Thursday 31 May 2012

Reasons to be cheerful XXXXIII ( #R2BC )

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
The weather may have taken a turn for the worse but I'm still smiling and here's why:

1) winning things!

Recently I have won tickets to the Blackpool attractions and a second set of Legoland Discovery tickets! Lots of family fun to look forward to :-)

2) Country Fest

We spent a big chunk of the weekend at Country Fest. It may have been a little too hot for my liking but we had a marvellous time:

3) Jubilee

My family are really getting into the spirit of the celebrations now. Today the school had a whole day of fun activities (somewhat curtailed by the first rain for 2 weeks!). It ended with a school fair where we had a chance to purchase some of the cake competition winners:

4) Holidays

I finished work today so I can go on the children's school hike tomorrow and then look forward to half term with my children and my parents :-)


Wednesday 30 May 2012

Wednesday book review: Out of Time - Gill Jepson

This is Gill's debut novel and it's based around her love of her local area and especially Furness abbey. It may be a book aimed at teens but it had me hooked! I love the fact that it's based in the nearby Furness peninsula.

The book combines a mystery and time travel as Rebecca and her friends race against evil forces to find the hidden treasure. The action takes place in Tudor times, the 1930s and modern day. It includes ghosts and monsters too.

If you love Cumbria and enjoy a historical mystery with a bit of fantasy then I recommend this book. The sequel is due out soon so I will add that to my reading list...

I really need to drive along and visit the abbey this holiday and put the places in the book into context.

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Don't grow up

I work with teenagers so know that all too soon my children will be teens themselves. Wish I could put a pause button on and keep them like this:

This was my sleeping angel this morning. I kept kissing him and he smiled in his sleep but didn't wake up! Moments to treasure.

Monday 28 May 2012

Monday book review: Barefoot Books

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I was sent some books to review by Barefoot Books these are the two picture books I was given to share with my 5 year old.

1) Grandpa's Garden - Stella Fry and Sheila Moxley

All year, Billy helps his grandpa in the vegetable garden.

This is the delightful story of Billy and his grandpa in the vegetable garden. It takes you and your child through the seasons as there are different jobs to do depending on the time of year. It starts in winter when all seems dead and finishes with the autumn harvest.

The illustrations are bright and colourful and the story not too complicated. When it ends then there are tips for planting your own vegetable garden and each season has its own list of Grandpa's tips and jobs.

This book is therefore not just a story but also a gardening guide for children. This makes the price of £5.99 a very good one.

2) Port Side Pirates - Oscar Seaworthy and illustrator Debbie Harter

Oh we go this way, that way, port side, starboard over the deep blue sea!

Many people will be familiar with this song or variations on this song. In this book each verse is accompanied by illustrations of the young pirate crew as they go on their adventures. Each page has plenty to explore.

For the non musical the accompanying CD will provide the correct tune and professional voice of Mark Collins. If you are able to read music then the lyrics and tune are at the end of the book.

There are also some fascinating pirate facts plus a numbered guide to the parts of a pirate ship. The paperback with CD comes at £6.99 or without the CD for £5.99 so well worth the extra £1! If your child is a big pirate fan there is also an accompanying activity book (£3.99) and there will be a sticker book and pirate puppet in June.

Both of these books would make a lovely addition to your 3-7 year olds bookcase.

Saturday 26 May 2012

Saturday Photo Fun: Marblecam

Thanks to Instagram I have been introduced to the joys of Marblecam. This is a free app that leaves your pictures looking like a marble suspended in the air. Here is what I have done so far:

Can you guess what the originals were?

Friday 25 May 2012

#TheGallery: Picture Postcard

Thanks Tara for once again setting a lovely challenge. Only problem is choosing just one photo... Well I guess my all time favourite was this postcard style shot of Grasmere this January:

we were on a 3 generation hike over Loughrigg Fell. It was a blue sky day but ice and frost on the ground. You can read the original post here. This picture just came out perfectly in terms of light and colour and is a great postcard for Cumbria.


Thursday 24 May 2012

Reasons to be cheerful XXXXII ( #R2BC )

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Once again it's that time of the week and not too hard to find reasons to smile this time!

1) Summer has arrived

and we are spending as much time as possible outside whilst it lasts!

I even got the kids Wendy house up to give some shade out back!

2) Family time

My dad came round for a BBQ on Sunday. It was lovely spending time with him and the children doing things like putting up my daughter's den in the garden:

I then got to chill in the den with my daughter whilst grandad played football with my son!

3) Proud mummy

My son got on his sister pedal bike and actually rode it for the first time. He has been a real demon on a balance bike but was reluctant to pedal. Now there is no stopping him (just need to get him on his own big boy bike!):

4) My big girl

She is really growing up and showing no fear of things like the rope swing into the river at Staveley:

This weather may not last but it's certainly had us smiling! Why not join the hop:

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Little Dish Shoes giveaway

As part of my membership to the Sainsbury’s Bank Family Blogger Network, I can offer you four limited edition packs of Little Dish shoes and a meal for your toddler. All courtesy of Sainsbury’s Bank Car Insurance.

Little Dish are supporting this year's Barnado's Big Toddle and they will be selling limited edition toddling shoes in special packs of our Chicken and Butternut Squash Pie for just £5. The shoes will come in three different sizes for toddlers, on sale exclusively in Sainsbury’s from the 23rd May for 10 days only.

You can find out more about the Barnardo’s Big Toddle and how to register here, and find them on facebook.

If you’re too busy to Toddle but will still like to contribute, you can text TODD123 to 70070 to instantly donate £3 that will go directly towards transforming the lives of under 5s. You can read more about where the money raised goes here.

Sainsbury's Bank are giving away 4 of the packs from my blog using a rafflecopter giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To enter:

    • log in to Rafflecopter with your Facebook account or your email address and...
    • ...enter the draw up to 3 times by leaving a blog post comment, tweeting about the giveaway or ‘liking’ the blog post.
    • The more times you enter the better your chances of winning.
    • The winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter (which uses and announced on this page. Entrants must state the required size.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

#FamilyFun: Water Fun

Here we in week 10 and this week's theme is water fun. With the possibility that summer may finally have arrived and everyone getting all hot and bothered how are you using water as a family to keep cool?

get the InLinkz code

This is how we did it today:

1) I bought some cheap Poundland water pistols and we all got varying degrees of we

2) We headed to the river for paddling and a rope swing (my son wasn't brave enough to try it!):

Monday 21 May 2012

Monday Review: Schleich Smurfs

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My children were pleased to get a bunch of Schleich Smurfs in the post. We somehow managed to miss the film but my children knew what they were.

To get in the spirit of an Olympic year the Smurfs are all doing a different sport:

We had a weight lifter, a beach volley ball player, a swimmer and a relay runner. Each character has its little details to bring it to life. They really appealed to me but my children were happier with other toys.

This maybe because they are more of a looking at model than a playing with one. They also aren't major Smurf fans and so weren't as enthusiastic as me!

Altogether there are 10 sporty smurfs to collect. They are available in box sets of 5 from £16.75. As individual items they are around £4.

I definitely think these are heading for my collection rather than the childrens'!

Saturday 19 May 2012

#SurnameSaturday: Spencer

The Spencer surname entered our family with my ancestor with the best name Hannah Honorah Audrey Spencer. She was born in Newton-in-Makerfield, Lancashire in 1886. Her parents were Edward and Martha (nee Barnes).

At the time of her birth her father was in the police force (he would later be sacked for embezzlement - a story I haven't explored yet). Initially he had been a woollen cloth weaver in Guiseley, Yorkshire. He married Martha in Stanningley, Yorkshire in 1871. They moved to Lancashire after the birth of their eldest son Albert Edward in 1873 as all their remaining children were born in Lancashire. It must have been a big decision to move so far away from all their family in Yorkshire but a career in the police force must have been a dream job.

Edward was born in Beggars Bush Barracks, Dublin in 1850. His father Edward was a private in the 55th (Westmorland) Regiment of Foot and his mother Catherine Dunne was the daughter of a leather worker Timothy Dunne. They were married in 1848 at St Bridget's Church, Dublin.

Edward senior had been born in Guiseley in 1820 and worked as a woollen cloth weaver in the mills after leaving the army. His was the son of Dennis and Hannah (nee Whittam). Dennis was recorded as being a clothier in 1841.

Dennis had been born in Calverley, Yorkshire in 1794. His parents were Joshua and Hannah (nee Hainsworth). Joshua was born in Calverley in 1762 and married Hannah there in 1783. His father Edward had married Elizabeth Yeward in Calverly in 1762. Edward was another clothier and had been born at Tong, Yorkshire in 1731. He was the son of Jeremy and Sarah (nee Maylor). Their marriage took place in Tong in 1721 and he was another clothier.

So my Spencer connection is firmly rooted in Yorkshire for at least 100 years. The family were heavily involved in the woollen cloth trade and it's only the 2 Edwards in the mid 1800s who broke the mould with careers in the army and police force. The addition of Irish ancestry through Catherine Dunne adds an intriguing twist to the family. After the move to Lancashire the next 2 generations of my family were born there and it was my father who moved away in the 1960s.

Friday 18 May 2012

Family history Friday: World War 1 Medal Records

I knew that my great grandfather Charles Band had served during the First World War as on his wedding day in 1915 he was wearing uniform:

Apart from that I knew nothing. So when I came across his medal record card this week it was very exciting:

It details his ranks and regiments during the war, his application dates for the 1914 Star and the British Victory Star. There are also various addresses for correspondence. Interestingly at one point he was living at his mother in law's hotel in Skelmersdale.

These extra facts are what make family history so rewarding and addictive!

Friday review: Schleich Dinosaurs

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There was much excitement from my 5 year old son when I told him we were being sent dinosaurs to review. Every day he would ask have my dinosaurs arrived yet mummy?. So when they did come in the post he was very keen to get them out and start playing with them.

My son is a mini expert so he informed me that we had been sent a brachiosaurus, a spinosaurus and a parasaurolophus! Amazing how toys can stretch a child's vocabulary...

He briefly let me photograph him playing with them before scooping them up to take outside to show his friends. Since then we have taken dinosaurs to various places and he loves having adventures with them.

Schleich's attention to detail really comes across with the dinosaurs and the spinosaurus even has a jaw that opens and closes. This makes role play even more exciting.

If you have a dinosaur fan in the family then these would be an excellent edition to their collection. The range starts at £2 but the ones we were sent were £4 (brachiosaurus), £8 (parasaurolophus) and £10 (spinosaurus).

Thursday 17 May 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful: XXXXI ( #R2BC )

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Here are this week's reasons to smile! Having realised that I have actually spent the last couple of weeks feeling like my glass is half empty I'm feeling much more positive this week :-)

1) The car

After months of struggling with my car in the mornings and increasingly after work too it is a real mood shifter to have it working properly! It turned out that the air was getting in the fuel system due to a leaky pipe. This has now been fixed by a lovely mechanic David Break and my car has never started so well.

2) Fun in the sun

On Saturday it was a fund raising fun day for Help for Heroes in Staveley. In turned out to be such a glorious day that I got slightly sun burned! The kids had a great time and hopefully we helped to raise plenty of money too:

3) My Son

For the first time my 5 year old managed the monkey bars at the park. This is a real milestone as he has until now struggled to carry his own weight on just his arms. Just to prove it wasn't a fluke he re-did it again today:

4) 15 minutes of fame

The article about my 730 blips appeared both on the local newspaper website and in the actually paper. In fact my story is the headline on the A boards outside newsagents! Amazing what happens when you get addicted to taking a photo a day:

5) My daughter

At times my daughter can be so grown up. Today in the park she very nicely helped to play with a 10 month old boy and it was fabulous to see. Just hope she shows more of that side!

Thursday Review: Japanese Best Friend Doll

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You know that a product is going to be a hit when your child ignores you saying wait until I'm ready and starts cracking on with it! These are a traditional Japanese kokeshi dolls which are hand painted to give to friends. The set comes with 3 dolls, paints, brush and decorations. There are clear instructions (which my daughter as usual failed to take out of box and read!). The most important instruction is to wait 15 minutes between coats which it recommends doing by rotating through the 3 dolls in turn.

As you can see my daughter is a very hasty person and I'm sure a neater finish would be possible with more care! The instructions give various ideas for how to finish the dolls and my daughter did a variety of them:

You then attach a message to the doll and insert a secret message into the space underneath.

The dolls have an RRP of £9.99 and are aimed at girls aged 8 plus. If your daughter is having a sleepover then either she could make one for each friend or if it's just 3 girls then they could paint one each. My daughter certainly enjoyed painting the dolls and with more patience they would have had a better finish but they are a lovely idea for tween age girls.

Wednesday 16 May 2012

#TheGallery: Morning

Glad to have Tara back with a theme of morning. Here is my take on it with a photographic journal of my morning today:

First of all I had to wake my sleeping angels:

Then I enjoyed the lovely view whilst I made breakfast and put together the children's packed lunches:

A quick whizz to do school run and a top up shop before walking into Kendal for my weekly coffee morning and church cell group:

Finally I walked to work partly along the banks of the River Kent:

Tuesday 15 May 2012

5 Tips to improve your photography

I am writing this whist waiting to be photographed by my local paper for taking 2 years of daily photos on Blipfoto. Here are my 5 tips for improving your photography as an amateur:

  1. Always take your camera/camera phone: if you haven't got it with you then you may miss out on a great photo opportunity! I use my iPhone so 95% of time I have it on me. For big trips I also take my digital compact.
  2. Join photo sharing sites: sites such as Instagram, Flickr and Blipfoto are good ways to see what others do and to get tips and advice on how to make your photos better.
  3. Keep your eyes peeled: when you are out and about look around for things that are either lovely to look at or quirky.
  4. "Collect" a series: I took a whole series of post box photographs trying to get one for every monarch since Victoria. It makes for a challenge to try and spot new ones.
  5. Take lots of photos: with digital technology you can take 100s or 1000s of photographs in a day and then you have plenty to choose from!
What are your 5 tips?

Monday 14 May 2012

Monday Review: Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom: The Elf Games

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For fans of Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom this is the latest DVD collection brought out to join in with the Olympic summer. In total there are 11 episodes to watch:

  • The elf games
  • Nanny's lesson
  • Mrs witch
  • Elf joke day
  • King Thistle's new clothes
  • Elf school
  • The Royal Golf Course
  • Morning noon and night
  • Gaston's visit
  • Trip to the seaside
The DVD gives options of choosing one episode, play all or magic shuffle. This gives a chance to have a short session or a long one.

Each story has a little lesson for children to learn in a story fashion. It also shows how the different Elves and Fairies do things differently but that working together brings out the best results. Some of the episodes such as nanny's lesson teach children about farm animals and where eggs, milk and wool come from.

Both my 5 year old son and 8 year old daughter were content to sit quietly and watch the DVD together. We don't normally watch the show so it was a nice treat to have a selection of episodes. At £8.99 for 11 episodes it's not bad value at all.