10 seconds away from asking her to stop for fear of vomiting at the distressing noises. It felt like she was trying to push her thumbs through concrete and the concrete was winning. Fortunately the pummelling stopped just in time and I was flipped for the facial. Who knew that having your eyebrows massaged would be so pleasurable?

Lunch. I love a good buffet where you can go back and forth and top up your plate. So I did. A bit.

The Retreat is another silent zone in the Spa where cosy soft cushions, bean bags and sofas abound. Sadly this was the Retreat rush hour and it was gridlock. Short of sleeping nose to toes a big squishy sofa in the lounge had to do. Served it's purpose. Zzzz.

I could have joined in with a Pilate's class or tripped off back to the Thermal Spa, popped into the mind gym or had a bracing walk around the grounds of course, but it would have been a shame to waste good lounging time.

The final part of the day was a manicure. Fortunately I had the foresight to get changed back into real clothes before I tried to remove a fluffy robe with wet nail polish on. I did have to ask someone to rummage in my pockets for my locker key though, not without a small degree of blushing. The manicure was excellent and as at the end of day 2 is remarkably unchipped despite washing up, wrestling the toddler into his pram and ferocious blogging.

I am now having to go back to my earlier post, Dear Santa, and add on Spa vouchers in preparation for my next visit.

I have not been asked to review Ragdale Hall, I paid for my visit and I am writing this just to make you jealous. Bwhahahaha!

Saturday 3 December 2011

Saturday is Caption Day

Tis Saturday and as the title suggests it is Caption Day.

Think up a suitably fitting caption for this photographic masterpiece and post in the comments.

Make me smile people! I have a cold and need cheering up, I tell you!

Thanks :)

Five Go Blogging Burghley Ice House Stamford

Enjoyed that? Good, well hop along now to Mammasaurus where you'll find more caption-less photos in need of your urgent assistance. Go on. Off you go. She's got biscuits.

Friday 2 December 2011

Dear Santa

This post is inspired by the lovely From Fun To Mum

Dear Santa,

I have been good all year, good at shouting at the children, good at drinking, good at blogging, good at twittering, good at being in sole charge of the children through most of the summer (hence the drinking) and good at forgetting most things nearly all the time, and good at... no, forgotten.

So surely this year I am a deserved cause for your annual pilgrimage down our chimney?

Assuming that you are reading this and it hasn't got lost in the www, or isn't sat at the bottom of a huge pile of letters (I know I should have written this sooner), and that you are real *gasp*, here is my list.

  1. A medal. It has been a long year.
  2. Gin. As I said, it has been a long year.
  3. An iPad. My blogging antics are wearing my laptop out and I would hate to disappoint my loyal followers by failing to write due to technical errors. Having said that, this is the second time I've had to write this due to a Blogger fail. So thanks for that Blogger.
  4. I would really like a zoom lens for my camera so I can picnik my close ups too. (is it just me or does that sound slightly kinky? Just me then.)
  5. Blogging inspiration to see me through the next 12 months.
  6. A teensie little bit of me time would be seriously nice too.
  7. I would especially like you to keep the magic alive for The Big One who I am afraid is on the cusp of not believing.
Hope my list isn't too high maintenance for you. But if you had to prioritise could you see your way to making number 7 on my list happen.

Merry Christmas x

Thursday 1 December 2011

Christmas Trees, or not?

As today is the 1st December I feel that I can officially start to think about Christmas.

I am probably a bit behind compared to some of you who have not only bought all your presents but wrapped them too! I have so far bought 3 advent calendars, made a Christmas Tree (more of that later) and cried real tears over our town's Christmas Tree. A little melodramatic you might think, but twinkly lights and the start of the season that says more about family than any other, gets me all sentimental. That is how it should be, but the tears that were shed (admittedly only figuratively speaking) were over this apology of a Christmas Tree in our town centre.

Christmas tree of lights stamford

I would say it is lacking something, hold on a second, I'll put my finger on it in a minute, now what could it be missing... err, a TREE?

To me, a 'tree of lights', as it is described by our town council, should really glisten and sparkle even on the dreariest of days. This steel column and argos basic fairy lights just doesn't cut it. In fact it is already showing signs of wear thanks to some curious idiots who wondered if they could squeeze in between the light strings. Answer: Yes you can and pull a row of lights down in the process.

For the love of all things bling, even at night there is barely a glow about it.

I have even tried a little bit of picnik editing (as you know, I am a picnik-aholic) and it still looks... apologetic.

Christmas Tree by Five Go Blogging

A canvas of opinion seems to suggest that I am not alone in my disappointment but it is too late now, unless there is a friendly sympathetic Christmas Tree farm who would like to donate a tree to this sad, depressed market town in South Lincolnshire. *looks around hopefully*

In the meantime I have been putting to good use some of those Christmas catalogues that fall on the doormat on a regular basis at this time of year.

Magazine Christmas Tree

Magazine Christmas Tree
I used this tutorial to produce this little tree to sit on our window sill and then adapted it slightly by cutting off a section of the pages to make the tree stump. I am thinking I could decorate it with a bit of glitter and perhaps a cut out star to add the finishing touch. But I also like how it looks au naturel.

Now if I could only find a big enough catalogue I could make a tree for our town.