Mamatography: Week 29 – Warm And Beautiful Days

We’re making the most of summer, as far as we can. We know it won’t be around for too long, so now’s the time, really! Also, this is my 1000’s post on Diary of a First Child. Somehow, that feels like a milestone! Yay me 🙂

198 – Hot hot hot

It’s so warm at the moment, and I am loving it. We’re taking full advantage of the water play table while the going is good. This particular day we filled the watertable with water beads. Have a look at our top suggestions for ways to use water beads. And why not follow us on Facebook, so you can see what we’re up to!

199  – Sprinklers

We don’t have a water tap in our back yard, so I put the hose through the kitchen window into the communal garden. The older folks around our square all came out to say how much fun it looked. They were all very sweet.

200 –  An I Need A Drink Day

I don’t drink much at all these days. Maybe once a month, usually at events, but at the end of this particular day, I needed to add a shot of chocolate liqueur into my iced coffee. Everyone has days like that, right?

201 – Polka Dot Party

Another birthday party for us, and the theme was ‘polka dots’. The girls met the theme, all right!

202 – Fresh

We were busy making dinner when I decided to add some fresh herbs. We went to the garden to pick some. I love that Ameli knows and loves herbs. Not bad for a 3 year old.

203 – Make Up

Oh dear. Someone found my make up bag and got into it. When I asked if I could clean her up she said, “but I like my face just the way it is!”

I do too, baby. I do too.

204 – Hobbledown Farm

What an awesome day out. If you live anywhere near Epsom in Surrey, or are passing that way anytime soon, you must go. Read the full post on Hobbledown Farm. 

mtbadge2This post is part of the Mamatography 2013 Project with Diary of a First Child and Momma Jorje.

We are taking (at least) a photo a day to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!

Britmums Live 2013 – A Belated Musing

It’s been a few weeks now, since the Britmums conference, which Hillary’s Blinds kindly sponsored me to attend.

I arrived in London on Friday, brewing a major headache and feeling positively hung over for reasons totally beyond my understanding, so I checked in to my hotel, the gorgeous Montecalm, right on the steps of the conference. I had a shower and lay on the bed for a while, before heading into the conference.

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Worth it, just for the night at the Montcalm

Still feeling a little fragile – I didn’t have anything to drink the night before, just felt like it! – I had a wander around the sponsors lounge, to see if there was anything I was particularly interested in, or any brands I was specifically interested in working with. One that immediately caught my eye was Parragon Books, who were starting up a ‘book club’, so you’ll be seeing more on that soon, and Butlins, but every time I went over to them to sign up for their Ambassador program, they’d run out of application forms, so I guess that wasn’t meant to be, this year.

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Excited to be part of the Parragon Book Buddies

While I really enjoy the Britmums conferences, and have made an effort to go every year, I rarely walk away from the sessions feeling like I’ve learned much – I’ve been blogging for more than 6 years, and journalling online for about 4 more, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing, most of the time, but every now and then you pick up a tip, or a speaker says something that helps you refocus where you’re going or what you want from your blog, and for that it’s well worth attending.

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Travel Blogging with Jaume Marin

Another thing I enjoy about Britmums is seeing some of the same faces year in and year out. I think the first conference I went to with 8 month old, just walking Ameli, had about 80 or so attendees? This year there were many, many more and each year it grows and grows. It’s pretty amazing, actually. Seeing people I’ve met on this journey is always nice and seeing others go from strength to strength is great too. It was, as always, lovely to see Uju from Babes About Town (best blog to read if you’re a mum in London), Amanda from The Family Patch (Amanda’s writing a book on Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Hats off to her!) and Chelle from Social Sparkle (who you definitely want to look up if you’re a small business owner!). I saw loads of people but spent most of my time with these three.

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Uju from Babes About Town

On Friday evening I was still struggling with feeling unwell, so I went to a local restaurant and had a lovely plate of food, on my own, without sharing food off my plate, or helping anyone else eat, or cutting anyone’s food for them or any of the other things that normally summarise dinner time. It was just me, peacefully eating, before returning to the hotel and lying in bed on my own, undisturbed. It was pretty heavenly.

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Dinner alone, and a browse through the Parragon books

The following morning I was up bright and early, and after a leisurely phone call to my babies, I returned to Britmums Live, feeling much better and more than ready for a day of engaging, networking, and being part of the UK blogging community.

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Hello Hedwig!

My favourite session for the day was the Food Blogging session, partly because as a new food blogger – check out Keeper of the Kitchen, if you’re interested in healthier foods! – I think I have a lot to learn still and was hoping to come away with inspiration and motivation. I can say I did, and have started implementing a lot of it in the way I post there.

As always, Britmums 2013 was moving, inspirational, exciting, and fun. I go in with the expectation of those things, and have never come away disappointed. I do realise that while I’m in the UK and on the UK parent blogger charts, I don’t really socialise with UK parent bloggers much beyond events, and I’m really not sure where I should try to fit the network into my days, but one thing I know for sure is that I need to spend a bit more time with the Britmums network, because there are amazing mothers, women and bloggers in it, and our yearly get together is a great way to spend a weekend.

*Now I just need to find a sponsor for the Food conference in November. Let me know if you know anyone who’d like to sponsor me!

If you’re after a new look for your house, check out Hillary’s Carpets and Hillary’s Curtains!

5 Step Plan For Decluttering

I feel like a broken record. Seriously. I seem to spend my life decluttering, but somehow never get to the point of no longer having clutter around me! I sometimes look around our house and just feel like giving up.

It’s only when I open the cupboards – the few that we have – and when things aren’t falling down on me anymore, is when I realise that we have already gone a long way to simplifying our lives. I’d probably say we’re about half  way. But it’s here where momentum is lost or gained.  So to refocus my mind, I’m sharing my five step plan with you:

1) Recycle

books and clothes waiting to be re-homed

I uhmed and ahed a bit as to whether Recycle or Bin should be first on my list, but in the end I decided recycle first. This is pretty simple. Take the purple recycling bag the council gives us – or however you recycle – and fill it with everything recyclable. For me this is normally piles of junk mail and supermarket magazines I always pick up thinking this time I’ll have a chance to read it. I never do.

I have vivid memories of my mother walking through the house just binning stuff. It used to drive me crazy, but now I totally understand.

2) Bin

If it can’t be recycled, and it can’t be reused, bin it and move on with your life. This includes stuff like dead leaves on plants – they really bring a room down. After a decent recycling bag session, I normally don’t find my bin bag very full.

3) Repurpose

An old extendible shower rail is now a hanging rail for Ameli’s fancy dresses. An old telephone cupboard is now a contained bookshelf for my home education books. If it can’t be reused, recycle it, or get rid of it.

4) Sell

We had a car boot sale recently for all the things we didn’t really know what to do with. Oddly, toiletries sold better than anything else.

You can use eBay or local Facebook selling groups, but it all takes time. Alternatively you can use one of the all purpose sites to sell your stuff for cash. It’s not much, but it’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s done without the hassle and most of them you can now sell clothes, music, movies and anything else that’s time consuming on other places. There’s also no cash outlay, like at a carboot sale, and you’ll probably fetch similar prices.

5) Give

When all else fails and no one wants to buy your goods, give it away. Charities can always use it, and may have more of a market for it. I struggle to give stuff away, because I know what it cost me, but the clarity and release that comes from the breathing room is worth more than the pennies you were going to get for it anyway.

What other advice can you give me to help me declutter my home?

Gardening: First Harvest

The sudden and long awaited turn in the weather this last week has finally meant I’ve been able to move all the large vegetable pots off the table in the conservatory and out into the garden.

This has had a down side as now we’re back to fighting snails again, as well as the ever hungry slugs and aphids we were already dealing with. Turns out an adult snail can demolish two courgette plants in one night. Oh joy.

On the up side, the last remaining courgette, the one I bought ready to be repotted, is growing at a beautiful rate and I can see some flowers headed this way. It’s first flower was beautiful but the courgette itself was tiny, no bigger than my baby finger. It pretty much rotted while I was waiting for it to grow.

The fated aubergine, or egg plant, has also been victim of the snails, and its leaves are looking paltry – but there are some buds showing too, so hopefully, hopefully.

The tomatoes we got from Heinz are finally doing really well. They seem to have grown every time I look. No flowers yet, and no tomatoes but again, I’m hopeful!
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I harvested all the Kale this week, and made an incredible salad that I really loved. I’ll post the recipe on Keeper of the Kitchen this week.

It seemed to like being harvested though because new leaves are popping up all over the place, which is great.

I also had the first potato harvest this week. By the time I got to planting the potatoes, they had long roots already and I didn’t have much hope for them, or much soil, so I dumped them all on one bag and let them get on with it.

I thought I’d have a rummage for some new potatoes a few days ago and proceeded to break most of the foliage. Who knew potatoes were so fragile?

I did manage to find some new potatoes though – my first ever potato harvest, so they accompanied dinner tonight. Yum.

We’ll see what happens to the potatoes from here on out though. I did find as many exploding rotten ones as ready to eat ones though, and I’m curious about that. Why has that happened? Is that to do with the slugs? Have I left them too log? I do wish I was doing this with someone who knew what they were doing.

The apps on my phone are pretty useless. They’re telling me I should be reaping like mad right now! Which, clearly, I’m not.20130707-222135.jpg

I’m glad we’re doing this in the pots though, rather than straight in the ground. It’s made meeting the needs of my seedlings so much easier. It’s like attachment gardening.

Only you eat your babies if you’ve done it right.

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