My Photo Albums

If you’ve ever read my blog before then you probably know that I love taking photos. I’m not an amazing photographer or anything and probably never will be, but I love taking photos. I love capturing the moment and the memories that are contained within photographs. I love that in that frame, a moment of truth and reality is stilled and can be kept forever.my photo albums

My dad always used to take a lot of photos and while endlessly posing for the camera did my head in as a kid, I always adored looking through our family photo albums. Oh and we had hundreds. I mean literally, hundreds. Every photo my dad took would go into an album. We would have 7 or 8 films (with 36 exposures of course) for one 2 week family holiday and it all went into albums.

Since things have gone digital of course none of us think anything of snapping away, taking hundreds of photos in the blink of an eye without really thinking about it. But what do you do with all those photos? Do you share them on social media or on a blog? Do you go through the pictures you take and label each with a title so you can find them easily? Are they backed up online with thousands of photos with random file names making it almost impossible to find a specific picture ever again?

Because physical photo albums were always so filled with happiness for me as a kid, I have tried to carry that tradition on a bit. Not quite to the extent that my parents did, mind you. Instead of multiple albums per year I am trying to limit the amount of albums. Squeezing 1-2 years into one album to try to keep the amount of physical albums manageable. So, how do I do it? How do I get down from the thousands of photographs that I take every year (and I do mean thousands, I recently found a folder on the computer with 10,000 photos taken in the last 6 months) into a manageable amount that be squeezed into half a photo album?

Well, it takes some organisation.

We have online storage (currently one drive though we have used Google drive and Livedrive in the past) and every photo we take on our phones are automatically uploaded via WiFi, then downloaded onto our home computer and laptop. I then try to routinely organise the folders from my camera roll into other folders. It is easier if I do this frequently, I have left it months before and it is a daunting task at that point! I tend to create a folder per year and then have sub-folders within for events such as days out, birthday celebrations, even a nice walk where I took a lot of photos.2016-09-22 (2)

In the past I have just moved every photo from a specific event into a folder “to be sorted at a later date” but this year I am really trying to only move in the best pictures that are really worth keeping and then deleting the rest as, seriously, there are so many photos! I also have a subfolder specifically for photos of Monkey and LM. I am often snapping them painting or playing etc and I love to keep some of those pictures of them too even though they don’t fit in to a specific event category.

Then, every 6 months or I so, I look back through the folders and copy my absolute favourites into another folder, in preparation for making an actual photo album. I do this in a couple of goes, going through them again to weed out ones that are too similar and keeping the best, or funniest, or ones with a story to them, and making sure I have shots with family members and friends included too.2017-01-28 (3)

The actual albums I prefer are the ones with big self adhesive pages. I’ve never been a fan of slip in albums as all the photos have to be the same way round, and there isn’t any freedom in terms of getting lots of photos into an album. With slip in albums you can fit so many photos of a particular size into the album, and that’s it. With self adhesive albums there is more freedom.

I’ve always loved a nice collage. Even back in my uni days when I would get my films printed out, I would cut up my photos and do each page of an album as a college. I like to think my collages now are a little more sophisticated but the idea is the same. Getting as many pictures onto one page of an album, as possible. I’ve tried a few ways of doing this over the years, but I think I’ve found the nicest way to do it. I create collages using pic monkey (always a blogger’s friend) and have the collages printed out. I have a big collage with about 14 photos printed onto a 10×8 print, and small collages of 2-3 photos onto 6×4 prints and can just squeeze one big print and 2 small prints onto each page, with a bit of trimming taken into consideration.2016-09-22 (4)

I know this is a lot of pictures on each page, and for some it would be too crammed… But I love it. I love being able to see lots of shots per page and for me having more pictures per page means fewer albums in total, taking up less space, which is important to me. I then use some little coloured sticky tabs to add notes to the pages, just to give a rough indication of dates, locations, and at the moment, the kids approximate ages. I love being able to look at a page and immediately see, right that was June 2016, Monkey was just 4 and LM was 20 mths old.20170221_141332

It takes a lot of time and effort to do all this, but for me it is so worth it. Do you organise your photos? How do you do them? Do you have physical albums? Or digital ones? Or you scrapbook? I’d love to hear how you do it. For me, I am have started the task of organising photos from July-December to last year and am enjoying the process of creating my next photo album, so my word of the week, is, albums.

Diets and Crochet

I’ve been a bit quiet on here lately and I thought I would explain why. It is largely because I have finally got back into doing my crochet! I did loads when Monkey was little but after making my Granny square blanket I set my needles aside. Then LM was born, and well I haven’t picked them up again, until now. So my word of the week, is Crochet.

Hub’s mum has a gorgeous ripple blanket I always admire and I have loads of wool hanging around so I thought I would have a go at making my own. I have to admit that after a long break I could not remember at all how to crochet. The first evening involved a lot of false starts and head scratching and you tube watching! But once I remembered how to do it, I was on a roll. I’m following the fab tutorial from Lucy at Attic 24, though using different colours.

It was slow going on the first evening!

It was slow going on the first evening!0

One of the reasons that I have chosen to pick the needles up again now, is because I have also started a new diet, and doing the crochet keeps my fingers occupied so I am less likely to stuff my face of an evening!

Now, I know that I wrote recently that I am who I am, and that I was going to stop trying so hard to change myself all the time. Now, I do stick to that and I know I am never going to be super skinny or lose my curvy shape. I am trying to be kinder to myself in all areas. But, and there is a but, the trouble with the “I’m happy as I am” philosophy is that it can sometimes lead to a change of a different kind. As in the scales moving up, kind of change, and that’s not what I want either. So I needed to make a change.

A good friend of mine is a big advocate of the 5:2 diet, where you fast (only eat 500 calories) on 2 days of the week and then eat a normal amount the rest of the week. Now a normal amount isn’t the same as what I was eating before, believe me. So anyway I decided to give it a try.

I’m finding the fast days pretty easy to manage so far, which surprised as I thought I may get really hangry! I still have eggs for breakfast, a big bowl of soup for lunch and a carrot and a little hummus later. It’s not loads but it seems manageable.

What has also happened is that I have really paid attention to what I normally eat. The amount of food that I hoover up off the kids plates, treating my body like a human dustbin, with the argument “I don’t like waste” when really it is pure greed. So let’s just say that even on the non-fasting days I am eating a lot less than I was!

It’s been 2 weeks and so far I haven’t really lost any weight (possibly due to a rather boozy night in london last weekend) which is demotivating. I’m really not a patient person at all, and especially with diets. After Monkey was born, I went on a diet and lost quite a lot of weight, really easily to be honest. It was brilliant. Since LM it has not happened that way at all. Every pound lost has been hard-won and put back on almost immediately which has been hard. I know that in truth I’ve given up too easily each time, so I am determined nor to give up this time.

Not sure shots are ever advised on a diet??

Not sure shots are ever advised on a diet??

There are bound to be ups and downs and I need to find a balance between enjoying myself on the rare occasions that I go out, and not berating myself for that…. But also expecting that that will slow down my progress. I have to stop comparing this weight loss to the diet of a few years ago as clearly my body is different now. As a slight aside I was reading a really interesting article (I know, I know, apologies that it is from the Daily Fail, but it is interesting!) the other day about diets based on the bacteria found in your gut, as there are bacteria that are super efficient at extracting every calorie from food, and other bacteria that are less ‘good’ at that so help you not to gain weight. Fascinating and a reminder that we know so little of the way our bodies work and the reasons things are different for different people.

I’m not about to get my poo tested though, so for now I’m just going to stick with the eat less and move more philosophy. And to help with that, crochet in the evenings or whenever I am tempted to eat out of boredom rather than hunger!

I have to admit I am rather pleased with my blanket so far, a long way to go but it is really getting there, LM seems to like to it too… Though Monkey is moaning at how long it is taking to finish haha.PhotoGrid_1487322124286

Do you find it harder to lose weight than pre children or as you’ve gotten older? Any hobbies that help you?

The Reading Residence
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How to make a Go-Jetters style Jet Pack

Sometimes Monkey announces he wants to make something with me and after much head scratching I either a) give it a go and fail massively, producing something really rubbish, or b) persuade him that doing something else would actually much more fun and seriously hope he forgets his idea.

Other times, he says he wants to make something, and a flash of inspiration strikes. Thankfully this is what happened when Monkey announced last week that he wanted to make a Go-jetters Jet Pack last week. Becuase the feedback on social media and here has been so positive about said jet-pack I thought I would share the very simple method of making it.

1. Raid your recycling bin/junk modelling supplies to find the following.

  • A large cereal box,
  • 2 empty pop bottles (2ltr) and lids
  • 2 toilet rolls
  • Duck Tape
  • PVA Glue
  • Paint
  • Stickers
  • Tissue Paper

2. Cut the tops off the bottles and the bottom from the cereal box. Insert into cereal box and affix as best you can with Duck tape. (Try not to get too annoyed with tape sticking everywhere but where you want it to).

20160607_0956443. Mix Paint with PVA glue to make it stick to the glossy cereal box and help your preschooler paint everything.

4.While the paint it still wet stick the toilet rolls onto the front of the box.

5.When the paint is dry stick stickers and the pop bottle lids on to the front as buttons.

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6. Try and make some kind of straps. I did this using another random bit of cardboard and loads of duck tape to widen the back as the cereal box was a bit narrow. Attach to this some long bits of paper and find something else in your to use to do up the straps. I randoml had some little velcro fasteners which work quite well. (I haven’t made too much about the straps as they are possibly the worst thought out part of our creation and advise you to try and find your own way of making the straps.)

7. Stuff some strips of red yellow and orange tissue paper inside the toilet rolls to be fire.

8. Watch your child blast around the garden so happy to be alive and wearing a jet pack and chuckle at their poses while they model it to perfection.

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Focussing on Happy #1 “break”

I’ve been joining in with Jocelyn’s word of the week linky for a long time and I love using it as a way to sum up my week, though sometimes I struggle to choose one word that fits the whole week as a lot can happen in a week! Sometimes it is easy to focus on the negatives and for example this week I nearly chose overwhelmed or struggling or hectic… But when I look back at pictures from the week what I actually see is smiles and happiness. That doesn’t mean I haven’t felt overwhelmed at times but it pays to remember that the whole week hasn’t been negative.

I’ve seen many other bloggers joining in with the Happy Days linky and sharing what has made them happy that week and have loved the idea of that too so I decided I want to join in. From now on I will be combining the two. I will still pick a word that best sums up the week but I will also try and focus on the positives and what has made me happy.

So while I have still been struggling with the extra things that need doing while hubs is recovering from his op and have felt overwhelmed at times, to the point where my blog has had to go on the backburner… Overall it has been a happy week and my word of the week is “break” here is why.

Saturday I had a much needed break catching up with some friends in London for a birthday. Lots of fun and laughter, mooching round Camden which I haven’t done in years, drinking shots at 5pm and a very tipsy and bizarre first experience at mecca bingo! Very amusing and definitely a break from normality. Massive thanks to my little bro and sister in law for helping hubs with bath and bedtime so that I was able to go as I really needed it.PhotoGrid_1465473766517

Sunday dawned and it was a lovely sunny day so we popped over to my mama’s for the morning and it was lovely to feel warm and have a break from the chilly wet weather recently.PhotoGrid_1465474099322

In another break from normality we abandoned the meal plan that evening (I didn’t fancy cooking a casserole in the heat) and instead invited some friends over for a little bbq which was really really lovely and so much fun.PhotoGrid_1465473884817

Monday being the end of half term means Monkey being back at pre-school… Which as much as I love being with him… Means I also get a bit of a break from him and a bit of peace when LM naps in the afternoon, which I so need.

I’ve run out of “break” analogies now so here is a few other things that have made me happy this week.

Hubs getting better and able to move more and more. We have been on some lovely short walks round the block with the kids or just with LM, helping him exercise. He has started driving short journeys again and can help me a bit more. He even did some hoovering!PhotoGrid_1465476204731

Watching LM explore the world around her as at the moment she is fascinated by everything.PhotoGrid_1465475938930

Making a go jetters jet pack with Monkey during Mummy and Monkey time on Tuesday. Even more I have enjoyed seeing how much he loves it and how he wants to wear it all the time. Cutie.PhotoGrid_1465474282255

Doing some painting in the garden with LM and her covering me in paint too. Cheeky girl haha.PhotoGrid_1465476835042

I’ve also had a bit of a break from blogging this week which means I have managed to get quite a few things done instead. I’ve planted a load of plants and sunflowers my stepdad and father in law kindly gave us, defrosted and cleaned out a freezer and deep cleaned the bathroom. So the house may still look tip but it hasn’t been a terrible week. Plus I feel a bit rejuvenated about blogging again which usually happens after a little break. How has your week been?

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Glittery Firework Picture

I have really been struggling to do any arts and crafts with Monkey lately. Now LM is on the move she wants to be involved with everything we are doing and I struggle to come up with activities that both a 1 yr old and a 3 1/2 yr old can enjoy (if you have any, please share them!). She only naps once a day now too and I am generally shattered by that point so not much crafting happens then. We do do things occasionally but I rarely blog about them now and I try not to feel too guilty as Monkey is doing plenty at preschool (he now does 1 full day plus 2 mornings a week) but have really been wanting to do something new and fun with him. Tuesday mornings my parents take LM to a rhyme time group and that has become Mummy & Monkey time so today we have been making a glittery firework picture.20151103_095247

Monkey has never seen real fireworks, and has only seen them on cartoons so to start with we watched a youtube clip of a fireworks display and talked about how noisy they are. I also explained about bonfires briefly so we decided to make a picture of a big fire with fireworks around. Monkey helped me tear and cut some red, orange and yellow tissue paper which we then glued to the paper to make the bonfire.bonfire

Then came the really messy bit. Glitter doesn’t come out in our house too often because it gets everywhere… but you can’t have fireworks without a bit of sparkle now can you? I showed monkey how to glue some lines and shapes on the paper and he chose the colour glitter to use. He loved pouring the glitter on and then tipping it off to reveal the picture underneath, gasping and proclaiming it was “magic!”fireworks 1

I tried to keep the mess to a minimum and tip the remaining glitter back into each container but there’s only so much you can do with glitter really. For the most part Monkey wanted me to do the gluing for some reason, but I actually preferred his shapes as they were more random so I really encouraged him to do the gluing. Because he enjoyed it so much we made a couple of other pictures just with fireworks on and I really loved his firework shapes.fireworks 2

 

 

20151103_101528Monkey loved touching the glitter and wiped it all over his face, saying “look, I’m all lovely and sparkly now!” haha love him.

So there we have it, a very simple fireworks picture. I’ve always loved fireworks and adored making pictures like this when I was a kid so look forward to making many more with Monkey and LM as they grow.

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Making Egg Box Caterpillars and Butterfly Painting

When I knew that we were soon headed to London to see the Sensational Butterflies exhibition I knew I wanted to do some related crafting with Monkey in preparation. So I googled a few things and got some lovely inspiration from Twitter (thanks guys!) and then gave Monkey the option of making butterflies or caterpillars. He chose caterpillars so I showed him a few pictures online of different ones we could make – finger painting, pom poms etc, but he chose the ones made from egg boxes and tissue paper.

So I duly cut up an egg box (we have the big long 12 egg boxes and I’m not sure they are the best ones for the job as they were slightly one-sided caterpillars but it sufficed anyway) and some tissue paper, dug out some googly eyes from the bottom of the craft draw and we set off doing Monkey’s favourite thing – gluing and sticking!!

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As mentioned I don’t think our egg boxes are the best ones so we tried making them two different ways – first with a long caterpillar but with holes down one side, and second with a short one as I folded the row in half and then taped it together. I’m not sure which is best or if it makes much difference actually, Monkey loved making both!

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The first I chose the colours (note The Very Hungry Caterpillar theme) but the second one was Monkey’s choice and it had to be all red (his favourite colour).

egg box caterpillars

Googly eyes were stuck on, and apparently they needed to have a smily face too, and I wasn’t sure what to use so I just grabbed a couple of pipe cleaners, snipped short lengths to be bent into shape and we glued them on, which I don’t think looks too bad really!

We did then go on to do a bit of butterfly craft too, in Nanny’s birthday card. It was the first time we had done the traditional, paint one side and fold together, butterfly painting, but actually he did really well with it! He painted in the lines I told him too and splodged some lovely patterns on the right hand side and it looked lovely after folding toegther. then of course we had to do some more gluing and sticking with sequins and give it a smily face using some glitter glue :)

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Playing Pirates

I’m not sure where it comes from but Monkey has a little love of Pirates. It could be from a pirate episode of Postman Pat or that pirate programme on cbeebies Swashbuckle (does that do anyone else’s head in?) or it could just be because he has loved looking through cardboard tubes for a long time. We call them telescopes and his Nanny and Pops say things like “I don’t see no ships” in a piratey voice whenever he has one. Maybe it is a combination of these things but wherever he has got it from Monkey likes all things pirate.

So for a while we have it in mind that we would like to do some pirate themed fun and on one weekend recently we had some spare time and Hubs decided he and Monkey would make a treasure chest and some treasure.

They had great fun painting the chest and making treasure out of tin foil and painting those.

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Then another day in the week Monkey and I drew a treasure map. Monkey told me where to put the cross and he drew some ponds… then I had to go get LM and came back to discover there was some lakes added on too and the X is now at the bottom of a lake ;) whatever you say Monkey! I drew on some trees and then was instructed to draw peppa pig and her house – so that is what the red and pink bits in the top corner are supposed to be lol! Hmm maybe Peppa Pig has something to do with his interest in pirates?

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To continue the piratey fun we then made Monkey his own pirate hat.

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He loved running around with his hat and telescope, but the treasure map held very little interest for him. The real winner with this activity is the treasure chest and treasure. He absolutely adores his treasure chest and can spend ages in the conservatory (excuse the mess, this is the messy play room/laundry drying area) putting the treasure in and taking it out, posting his treasure through the telescope, and collecting it all in one of his treasure cups.

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The hat and telescope often end up in the treasure chest too bless him! It has been great fun doing all of the pirate activities and best of all it is an activity that lasts as he loves playing with his treasure!!

It’s the first time we have really done a themed week of activities, but I think we will again.

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RaisingEmily

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Mini Creations

Getting Christmassy!

This week has been one of those weeks. After a lovely time at the wedding on Sunday we both still felt really poorly and hubs spent all of Monday in bed, which just isn’t like him. Then just lots of things have gone wrong, there’s been spilled drinks, the light bulb in the downstairs loo went & its a funny halogen one and of course we don’t have spares. Then when some lovely friends paid me a surprise visit to cheer me up, one of them hung up her coat and the shelf with all the coathooks on fell off the wall on top of her, sending coats, bags, etc. flying across the hall. Just what we needed! As she rightly said thugh, thank goodness I wasn’t underneath it carrying the baby, as I had been seconds before!

LM has been poorly too meaning sleepless nights for hubs and I (though I have tried to take the lion’s share so he can actually get better!) and it has just felt like one thing after another so if I’m honest I have been pretty mopey. One thing I really haven’t felt, is particularly Christmassy.

But things seem to be looking up. Hubs is on the mend. We’ve changed the bulb in the bathroom loo (though yet to tackle repairing the shelf :() and even LM seems to be getting better so this has all improved my mood no end. With less than a week until Christmas I decided today it was time to get Christmassy. We’ve had the tree up for a while but didn’t have any other decorations up so today I got out some tinsel and with Monkey’s help (?) hung it around the house.

Monkey and I also did some simple Christmas crafting  today, he is sooo excited about Christmas bless him and after watching a Christmas episode of Mister Maker he was desperate to get his Christmas Craft on. I first got the idea for the snowman picture from the lovely Tarana at Sand in my Toes. With Monkey’s own twist because of course the snowman has to have hands (?). Monkey is obsessed with Snowmen, we bought the Raymond Briggs duo fo The Snowman and Father Christmas and they have basically been on on repeat for over a week, he loves them! So if anything I have “Another Blooming Christmas” going round in my head, not particularly cheerful for someone who actually loves Christmas!

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The Christmas tree is as simple as it looks, I cut out a tree shape and invited Monkey to stick a variety of sparkly shiny bits on! And of course the obligatory glitter, which of course ended up in his hair and all over the place, but he loved it :).

I’ve finished the meal plan and shopping order for Christmas week and even started on wrapping the humungous pile of presents that I have been avoiding. I normally love wrapping presents but have struggled to find the enthusiasm for it this year so far. Time for that to change. Though I have barely touched the surface yet have managed to go through 3 rolls of wrapping paper already… that can’t be good!  Anyway, with less than a week to go now until the big day, I am determined to stop moping and embrace the Christmas Spirit!!

Are you feeling Christmassy yet? What is your word of the week?

The Reading Residence

Christmas Toddler Crafts – Sparkly Pinecones

Yup we have been doing more Christmas Toddler Crafts! This time involving pinecones and a load of glitter! Monkey loves a good nature walk, collecting all the bits and bobs and bringing them home ( I am regularly having to clear out a load of leaves and twigs from the conservatory!).

A while ago we collected some lovely pinecones with the idea of doing something fun with them around Christmas. Another lovely simple toddler craft… but with the potential of getting a little messy!

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Christmas Toddler Crafts – Snowman Decorations

Our Christmas crafting has begun! Monkey is hugely excited about Christmas this year, he loves seeing all the decorations in the shops and was running round one shopping centre shouting “Merry Christmas” to anyone and everyone!

I wanted to harness this excitement so we have been making some lovely Snowman Christmas Decorations.

Christmas Toddler Crafts - Snowman Decorations

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