Sunday, 14 September 2014

Playing with Friends

My eldest was very lucky to start school with one of her best friends from pre school.  Her pre school was not attached to her school, so it was nice that there was someone there she knows.  What is also great is her friend lives around the corner.  

We had a nice walk over there this morning and the girls spent the day playing.  As it was not raining this gave us a great opportunity to have a Friends and Family outdoor fun day.  The girls practised their skills with the egg and spoon race

Followed by lots of giggles with a three legged race.  We had Mummies Vs Girls, Family Vs Family and Sisters Vs Friends.  It was a lot of fun and lots of giggles.

Our final game was throwing bean bags as far as we can and of course some running!

After all that playing it was time to head over to the park and play on the swings.

A great way to end a great day playing with friends.

This day I love playing with friends.

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Review : Picstick

If you are anything like me you will have taken hundreds of pictures of your children. You may also be like me that they sit either on the phone or computer and then rarely do anything with them. I occasionally make photo books and may print the odd one or two, but then I run out of space to do anything with them.

Picstick is a great idea. It allows you to select images and turn them into magnets. The site was easy to use, I quickly selected my photos and was able to rotate them into the 9 squared grid. This grid forms your 9 magnets. As it is uncomplicated and quick to create it makes you want to go back and use again. It doesn't take up too much time either so great to do on an evening.

What impressed me is the speed of delivery. Picstick arrives through the post in an envelope not a parcel, meaning it comes through the letter box so you don't need to go and collect if you are out. It arrived within a few days and I opened the envelope keen to see my creation.

The 9 magnets come on one sheet that you can easily separate them apart to create your 9 magnets. The magnets can then be stuck on any magnetic surface. I created some for the girls to put in their bedrooms and some for the fridge.

You could easily create themes for the magnets to suit different members of your household. The only real limitation is the image. I can also see this to be a great idea to upload a company logo and create 9 magnets which you could then potentially hand out to customers. A great alternative to business cards. Picstick would also make a great gift. With Christmas approaching Picstick would be a great personalised gift.

Overall I am really pleased with the quality and speed of service Picstick offered. A really lovely product and a great idea.

If you would like to create your own Picstick enter MUMMYS25  at the checkout for 25% off.  Remember shipping is FREE worldwide!

We were sent Picstick for review, all opinions are my own.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Getting off auto

I love my camera, you may remember I wrote a post and gave reasons why you should own one.  I still stand by it as I love it and I love that it has intelligent auto.  I would however love to use it better and understand what is happening.  Whilst I do play around with the different features, I want to understand more of why that happens and how I can recreate something again.

This weekend I attended a photography course held at  Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Sheffield and run by professional photographer Pandora Maund who runs Going Digital Yorkshire.  You can read more about the day here and pick up some photography tips.  I was keen to learn more about my camera and what it could do.

I arrived a little late after misreading the start time as 11.30 and not 11, that will teach me to double check things, but crept into the back of the room and sat on the Panasonic table.  As I glanced around at all the others in the room I began to feel that my little TZ55 was out of place against all these huge professional looking cameras.  I soon forgot all about this when we got stuck into the practical workshop.  I came to the conclusion that I need to learn how to use the TZ55 first before splashing out on a camera with inter changeable lens, just to stick that on Auto too.  I was re assured by one of the team that my camera was more than adequate and I began to get stuck in.

I learnt about ISO, shutter speeds, aperture and white balance.  I had no idea my camera was capable of so much.  I filled in my cheat sheet, which now accompanies me where I go, and then we headed outside to put into practise what we had learnt.

First it was Portrait shots.  

My lovely friend Serena from Bewildered Bug was my model and she unfortunately got stuck taking pictures of me.  I tried both zoom and only a little zoom.  The idea was to keep Serena in focus but the background blur.

I then moved onto finding 3 subjects in a row and altering the focal point to change the emphasis on the image.  This was something I was struggling with as although I understood the technique, I could not really see much difference on the image itself.  I can tell slight changes on the images on my computer.  I guess I have learnt that I need to adjust to a focus slightly further away than picking objects too close together.  

Our final challenge was to take a Large depth of field photo.  This is to keep everything in focus in the photo.  I had a wander around the football stadium and noticed everyone taking similar photos of the ground, but this wasn't really helping my creative side.  I did find a part of the stadium which framed the ground but I wanted something different.  I went for a bit of a walk.

Just behind one of the stands is a beautiful view of the city, which I really wanted to take a photo of.  Given more time I would have concentrated on this.  However I also really liked the street below.  I aimed to get the bottom corner of the road in the bottom corner of the picture.  I wish I had taken another with the houses starting in the bottom corner.

I had a lovely day and was keen to practise my skills when I got home.  So much so the poor dog was made to pose.

The first one I took came out a little blurry, so I adjusted the ISO until I could get him less blurry.

I played around with several ISO until I was happy with the image.  I then tried to take a close up profile photo to get the background blurred.  

I liked the image but thought it was a bit dark, so re took after altering the exposure.

Whilst I can appreciated that the higher ISO has made the image a little grainy, I like the way that it makes this photo look.  I think it adds something to the character of J.

I am feeling more armed in my photo taking and keen to keep practising.  Hopefully you might see some improvement in my images.  This is a skill I have been wanting to improve on for some time and it is one I will keep practising.

I would love to know what you think of the photos and if you have any tips!

This day I love getting off auto

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Going hot to get Frozen

My eldest daughter loves Frozen.  I think she is no different to most children up and down the country with her love for Frozen.  As I mentioned in her 4th Birthday party post she wanted a Frozen Party.  I thought it would be quite nice if we could make a few items for her birthday that had a Frozen theme but also could be used again later.

I decided to first turn to my trusty glue gun and see what I could create.  The glue gun I have is light weight and easy to use and because it has a stand built in, it means I can simply put it down [although not on its side] when I do not need it.  Glue guns are a great craft tool and I have even created a Pinterest board of ideas to provide some inspiration.

I have discovered that if you place glue from the glue gun onto Baking paper, when the glue has dried you can peel it off to create a flexible shape.  I still had a tiny bit of clear glue left, but added a coloured glue stick in next.  I began to write the word 'Frozen' onto my baking paper and was rather pleased with the result.

My next task was to make some snowflakes.  Following the same idea I drew a simple snowflake shape on to the baking paper with the glue gun

Whilst it was still wet I sprinkled with glitter

Then once it had dried I shook away the glitter before peeling off the snowflake.

I could have used a glitter glue stick, which would have created the glitter glue, but I already had clear in the glue gun so decided to do it this way.

What is great is these shapes can be played with by the girls to create their own Frozen scenes, or even used as Christmas decorations.

I then thought it would be a great idea to make some snow globes.  My eldest dressed as Rapunzel helped.

To make snow globes you need:

- Figure for the inside or stickers for the outside
- water
-glue gun
- jar

We have a few spare Kinder egg /Cake topper Princess figures and my eldest picked one of these to be her figure inside the snow globe.  [There are several available on eBay].  We glued the figure to the inside of our jar lid using our glue gun and left to dry.

Whilst she was drying we put water into the jar and stirred in a teaspoon of Glycerin.  The glycerin allows the glitter to swirl in the water and float down slowly, the more you add the slower the swirl.  Without it the glitter tends to clump and not swirl as well.  We then add a generous amount of glitter before screwing the lid back on the jar.  

With Belle securely inside I placed glue from the glue gun around the jar lid to seal the jar and also added some decoration.

My eldest also wanted a Frozen snow globe.  So we attempted to make a snowman from Sugru [we used Sugru as it can with stand water and varying temperatures].

We followed the same process as before, and my daughter loved stirring the glitter and glycerin into the snow globe.

Overall I think she was pretty pleased with what we created

I really love how we could create some unique Frozen themed things for her party using a glue gun and a few other items.  I have already come up with some ideas for Halloween decorations using the glue gun and hopefully will blog about those too.

If you don't have a glue gun, but like doing crafts then I would recommend getting one.

I was provided with a glue gun and glue for the purpose of review.  All words and opinions are my own.

Sofia the first

I am very excited for next Thursday.  I have been selected to be a Sofia the First twitter party host!  I hope you will join me, the party is 4-6pm.  There will be competitions and prizes to be won and of course lots of fun and joins.  Join in the fun using #sofiasmicroworld.

The girls are huge Disney Princess fans, and of course this includes Sofia the 1st.  To get them in the mood for the party next week they have been trying out two new Sofia the 1st playsets.  The tiara and the Amulet.

Both the tiara and the Amulet can be worn like jewellery and match that of the ones Sofia wears.  What makes them extra special is they open up to reveal a micro play set, which my girls have had fun using their imagination with and creating stories with Sofia.  I think they would make excellent gifts and would be loved by all Sofia fans.

The girls do tend to be a little heavy handed with them, but they are easy to clip back in place, so it is not a huge problem but it is worth mentioning.  Also as the pieces are quite small I would be careful around young children, but my two year old has no problems.

I cannot wait until next Thursday when the girls and their friends get to play with some of the other Sofia the First play sets.  There will be lots of fun and games too and I would love for you to join us.  Look forward to seeing you Thursday 18th 4-6pm on Twitter for lots of fun and games.

We are Sofia the First Twitter party hosts and have been sent a selection of Sofia the First items to review.

Review : Squidge

Fans of Cbeebies are already familiar with Squidge.  Squidge is their companion on bed time hour and a lovable figure to all who watch him.  This familiarity can be continued at home with a lovable soft and cuddly figure for all children to enjoy.

Squidge plays the famous bedtime hour song, and even has colourful lights.  He is soft and cuddly and has become a favourite of my girls.

Squidge has come everywhere with us so far, to Grandma and Grandads house when they go to sleep and he has even travelled with us to Scotland.  I like that the battery compartment seems to be well padded so you don't really feel it when you give Squidge a cuddle.  He certainly provides comfort to both girls at bedtime.

Enter the world of CBeebies fun with Sweet Dreams with Squidge.  He’s getting tired and needs his sleep!  Squeeze him and listen as he plays the CBeebies bedtime song and watch as he glows softly in different colours, to gently soothe your little one to sleep.  Squeeze him for a second time and the music will stop and go back to the start when pressed again.  Soft and cuddly Squidge is sure to be a favourite with your little ones at bedtime!

For your chance to win 1 of 3 simply watch the video and answer the question

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How many lights flash red on Squidge?

To answer head over to Facebook and leave your answer on the giveaway tab on my page.  Winner will be drawn at random from all correct entries.   Full Terms and Conditions are available on Facebook giveaway tab, this giveaway is in no way affiliated, linked or run in conjunction with Facebook. 

We were sent a Squidge for the purpose of review.  All words and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

School Safety : Part 1

With school officially started I wanted to take a moment to look at the journey to and from school.  I am lucky enough to be able to walk my daughter to school, it is less than a 10 minute walk.  Whilst it is close there is still a main road to cross and with two daughters to watch safety is very important.

The footpaths near us are very narrow, meaning at some points they are only just wide enough for the pushchair.  I would then have to get my eldest daughter to let go of my hand, in order to continue walking.  This is not something I like to do and as she cannot hold the pushchair, as there is simply not enough space on the pavement, I can be left worrying about her safety even for the split second.

using the Lifft Sling

An alternative to this is a sling or a baby carrier.  The advantage of this is that I have two hands free so one can always hold my eldest and my youngest is kept safe as she is in the sling.  With my youngest 2 years old and very active and curious, she doesn't really like to be strapped in the pushchair let alone a carrier.  Most carriers force the child to face inwards, so they cannot really see much.  Often it is also difficult to adjust the carrier for a child of 2 years who weighs 13Kg and is on the top end of the growth percentiles.

Over 4 years ago I purchased a Lifft sling and have used it for both my daughters.  I was able to breastfeed both my daughters in the Lifft sling too, which was a great bonus.  I find the lifft sling really easy to adjust because it is one piece of material.  There are no straps to tighten or adjust and nothing to tie.  There are also many different positions the Lifft sling can take in order to cater for different age groups.

Lifft slings are now available in a variety of colours.  I feel very lucky to be able to have a Lifft sling to giveaway.  As these are available in different sizes the winner will need to pick the colour they would like from the sizes available, as not all colours maybe available in stock in the given size.

Entry is via Rafflecopter below and closes at Midnight GMT on 26 September 2014 .  Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 or over, for full terms and conditions see the link on the Rafflecopter widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway