31 December 2013

see you next year!

Image via Pinterest
So I love New Year. Not the parties or the getting drunk (even though we've shared good times together) but the fresh start. The re-evaluation the occurs and the time you spend thinking about what you've achieved in the year that has past (rather quickly!) and how that urges you to think about the things you want to change, work on or improve on in the new year. It's like a spring clean for the mind, body and soul!

There are a few things I want to work on in the new year, and one of those is confidence and believing in myself and my abilities, and that includes this little blog here.

When I was younger I didn't really have much self confidence, I was afraid to do things by myself and would never push myself to the limit. Then when I finished college and left the comfort and security of my home and friends I decided I needed to do something about it. So I got various jobs, saved up some money and packed my bag for a solo trip around Scotland, Orkney and the Shetland Islands, Norway and Sweden. It was a pretty lonely trip, but filled with walking, photographing, travelling on boats and trains, reading, camping, preparing simple meals and above all taking in the breathtaking scenery. There's nothing that helps clear your mind and put you in perspective like gazing upon mountains, glaciers and fjords. It may sound cheesy and clique, but that trip really did change me.

Upon my return I had one last wild summer with my friends before embarking on my University journey. This was daunting, as I'm sure it is for most; living in a new place, meeting new people and learning. I've always been a fairly independent person so wasn't really afraid of being in a new place, in fact I relished the freedom. But the meeting new people and having to sort of 'sell' yourself or at least all your best points made me very nervous. But of course as time went on I naturally gravitated towards like minded people and we formed great friendships. I then had to overcome confidence issues in the under taking of my photography projects and work. It was hard at first, but then I found I loved the challenge of talking to new people, setting up shoots, building relationships and organising and planning trips. I felt pretty alive!

But now I don't feel that so much, I feel like I've lost what took me so long to gain and I don't believe in myself any more. And it shows, here on this blog I feel like I want to do so much more, with my photography, with my words and with my socialising, but I am just a little afraid. I get intimidated by actually talking to people online (which is kind of silly because the beauty of the internet is that most people actually feel more comfortable communicating online). Maybe its easier for some people because you can project an image of the best parts of yourself, you can have the confidence here that you don't have in real life. You can have total control of how you appear, what your personality is like and your interests. I do love the internet for that, but call me old fashioned but I feel much more comfortable doing that face to face. I am more shy online that I am in real life!

So 2014 will hopefully be a year where I start to believe in myself. I want to be able to have a confidence in what I do, who I am and I want to be able to share that here too. I want this space to not only be about my family and our adventures, but also a space to share what is inspiring me, my interests and my memories. I would love to share with you more stories of my past and some of my solo adventures. Perhaps I will even show you projects and work I have done in the past in a hope to inspire me to make new work for myself in the future.

I started a little new board on Pinterest to gather inspiring things that may help in my quest for the new year, and I love this little list:

Image via pinterest
So those are my resolutions, how about you? What would you like to do or change in the new year?

29 December 2013

fifty-two / fifty- two!

And so we've reached the end, and of course it had to be Christmas. We celebrated our third Christmas day, opened more presents and stuffed our faces as per usual.

This year has been a good one; fun, adventurous and with it's ups and downs. I'm glad I managed to capture little parts of it and looking back through all the photos through this project is, and is going to be, a great record of small and big moments that have happened. 

Hope you've all had a lovely break over the festive period, and have a happy new year! I'm certainly looking forward to a new year, all the new adventures it will bring and new changes around the corner. I'm hoping to do a little more with this blog and put a bit more effort in as I have certainly been lacking recently. So see you in 2014! 

22 December 2013

oh the weather outside is frightful...

image via pinterest
...but the fire is so delightful!

I don't know about where you are but the weather has been a little bit wild this weekend! We've managed to get out a bit, but as it starts to get dark we rush home and then it's time to get cozy, put on a film and light the fire and listen to the wind howling and the rain against the windows.

I say light the fire, but we sadly only have a wall hung gas fire in our house and I long for a real open fire, fireplace or contemporary inset wood burning stove. I miss lighting fires, everything from the searching for wood, chopping, building the fire, keeping it going and sitting back and admiring your masterpiece.

image via pinterest
Image via pinterest
image via pinterest
image via pinterest
When I was growing up we lived in an old cottage which had a giant fireplace with a lovely traditional wood burner, I remember laying by it, toasting chestnuts and watching the flames. Later when I worked in a pub my first job of the day was to clean out and make the fire, and keep it stocked and going until the end of the day. Next my fire making skills took me to building open fires in tipis and then building them in a little stove to keep us warm in the yurt that I lived in through a very cold Welsh winter! I do miss it very much!

Image via pinterest
Image via Pinterest
So I'm going into full hibernation mode, and as you may have noticed it's been pretty quiet around these parts. We've just been so busy and to be honest I've just haven't felt like blogging as much. I'm hoping the break over Christmas will give me a little space from the internet so I can enjoy it again.

It's my birthday tomorrow, and I'm going to enjoy some time off with family and friends over the next week or so. I will probably pop in with the final 52 post and to wish everyone a merry christmas, but I'd like to take this opportunity (in case I don't actually get round to it!) to say happy holidays to everyone, hope you all have a lovely, relaxing break! Thanks for all your support and love over this past year, and lets hope we're here for another year!

Happy Christmas!

This post contains sponsored links, but all words are my own! 

21 December 2013

fifty-one / fifty-two

We took a little stroll to the Clifton suspension bridge as dusk was creeping in, we watched the car with their lights from high up above and raced along the walk way. I love impromptu little outings such as these, but love returning home to warm up even better!

We're so nearly there, one more picture left for the whole year, I can't wait to look back at them all and remember the year that has once again flown by. 

20 December 2013

christmas traditions

Now that I'm older, married and have a family of my own (that's a scary sentence!) it's been funny to see how the joining of families starts to change the Christmas traditions you grew up with.

Last year, with a bid to not do much travelling over Christmas we spent it at home with Rob's family. We went there for Christmas day to have lunch and presents. It's funny joining another family and it all feeling a little alien.  Every family varies in the time that they actually sit down to lunch, sometimes the potatoes are cooked differently and there is possibly the appearance of a disgusting looking congealed lumpy sauce that some people seem to think is delicious when in fact it makes me want to vomit just a little...yep bread sauce!

Weird sisters

We had a mini Christmas day last weekend with my Mum as we won't be seeing her over the holidays as she is spending it with my sister in Spain, and we spoke a little about how our traditions have changed over the years and the inclusion of new ones from our different families. So here is a little list of my traditions, how we do things on Christmas day and how Rob's family do things differently!

1) Firstly stockings: always at the end of the bed! There's nothing more exciting to waking up feeling that heavy stocking laying by your feet and to hear the rustle of paper as you kick it to make sure! To be opened in bed still in your pyjamas. When we were little it was always my eldest sisters bed we would pile into, and even though we always said "next year we'll open them in my room!" it never happened.

2) After opening stockings and the present unwrapping urges have been met (for now!) you are permitted to get out of bed for a lazy breakfast. My mum likes to serve bucks fizz with croissants, but I'm pretty sure we've had a simple cooked breakfast round Rob's parents before.

When we were little we used to drag my dad out of bed and we were allowed to open one main present before breakfast (if I remember correctly!) whilst my mum had a lie in before cooking lunch.

3) After breakfast it's time to get dressed and get started on the dinner, or put christmas music on, put a film on, or get the snacks out, or all of the above. It's a bit of a free for all no-mans land. Or maybe a good time to go for a walk, or try out the new bike father Christmas gave you etc...

4) Probably about 1-2pm the lunch is served. Crackers were always pulled before you start eating in my house, but apparently in Rob's house it's when you've finished eating. Rob's family also have table presents, which are small funny or useful gifts..just to keep you going. I must just mention there is NEVER bread sauce served in my family!

 5) After dinner and pudding we can waddle to the sofa and try and resist the lure of post-dinner snoozes for a film/tv watching and eventually present opening. We have one person stationed by the tree who passes a present to each person in turn. This last for a few minutes before it all gets a bit much and presents are just usually chucked at random.

6) More eating/ drinking/ lazing/ playing with new toys continues until it's time for the cheese board and perhaps some games.

7) Then it's back round the telly for Christmas specials of Eastenders and the like (definitely not Eastenders in Rob's house!), more eating/drinking, then perhaps more games before we all take our bloated bellies to bed!

Other traditions include playing a game called 'dibbles' on boxing day, which is a sort of raffle of (mainly) crap presents, which everyone has provided. Then a mad frenzy of swapping occurs, swapping spatulas for mini bottles of booze or a notepad! Rob's family have tree presents which are opened on boxing day. (This concept of table and tree presents is completely new to me, I'd never known anyone else to do it!)

When I was obsessed with football and a Man U fan, obvs. (Also note my sega game gear attachment)

So that's about it! What are your favourite or weird family traditions, or what have you had to sacrifice/endure/enjoy with your partners families?

14 December 2013

fifty / fifty-two

- A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013 - 
I can't believe a year has gone by and is drawing to a close, but what a way to spend the year, capturing our children every week and seeing them all grow together. I couldn't resist yet another portrait of Theo engrossed in his surroundings, in nature once again. We really do cherish the time we spend outside running wild and discovering environments. 

12 December 2013

all that glitters

So I have become slightly obsessed with all things glittery and glitzy recently. Well thats a little bit of a lie, I have always been a little bit in love with the glitz and went through a stage of finding the most outrageous sequinned, jewelled and beaded blinging 80's tops and jackets back when I was in college (and back when there were no such things as 'vintage' sections in charity shops!) I wonder what has
become of my collection actually?

Anyway, already I'm getting sidetracked by glitter...I recently started a little pinterest board to collect all my glitter loves and I thought now would be the perfect time to share a little glitter crafting with you.

When I was searching for shoes for the wedding I couldn't really find anything that was perfect. I wanted something classic and vintage styled, but with a little bit of character and not too high or strappy. So after searching high and low in the end I decided that customising would be the best bet. I found a lovely pair of shoes in good old M&S which seemed to fit the bill, and for a bargain of £20 too. I then bought a few supplies (or raided Theo's craft box) such as PVA glue and some gold glitter. I think I had seen something similar in Topshop, but they were all too high and too expensive.

So here is my simple step by step guide of how to add a little glitz to some shoes, which would be great for the party season too!

You will need:

A pair of shoes of your choice
PVA Glue
Loose glitter (large particles)
Spray adhesive or varnish
Small paintbrush

NB It is advisable to protect the rest of the fabric of the shoe when glueing and especially when spraying. Always spray in a well ventilated (preferably outside) area and leave to dry well before touching or wearing. It's worth giving them a final touch up for any missed bits, and shake off any excess glitter before finally spraying with varnish/adhesive. A damp sponge can be used to remove any glitter from unwanted areas. You can obviously paint whichever areas you wish, be it heel, toe or just the underside, my shoes obviously had a area which was already different from the main fabric of the shoe which made making the shoes match easier.

I was really happy with the way they turned out and I'm pleased to say that they survived being worn all day and I got lots of compliments!

11 December 2013

it's looking a lot like christmas

Last weekend we went to get our tree and even though we did originally want to go and cut down our own, we thought it would be a lot better (and kinder!) to get a tree still with its roots so we could attempt to keep it alive throughout the year, and then use it again next year and the year after etc...It's a small but sweet tree and we had fun decorating it!

The rest of the downstairs has started to look a lot more Christmassy too, and we've been crafting away making paper snowflakes (Theo is obsessed at cutting with scissors at the moment), making snowmen and reindeer and even baking some gingerbread biscuits for the tree, and to eat of course!

Theo also received a very special card courtesy of Cardoo. We normally get Theo a card and this year he has been super excited about getting post, so I wrote it out and then put it through the letter box for him to collect. This card is a little different, as it contains a story and activities to do such as colouring, stickers and games. I think its such a great idea, and Cardoo have a great range of activity and story cards for all occasions and ages.

Have you decorated yet? I would love to see some of your decorations, hear about your traditions and see what you've been crafting!

Theo received his Cardoo card as a gift! 

09 December 2013

portraits in film

Seeing as the weather is getting chillier and crisp I thought I would dig out a few photos from last winter. Taken with our beloved hasselblad 6x6 that definitely needs to be brought out more...

08 December 2013

forty-nine / fifty-two

This week our Friday adventure returned and we took a little trip outside of Bristol to Puxton park. We played on diggers, met an owl, fell in love with some rabbits and had a little ride on a mini train much to someones pure delight! A fun, but very tiring day was had by all!

Last week I loved this brilliant portrait, what an amazing sky! 

04 December 2013

a behaviour update

I've mentioned before now about the struggles we have with Theo's behaviour, and I just thought I'd do a little update.

It's hard for me to talk about really because it's a daily stress that sometimes I find it really hard to deal with. Things don't seem to be getting any better, and sometimes in fact they seem a little worse than they were a few months ago, if thats possible. He is regularly hitting and screaming at us at home as well as still hitting other children. It's just pretty difficult to reason with him, and even though we are pretty consistent with our dealing with the behaviour it still doesn't seem to work.

When he hits us at home we take him to the stairs to sit and have a calm down. We've never called it the naughty step, and he can stay there as long as he feels he needs to. At nursery they have told me that when he's in the garden that sometimes if he feels cross he will take himself off to a bench or steps and sit with his arms crossed until he feels better. This is the one good thing I have seen develop in the last few weeks. He understands what the emotion anger is, and we have told him it's ok to feel cross and angry but that hitting/screaming/biting/throwing isn't acceptable behaviour to deal with it. We always try and focus on the fact that the behaviour is the thing that is bad, not him himself. I've learnt that I just need to let him calm down on his own because if I try and tell him whilst he's still raging what I think of his behaviour then he just ends up screaming in my face even more. 

When we're out and he hits other children or me then we will try and find somewhere to have a calm down, and often he will walk away and sit himself down. But from what I can see of when he is around other children, either at the park, nursery or round a friends house, is that he seems to perceive every child as a threat and doesn't give them the chance to interact with, he'll just go to hit them if they get too close. He doesn't seem to be able to use his words quick enough so will just lash out first. He seems to understand quite well after that what he has done is not acceptable, and will always try and say sorry but just can't control it in the moment. 

Today the health visitor came to visit me to have a talk and to observe Theo. They have also suggested at nursery that they would like to get a behaviour specialist in to see what they think the reasons for the way he acts are and to provide guidance on how best to deal with it. The HV gave some really good advice, to basically carry on what we are doing, but to firm up my voice when dealing with the behaviour and certain phrases to use. I also think having a specialist observe him whilst at nursery is a good idea and I'm hoping it will provide some answers.

For now I thought I would include this interesting article on tantrums:

Building Toddler Confidence: Great Ways to Beat Tantrums
Any parent of a toddler will, or should be, used to tantrums by now and if you’re a parent of a child who hasn’t had a tantrum yet, brace yourselves, because it will happen eventually. Every child is different and the way in which parents deal with a wobbler is different – there is no right way of handling it, no matter what the books and child psychologists may say.
Tantrums are a completely normal reaction that can be frustrating for us, but imagine what the child is dealing with. Many of the tantrums they have, particularly when they’re younger and don’t really understand what they’re doing, are due to an overwhelming panic that builds up in their brain. Where it stems from will depend on the particular scenario that has triggered it but the only way in which the child can handle their brain activity is to let hell break loose on whoever is around them!
By building a toddler’s confidence and having a few little tricks up your sleeve, you will have the tools you need to try and diffuse the tantrum before it happens. Here are a few ideas.
This is a marvellous method that can really work if you read your child’s cues quick enough. If you can see a potential tantrum bubbling beneath their skin, distract them! Whether it’s with a toy that plays a tune and grabs their attention, such as the super cute Dance & Play Puppy that’s been on the TV recently, or it’s you doing a silly dance and acting a little daft, distraction can work wonders.
Stay Calm
Your children won’t be able to get a hold of their emotions if you react badly. They’re still learning how to control their impulsive reactions and need you to stay calm. Imagine someone shouting at you and making you feel worse when you’re feeling ratty and stressed – it won’t make you feel better, will it!
Get down to their level
Make eye contact with them and talk to them on their level. Looking at them straight in the eyes should help to calm them down and improve the chance of the tantrum subsiding.
Change the environment
It’s amazing what this can do if they’re mid-meltdown. Nip outside with them or run them a bath; a change of scenery can help them to calm down. Going outside will also give them the chance to run around and get some fresh air, too.

Tantrums don’t have to be embarrassing and difficult to deal with – stay calm and they’ll (hopefully) co-operate in no time!

Written in collaboration with Kira. 

03 December 2013

honeymoon blues

Now I haven't really written about our honeymoon (or the wedding for that matter!) on here at all and even though it was nice to have a break, the truth is is that we didn't have that good of a time.

Now you know me, I love a good holiday and an adventure and add a child free week to that and we should have been laughing right? Wrong!

We booked a last minute all inclusive deal to Tunisia, and even though it's not my usual cup of tea for a holiday (I much prefer exploring browsing in shops, galleries and cafe hanging, or taking in beautiful views, going on walks and discovering the landscape) I thought it would at least be relaxing after the hectic few months we had in the build up to the wedding. In hindsight we should have taken more time to really think about where we wanted to go, and researched the hotel a little bit more because to say we were disappointed was an understatement!

A honeymoon is supposed to be a once in a lifetime trip away, one you'll treasure and want to remember for the rest of your life, not one that you wish was over and never want to think about again! I know I sound a bit ungrateful that we had the chance to go away somewhere abroad as there are so many people who don't have the chance, but I just wished we hadn't have bothered! I wish we'd just stayed in the UK or closer to home or just found a place that was really perfect. If I were to go on an all inclusive holiday again I would want to know the resort we were going to was a great one and that we'd book with someone other than Thompson.

I also want more from a holiday! Sitting around by the pool is nice for a day or two, but after that I need more structure, I find it hard to relax. I would love to take the opportunity to do some classes or visit a spa and experience the local culture a little more.

So our honeymoon was a bit of a disaster and we would love to be able to take a holiday where we could actually enjoy ourselves, eat good food (the food at our hotel was one of the reasons we had such a terrible time!) take part in great activities (again another big reason we had a rubbish time!) that we wouldn't be able to try at home and have lots of fun! I would love to be able to take Theo along too and know that he could be very well catered for. I don't want my only experience of all inclusive holidays to be tainted by this one bad experience, and I know that I don't want to remember our honey moon as a miserable week spent wishing we were somewhere else!

This is why I would absolutely love the opportunity of becoming a Mark Warner holiday ambassador, having a chance to go on a Mark Warner holiday would mean so much to us as a couple and of course as a family. Last year when we took part in the Active family month we were so inspired (and hopefully inspired some of you!) to get out and be active as a family and spend some proper quality time together. Being given the chance to go somewhere new and exciting as a family where we could try our hand at new activities and perhaps learn some new skills would be something we wouldn't want to end or forget quickly!

But for now our next few holidays are going to be closer to home, and after our amazing holiday to Cornwall last year we just want to explore and discover more great places. Taking a break from our normal routine and spending quality time together as a family are really important to us, and I know for my own sanity I need to go adventuring quite a lot of the time! I can't wait for Theo to build up great memories of our holidays, and even if that means just spending a week in a tent in Wales or Cornwall then so be it. We would of course jump at the chance of taking a once in a lifetime holiday though and I know it would be throughly enjoyed by all of us.

So here's hoping I get whisked away on some surprise anniversary trip to Paris next year (hint hint!) or that we are lucky enough to become a Mark Warner ambassador to make up for our terrible terrible honeymoon!

This is NOT a sponsored post, but written in support of becoming a #markwarnermum
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