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Saturday, 31 May 2014

StressFreePrint; Business cards review

Recently I was offered the chance to try out the service from StressFreePrint, and as my stash of business cards was running out, I thought it'd be worth giving them a go. Especially as I have a big blogging conference to go to next month (Britmums Live)!

The whole process was so simple. I took a quick look at the website, and decided which product would suit me best. There's everything from business stationery to calendars and leaflets/flyers.

The website is very user friendly and easy to figure out. I plumped for the business cards (like these you can see here) and then uploaded an image. A proof was sent to me almost immediately, and when I had a couple of minor amendments I wanted to make, it was all sorted out promptly with a couple of email responses. 

The proof is included in the price and delivery is free and super quick - within three business days of the proof being agreed (I think I actually received mine in two days). Here's my finished result; look out for them flying around soon!



I'd definitely recommend this service; super fast and easy, with great quality cards and printing. What more can you ask for?!


Disclosure: I was sent the above product for the purpose of this review, but have not received payment. All the views expressed here are my own.
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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Alphabet photo project, week 2. #alphabetphoto

There's a new photo linky on the go, over at the lovely PODcast blog. It's an alphabet theme and sadly I was so busy that I missed week one... so here we are, onto 'B' already.

Couldn't resist coming in with this one at the last minute - my B for this week was taken today, and is...

Beach!

My home town of sunny St.Annes, and this is my two girls having an impromptu building session on the beach today. A day when the weathermen said it would rain. They were so wrong. Although a teeny bit more sun wouldn't have gone amiss. We didn't get sunburnt though.



Anyhow we were treated to a beach assault course by Tamsin, and we helped Sasha with her old favourite, turning herself into a mermaid.

Tamsin was then a little peckish so helped herself to a 99...



Having a fab half-term here folks!
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Saturday, 24 May 2014

Center Parcs' May Blogger Challenge - Getting Snappy Happy Outdoors!

Center Parcs has teamed up with Tots 100 to challenge Bloggers to be 'snappy happy' in the Great Outdoors this month. We've had to leave it to the last minute to join in this one, as we've been rather busy this month (you can read about that in my last post here).

So you can imagine my delight at having to drag encourage the girls outside on a day which looked like we could have a free outdoors bath every 10 minutes. How I wish I'd tried this earlier in the month when it has been summer-like in this county! To be totally honest, we have one girls who loves being outdoors as much as possible (as long as it's not raining) and one who would quite happily be a couch potato homebird for ever, so we just tend to run with whatever we think of if we can on the spur of the moment.

We had a few tips on the Center Parcs Blog from photographer Rich Heath, and the one which inspired us was 'Take some springtime selfies of you and your family enjoying yourselves on a walk in your local park'
We're really lucky to live right by a very well maintained park/green area, and I've been taking the girls out there for walks ever since they were born. Of course it was much easier when they were in their prams and couldn't answer back... but still, we persevere every once in a while when we can distract them from Minecraft... 

Today was a perfect day (ahem). Well we did manage to take lots of photos, and have lots of fun, before the heavens opened and they ran for home. On the way out to the park, Tamsin took her version of 'nature' photos - a big tree and a daisy. Sasha stopped to pick a couple of daisies en-route, and asked if they re-plant themselves if you pull the petals off and throw into the air. Any ideas on that anyone?!
 
We visited the maze first; a fantastic place for toddlers, planted with lots of small bushes so nobody can get too lost in there. Sasha has always loved it - as long as we enter behind her and go the exact way she tells us to. Today she split her imaginary ponies (My Little Pony, new obsession!) up into two teams and they were neck and neck all the way to the finish. I took this rather spooky photo in the maze which is still freaking me out a little - can you see why?!

Meanwhile Tamsin was playing with one of her new birthday presents and after a selfie with her favourite mummy, she challenged daddy to a duel. Nobody won, as her pellet jumped out backwards inexplicably. We spent half the time outdoors searching for those pellets - my top tip is get the brightly coloured ones! The girls also posed happily (ahem) for a siblings shot - I was lucky I didn't get 'it'... another note for mummy's diary: never leave Sasha alone with a gun.




One of Sasha's favourite things is her kite - and there was just enough wind for her to make it work pretty well today (summer is starting soon, honest!). She zoomed around everywhere and I never can resist taking lots of photos of her having 'such fun'.

As the big drops started falling, we stopped for a 'hoodie selfie' and then Tamsin posed in the lovely Boules area - no time for playing there today though sadly. That's another of Sasha's favourite areas - she turns into Makka Pakka with the stones and can get 'lost' making piles for hours!

I stayed behind briefly to catch some shots in the glorious rose garden - one of my own favourite peaceful places.
Our time outdoors might have been short and sweet today, but it certainly cheered us all up and blew the cobwebs away!

This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots100 May challenge. If I'm chosen, I would like to visit Elveden Forest. #CPFamilyBreaks
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Friday, 23 May 2014

May #Siblings, Minecraft cake and Madrid!

I'm going to have to apologise for the fact that my #siblings post is a little overdue this month... but to be fair, we've been very busy.

We had my eldest girl's 9th birthday last weekend. 9!! Can you believe it?! Time has flown. I vividly remember my parents telling me that the older you get, the quicker it flashes by, and that's just so true sadly. Tamsin had a swim party, which went down very well and was probably one of the most fun parties we've had yet. This balloon shot would have been my #siblings pic of choice if it had been taken on the right day.
Minecraft cake toppers for the party bags
#Stampylongnose Minecraft merchandise!
#Stampylongnose merchandise!
I made the main Minecraft cake under strict instructions from Tamsin. Her idol, Stampy Cat (@stampylongnose) had to feature, of course. Tamsin made and added the Squid (as in @iballisticsquid) into the water herself.
#Minecraft cake with Stampy
Minecraft Birthday Cake
We had to say a final farewell to my lovely Grandma (Dad's mum) in Wales this week; the last of my grandparents to depart this world. I found it particularly emotional as I phoned her totally out of the blue on the morning she passed away. She lived to the grand old age of 90, which is quite impressive really, especially seeing as she survived the war and outlived her husband by 20 years! I do think she looked like a film star in her younger days; she was an amazing singer who loved performing and she won the 'Glamourous Granny' competition at Butlins several years in a row. Would love to get a newspaper clipping of that... wonder if I can scour the archives?!

Preparations are under way for our youngest's 7th birthday next month (again, where has the time gone?!) and it'll be a full-on My Little Pony fest. Sasha's latest passion has hit hard in the Curtis household, with MLP YouTube clips on repeat and toys being requested daily. We're hoping she'll last until the actual birthday to open the presents. Her party will be a 'gym' party and fingers are tightly crossed - a couple of weeks ago she attended another girl's party at the same place but ended up having a total meltdown after refusing to do the warm-up and not wanting to follow instructions. Hoping there'll be a bit more give and take on both sides when it comes to her own big day!

The #siblings linky is one of my favourites, as I'm sure you all know by now. The idea is to take a photo of your children together on the 10th of every month over the year. Here's our photo for this month that was taken on the 10th May:

This was our two girls on a train, on their way up to Leeds with daddy to attend the First Holy Communion of my second niece. So where was mummy? I can hear you ask.... I was in Madrid! It was a much needed break away with two very good friends, and yes I do realise what a lucky mummy I am. Daddy is of course much luckier, with his long weekends away ski-ing every year, but let's not go into that here....

Madrid is a wonderful city, and I wanted to share with you some of the photos I took there too. 

Not long until my birthday... am feeling a new camera and photography course may well be top of the list...

For some reason (different type of tree pollen maybe?) I got hit very hard by hayfever to my eyes whilst there (normally in the UK it only affects my nose), but I still managed to enjoy the local sun and Sangria very much. 

Definitely recommend Madrid, and some time away (or at home) with good friends to everyone. Cheers!



dear beautiful
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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

What do you think of our #MarioCrafts?!

The lovely folks over at Nintendo recently challenged us to make some #MarioCrafts. Luckily they also send a bit of inspiration (aka a crib sheet) along and we just had to give it our own interpretation.

First of all, we painted some hard boiled eggs! This was actually trickier than I thought it would be, as despite using lovely thick poster paints, the colour didn't seem to want to stay on very well. Sasha ended up turning hers into a multi-coloured spotted delight, but Tamsin persevered and ended up with a lovely Nintendo question mark. I couldn't resist trying a Mario myself....

Next it was onto our favourite activity, a 'spot' (excuse the pun) of baking. Never ones to turn down a cupcake challenge, we whisked up our usual easy batch of vanilla cupcakes (recipe as in a previous post here) and set about decorating them. 

With the buttercream we added some bright blue colour to one batch then experimented with some smaller, different shaped nozzles, which was fun (think I'll stick to my usual big one for the semi-professional finish though!). Then it was simply a case of cutting the stars out of some yellow ready-to-roll icing and 'drawing' the eyes on using a small tube of writing icing.

Then we hit a minor problem. My red food colouring had gone missing! So we improvised - deep pink is nearly as good, right?! I found the red later on, after we'd finished, typically....

So what do you think of our #Mariocrafts?!


Disclosure: 
We were sent some paints and baking accessories product for the purpose of making our #MarioCrafts, and a giftcard to help us purchase ingredients. All the views expressed here are our own.






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Friday, 2 May 2014

How to make your own huge, GIANT Bubbles!

Huge, enormous, massive, gigantic, humongous, GIANT homemade bubbles. I'm so kind that I'm sharing a great recipe with you to make your children very happy this weekend. Any weekend and all summer, in fact, so I hope you'll think of me every time you're laughing along with them.
giant homemade bubble mix
Giant homemade bubbles!
I can't take the credit for this myself; I came across the idea on the fabulous Happy Hooligans blog written by Jackie. Please do check her blog out after you've made the bubbles, or right now if it happens to be raining where you are. She has so many different and easy craft and activity ideas listed over there that I'm going to be working my way through them for some time to come!

Anyhow, I digress, and I want to start by showing you this clip:



See what I mean?! Amazing! We had such fun with these that I can't wait to do it again.


You'll need the following ingredients:


6 cups water

1/2 cup cornflour
1/2 cup washing up liquid
1 tbsp glycerin
1 tbsp baking powder

Add the cornflour to the water, stirring well to try and dissolve it. Next add in all the other ingredients and stir gently - you want to avoid making the bubbles and froth which sits on top as this actually hinders the bubble making.


After making this up it's important to leave the mixture to settle for at least an hour, which to be honest is the most difficult part!


In the meantime you can make the bubble 'wand' by using two straws, and some wool, or string, or shoelace (we used wool so not sure how the other materials work) which is about 6 times the length of one straw. Post it through the straws (definitely an adult job although not as tricky as I thought it would be!) and knot it well.


Then comes the fun. The first few times we tried dipping it didn't seem to work as bubbles popped too easily but don't give up, your patience will definitely be rewarded. When you get into 'the flow', boy will those bubbles flow! The best technique is to be slow and sure - dip then gently lift, back away and raise your arms slowly, and move backwards to get the bubble going. Then just keep going!

We had to wait for the wind to drop every time before we pulled the wand out, so this activity is best done in fairly still or sheltered conditions. Apparently it's not so good in blazing sunshine either but that's not something we have a lot of problems with over here in the UK... It's even good fun when the bubbles pop, especially in slow mo - couldn't resist another clip:

 

So what are you waiting for?! Go try it, now! I'd love it if you can link back or show me any pictures of all your fun.

Linking up to the fabulous Coombe Mill #CountryKids linky - we may not have actually left the garden but it was definitely good outdoors fun!!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
And of course, how could I not also link to the lovely Vic at VeViVos for #PoCoLo?! That's being hosted by the gorgeous Jaime at The Oliver's Madhouse this week! Share it so everyone can join in the fun!
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