Project 365: Weeks Three & Four

Today I’m posting two weeks worth of 365 photos because I was away from my laptop last week, as you’ll see from my photos!

So here we go, Sunday 11th to Saturday 24th January 2015.

Day Eleven

On day eleven we did what all superheroes do and made multicoloured spaghetti for messy play. We’ve never done this before and Rowan thoroughly enjoyed it.

An average afternoon ...

An average afternoon …

Day Twelve

Monday was a pretty boring day, if I’m honest! The only time I took a photo was when Louis was reading bedtime jokes to me. I’m so glad we’re able to read joke books now. Kids made up jokes are pretty rubbish mostly, aren’t they!

Reading a few jokes

Reading a few jokes

Day Thirteen

13th January was my 33rd birthday. My sister offered to take me out for lunch since the kids were at school and Ted was at work, so we walked up Holcombe Hill which is about 7 miles away from my house. Then we lunched at the Shoulder of Mutton in Holcombe Village. It was a lovely day. We had a flurry of snow at the start of our walk which was beautiful.

Me and my sister

Me and my sister

Day Fourteen

Back to normality on day 14. The boys came home from school and it transpires that Louis is a fan of monsters. Not just any old monsters though – ones he creates himself. He’d designed four that day. He’s incredibly proud of his creations – and I’m incredibly proud of him.

Louis' monster creations

Louis’ monster creations

Day Fifteen

We received our Big Garden Birdwatch pack, ready for our survey tomorrow. The RSPB do this every year and it provides valuable information on which birds we’re seeing more (and less) of at this time of year in different parts of the country.

Big Garden Birdwatch

Big Garden Birdwatch

Day Sixteen

Friday 16th saw me packing my case ready for my trip to Morocco. A birthday gift from my husband – isn’t he wonderful?!

I took me forever to choose what to take but fortunately this dress looked better on me than it did my hubs!

Man in a dress. Kinda.

Man in a dress. Kinda.

Day Seventeen

After a long journey, Emma and I arrived at our destination: Agadir, Morocco. As we arrived at our room we were greeted by this beautiful sight. Watching the sun setting on the horizon was just wonderful.  This photo was taken from the patio.

Moroccan Sunset

A beautiful Moroccan sunset

Day Eighteen

Another photo of myself! I’m becoming quite vain this week!

This is the dress previously modelled by th’usband. I rather hope it looks better on me!

A photo of myself!

A photo of myself!

Day Nineteen

A VERY busy day today. We rode camels, visited an Argan Oil factory, traavelled to what is left of the original city of Agadir after the 1916 earthquake that killed a third of its people, and took photos of a magnificent mosque – the biggest in the city. Lastly, we visited the Souk. We had opted for the small souk rather than the big (scary) one and what a wonderful experience it was. I bought a pashmina softer than a baby’s bottom and a real, handmade leather clutch bag with matching purse. In total, I spent less than thirty pounds. This is a photo of just a small collection of handcrafted items we saw. I wish I’d had the money to kit out a mansion with it.

Inside the Berbere Souk

Inside the Berbere Souk

Day Twenty

A more relaxed day today. We spent our time sunning ourselves by the heated outdoor pool and generally eating every five minutes. This is just some of the wonderful food on offer. I certainly tried some dishes I’d never had before.

Just a fraction of the delicious (yet, at times, questionable) food on offer in the hotel restaurant.

Just a fraction of the delicious (yet, at times, questionable) food on offer in the hotel restaurant.

Day Twenty One

Ah, alas, my holiday is over. Just a few days without the boys is more than enough though and I was glad to be on my way home.

Au Revoir, Maroc

Au Revoir, Maroc

Day Twenty Two

Now after being away from my babies for a few days, wouldn’t you imagine my first photo to be of the boys? Well apparently not. The first (and only, actually) photo I have from Wednesday 22nd is of my dog Betsy. I had just collected her from the dog sitter and she was rather snow-speckled.

Snow-speckled Dog

Snow-speckled Dog

Day Twenty Three

My penultimate photo of this post is of my grown up boy. Here, he’s chatting on Facebook messenger. He was under strict supervision of course!

boy on iPad

boy on iPad

Day Twenty Four

Finally (gosh, this has taken SO long!) here is a photo from today. I could’ve chosen one of my sister in a very hungover existence, but instead I give you this – a photo of an ornament in her kitchen and something that’s almost always true.

In case you were wondering, the little note underneath reads ‘and a new hob’ because last night, in her inebriated state, my sister smashed her brand new (21 days old) electric cooker hob. Worra numpty. I left the note. I’m nice like that ;)

All you need is love

All you need is love

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

My Adventure in Africa

I’m actually too tired to even start to write about my adventures this last week, so for now, here are some photos of what I did on my recent trip to Agadir in Morocco. I’ve never been to Africa before so I was quite excited! I will give you the full low down later in the week, but for now, here’s a photo of a camel and some other stuff.

camel

Riding a camel.

 

Souk

Inside the Souk

 

Kasbah

At the Kasbah, overlooking Agadir

 

hill

Hillside in Agadir which reads God, King, Country

 

mosque

Agadir Mosque

 

 

 

Blogging: Getting Started.

When I started blogging four years ago, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Some may say I still have no idea!

I have, however, learned some valuable lessons about setting up a blog and making it work.

My top tips would have to start with advising would-be bloggers to decide on a niche. Are you a parent blogger? Beauty blogger? Fashion blogger? With grumpyishmum I am primarily a parent blogger, though I do blog about other things too. Even within the parent blogger category, I would like to narrow down my specific focus area. There are bloggers, like Rain or Shine Mama, that are excellent within their niche. Find what you love and write about it.

Secondly, I would recommend that you have a decent camera. DSLR seem to be very popular, but for a beginner blogger they really aren’t necessary. Do your research on affordable, good quality point and shoot or superzoom cameras and you can’t go wrong! Take advice from great photography bloggers too, they don’t get brilliant for no reason! I love joining in with The Boy and Me‘s photo a day linky; I’m always picking up new ideas.

Something else I think is super important is to read other blogs. I’m guilty of not reading enough blogs, so I could do with more hours in the day (who couldn’t!) but reading other blogs will bring you both inspiration and motivation. You can also join in with linkys – these are a great way of finding new blogs and also help to get your blog ‘out there’ too.

Are you an established blogger? I’d be interested to know what your advice would be to a new blogger. I see so many bloggers these days starting blogs and expecting to be sent review products immediately. It really makes me sad that some of them have almost a sense of entitlement as soon as they start. Reviews and paid work will come your way if you build up your blog, little by little, and show prospective brands that you can write well and deliver good quality posts.

This post was written in conjunction with Panasonic, but I actually would recommend doing/thinking about all of this stuff if you’re a new blogger!

Post published in line with Grumpyishmum’s disclosure policy

Simple Home Upgrades That Will Make a Huge Difference

IMG_7140.JPG
Your home isn’t in need of a full renovation, but you know it needs more than a spring clean. Do you knock out a wall, build an extension or paint through the house with a new colour? Upgrading your home needn’t be that dramatic; there are a number of upgrades you can organise for your home with relative ease. Consider these simple home upgrades that will make a difference to your home.

Replace the Windows

When people think home upgrades, the first thing that comes to mind generally isn’t getting new windows, but maybe it should be. Think about your current windows – could a five year old pick them open? Does your flyscreen let in more bugs than it keeps out? You’ll be amazed at the difference, both visually and practically, a new window makes to your home. If you think swapping your old windows for new ones could be the upgrade your home is looking for, contact a window exchange expert, such as Stylewise Security, to see what modern and stylish window options are available to you. And don’t worry – companies like this will perform the exchange and take care of the old windows for you.

Put the TV on the Wall

It’s one of those jobs that everyone thinks of doing but never gets around to. Flat-screen TVs look fantastic on the wall. You can reclaim bench-space on the entertainment cabinet, set it at the right height for your eyes, and no longer have kids touching it, leaving fingerprints all over your screen! It’s worth popping to the hardware or electrical appliance centre to pick up a wall mount this weekend.

Consider a Feature Wall

A feature wall can make an otherwise monotone space much more liveable. It can add depth perception, brighten a dark room, or just make things feel so much fresher. Have a flip through some home decorating magazines to see what colours you like. Feature walls can be done quickly and easily; it’s a weekend project that can really add some ‘zing’ to your place.

New Artwork

Still have the huge wooden spoon and fork on your wall? Or the three ducks? A macramé pot-plant holder? Yes, trends date and so do artwork and decorations. Art can enrich a home or restrain it. You might want to consider an original piece from a gallery or a print of something you love. Unique artworks attract the eye and can be a great conversation point when guests come around.

Replace Handles

Consider replacing all the handles in your kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms. Have a look at your current ones. Are they small or hard to grip? Mismatched? Loose or even missing? You’ll be amazed at the practicality and function new handles bring to a room. Consider swapping tarnished silver with sleep chrome, or heavy blacks with chic brushed metal. Check out the range at your local hardware store – it costs nothing to see what’s available!

Have you recently done any home renovations? How did you find it? Do you have any tips for a new renovator? Share your ideas or tips in the comments below – I’d love to read your home improvement wins and fails!

 

Post published in line with Grumpyishmum’s disclosure policy

Is the snow really on its way?

I’ve been waiting all winter for the snow to arrive. We didn’t get any last year, much to my disappointment, so I’ve got really high hopes for this month! Every few days I check the weather forecast and so far I haven’t seen those little snowflakes falling from a cloud.

Until now.

Weather forecast

Weather forecast

It’s only for a day but that might be enough! All we need to do is build a snowman, throw some snowballs and make a snow angel … and then for all I care it can melt! I’m not sure the boys will see it that way – I imagine they’ll be hoping for a snow day off school.

The boys have developed a great love of all things snow-related since we started visiting Chill Factore in Manchester. I’ve reviewed it a couple of times on the blog and we’ve been several times in addition to those visits too – everyone always has a great time.

The only problem I had when Rowan was a bit younger was that he kept trying to eat the snow! They do cater for small people but you have to watch them for that. I bet he wasn’t the only one taking home snow filled pockets, either!

I think what I’d really like to do is to try ‘proper’ skiing. I can imagine it now … brilliant white snow slopes under the winter sun, while I skillfully slalom round the course (or whatever it’s called!) before a graceful finish. I’ll be wearing all the best skiing gear and everyone will marvel at just how talented I am. ‘Look at her’, they’ll say, ‘Isn’t she a wonderful skier – and she’s never even tried it before’.

Yeah, who am I kidding. I’d look like a human version of Bambi on Ice! The spectators wouldn’t be ooh-ing and ahh-ing but wincing and reaching for the phone to call an ambulance!

 

 

Three online games for grown ups

I spend an enormous amount of time online and I must appear to be on Facebook for the majority of it, but today I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

I play games.

Not those irritating Facebook ones where you can’t progress properly without pestering the pants off all of your Facebook contacts. Since I’m mostly on my phone or iPad, some of these are apps and some are websites – but all of them are fun! Here are three of my favourite online game sites.

1. The Sims

I’ve loved The Sims since I first discovered the game. I’m a bit rubbish at keeping them alive but I do like to have a naughty Sim who goes round upsetting everyone! I think that’s because I spend my entire life trying not to upset anyone!

2. Online Casino

I’m not a big gambler but when I head over to http://www.mobilecasino.mobi I do love that fluttery feeling I get when I’m waiting to find out if I’ve won! I’m very, very sensible with my money though and would never gamble big bucks. I’m not sure I’ll be a professional gambler any time soon!

3. Mini Soccer

Now, I originally found this for Louis to play but I’ve found myself logging onto miniclip.com more and more! I’m completely rubbish at it and I’m a bit sick of being the character in the gangster hat but I prefer just to stay as a guest so it’ll have to be my ‘football kit’ when I’m playing!

I'm the one in the gangster hat. Losing.

I’m the one in the gangster hat. Losing.

These games provide a welcome distraction when I’ve got a mental block or I’m waiting for a ridiculously large file to upload. I can play and go, and return whenever I please.

Sometimes I do need to get away from the screen altogether, so I’ll walk the dog around the park behind the house or I’ll perhaps just make a quick brew if it’s raining – neither I nor the dog like the rain!

Do you work online? What distractions do you have?

Meal Planning Monday 12.01.15

Here we are again for another week of meal planning.

This weeks post is very quick because it’s late!

Friday: Ham, egg and chips. I haven’t had this for years so I’m taking a trip down memory lane.

Saturday: Chicken Biryani. We have curry regularly but this one is a little bit different as it’s a one pot dish.

Sunday: Cottage Pie. Always a hit in our house, cottage pie on Sunday means deviating from our usual roast dinner but since Manchester United are playing at home it’ll just be me and Rowan here in the afternoon.

Monday: Bangers & Mash. We love sausages, so they’re featuring again this week with mash potato and Yorkshire pudding.

Tuesday: Chinese takeaway. Tuesday is my birthday so no cooking for me today!

Wednesday: Braised steak, mash and veg. When I was planning the ham egg and chips, my mind wandered back to the meals my grandma used to make for us. This was one of my favourites. She would cook the braising steak on low with onions and gravy and the meat would just melt in your mouth. I hope mine is as good.

Thursday: Tuna Pasta Bake. Another firm favourite and one requested by my youngest this week.

I’m linking up to Mrs. M’s Meal Planning Monday linky and if you’re looking for food-based inspiration you can click on the badge below to take you over there.

You’ll find lots of other bloggers planning their meals for the week and it’ll leave you with your mouth watering.

Meal Planning Monday

Project 365: Week Two

Well so far, so good. I’ve made it to week two of Project 365. Just 50 to go …

A walk in the park

A walk in the park

Day Four

A winter walk in Clifton Country Park gave us a wonderful start to Sunday and set the relaxed mood for the whole day.

Back to school means back to Biff and Chip

Back to school means back to Biff and Chip

Day Five

Back to school means back to school reading books. Biff and Chip aren’t our favourite books but we endure them because, well, we have to. Just once through each book and we can move on to a book of choice.

I can actually see the window sill!

I can actually see the window sill!

Day Six

Rather boringly, this is the result of my afternoon. I’m quite pleased though because ordinarily this area is covered in cook books and washed dishes, so go me for sorting it out! It’s all part of the big decluttering thing I’m doing over on That Lancashire Lass this year.

Pizza Face!

Pizza Face!

Day Seven

On Wednesday the boys made pizza after school. I don’t usually let them have quick meals because I like to cook from scratch but they LOVE pizza.

It's a whopper!

It’s a whopper!

Day Eight

Have you ever seen a Ferrero Rocher this size? I can’t even tell you how excited I was was my husband brought this home! I was so excited I even made a video about it …

Looks like a very serious conversation

Looks like a very serious conversation

Day Nine

Rowan had his friend Ava round for tea. Ava is pretty shy when I’m around but once I left the room I could hear her chatting away and laughing with Rowan. I snuck into the kitchen and took this. Rowan looks very serious doesn’t he? Rightly so, because Ava had just told him that she watches Frozen on the TV but Rowan insisted that it’s on DVD only. I think they may have their wires crossed.

Mr. Cool

Mr. Cool

Day Ten

My final photo from this week is Rowan, in his beloved Olaf shirt, posing by his kitchen. ‘Put this on your internet Mummy!’, he requested. So here he is.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Clifton Country Park

Last weekend we braved the chilly winter weather to take the children and the dog to Clifton Country Park in Salford. We’ve only ever been once before to this park so we weren’t au fait with the layout of the park at all. We decided to follow the marked footpath partly because we didn’t know where we were going and partly because anything off the footpath (and much of the actual footpath) was covered in icky mud.

IMG_6817.JPG

A muddy walk through Clifton Country Park

Off we went, the dog zooming off ahead, the children getting more splattered in mud with every squishy step. It wasn’t too cold and the sun peeped out just the tiniest but from behind the clouds. Lovely walking weather really.

After about a mile we spotted a familiar place. Giants Seat Garden Centre is a lovely little place that we’ve been to several times and when the children spotted it they were surprised at how far we’d walked. It’s a lot easier to walk a fair distance when you’re having fun! There is a wood at Giants Seat too, so we’ll may well do a nature walk there very soon.

2015-01-04 12.15.59

Giants Seat Garden Centre

We walked on a path running adjacent to the train line and the boys were thrilled to see the trains whooshing past at such high speeds. We lost count of the carriages each one had and ultimately decided that there were ‘a lot’. Unfortunately we didn’t manage a photo of the trains because they appeared without enough notice!

On we walked, eventually stumbling (not literally, thankfully) on to part of the River Irwell Sculpture Trail. We only saw the one piece because we turned off down another path so I’m pretty sure we’ll be back to find the other sculptures soon.

2015-01-04 12.37.34

One of the sculptures on the River Irwell Sculpture Trail

The view from the sculpture

The view from the sculpture

 

Louis got a camera for Christmas and loved putting it to good use. I’m going to ask him if he’d like to blog about his own photos from this walk. He has a blog, but we really need to knuckle down with it if he’s going to build it up. I think this may be the way to go with his website actually because he has such a passion for all things outdoors.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Point & Shoot: Clifton Country Park

Over the weekend we walked in Clifton Country Park in Salford, Manchester.

It was wet and muddy but the sun peeped out at us more than once and everyone enjoyed the walk, especially the dog. I took this photo as I saw my seven year old down at the water with his trusty sidekick.

I love the cold, wintry look of the tree to the right of this photo and Louis’ long, stretched shadow on the water as he stands there contemplating his little life. They stood for a long time, Louis and Betsy, until he turned to set off back to us and she duly followed. They’re so sweet together.

A boy and his dog by the water, Clifton Country Park

snowingindoors