Friday, 26 June 2015

Rend Collective, Sleepy Foxes & Play Dough ~ #littleloves

Wow! I can't believe it's Friday already! And you know what Friday means.... that's right, time for #LittleLoves (unless it's last Friday, in which case I didn't get round to it! Ooops!). So, because I missed last week (and no doubt many of you lot did too because you were all at BritMums, right?), this one might be a bit of a combination over the last fortnight, but there's lots to share! So, here goes:


I haven't done much proper reading this week, but I have been trying to read more blog posts and doing a bit of research.

I found a great article by Elle&Co about growing your Twitter following. I'm not great on stats (as I'm sure it shows) as I'd rather invest my limited time in writing than doing loads of in depth social media strategising, but if there are some simple hacks that will get my blog in front of more people then I'll have a go.

Much of this article is nothing you haven't read before - you just have to implement it! BUT, one thing that I hardly ever do is include pictures in my tweets - mainly because all of my social media is linked up - so pics will more likely appear as links to my instagram etc. I've been making more of an effort with including pictures in my tweets - particularly the ones that promote my blog posts - and my engagement has definitely gone up - worth the extra effort!
Read the article here.

I also loved a post from Suzanne at 3 Children & It called Why I Will Not Apologise to my Children. Sound harsh? It's about the standards and rules that she puts in place for her teenage brood and she's not going to apologise for having those standards. I think there's a huge gap in blogland for mums of teenagers - probably because teenagers don't want to be blogged about, which is why I love Suzanne's blog (we need to know what to expect, right?). She manages to blog positively and respectfully about her kids whilst giving us a peek into the world of teenage parenting.

One of the rules I loved was that her kids mobile phones have to be left downstairs after 9.30pm. I do worry about the impact technology has on kids today - it's nothing like what we had as kids. I got my first phone at 14, but it was so basic, it just text and called. There was no picture messaging, no apps, no internet, no facebook - I worry what our kids will be exposed to in 10 years at the pace technology goes, so this rule was definitely one to file away for the future!
Read the blog post here.


Chicago Fire! Never watched it before, and it's totally not cool, but we saw the trailer for the new series with the massive explosion and had to tune in. The result of the explosion was pretty disappointing (I was expecting a lot more people to die...). We ended up watching two episodes back to back and now it's on series link. Also, Jesse Spencer (aka Billy Kennedy, poster boy of my youth) is in it (does this guy ever age?!).


Ruby has been looking cute in dresses. We picked up a couple of jersey dresses in H&M for £2.99. You can't go wrong! Combined with a denim jacket and sneakers she is set for summer. Apologies for the lack of cute pics but you get the idea...


I've been loving a bit of Rend Collective this week. If you're a fan of Irish folk music then you might want to check them out. One of my favourite tracks is My Lighthouse.


I made something! I blogged about them here but I was just so thrilled to be able to stitch something up - I haven't done sewing in ages! These sleepy fox brooches were just a little kit that came free with a magazine a while ago but they were enough to get the creative juices flowing.

...and lastly

I've been getting creative with Ruby. Despite being quite creative myself I have to make a real effort to get creative with Ruby. I find the mess a bit scary, she doesn't sit still long enough to justify the effort and personally I prefer being out the house so we're rarely at home long enough to do anything. BUT play dough is the answer! She's been loving it, and I love it because the mess is minimal and it's easy to get out and put away. It has, however given me the confidence to try some painting with her. We have all the bits and pieces we need, but we might do it tomorrow when we can get out on the patio!


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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Introverts & the toddler years

I'm an introvert.

This doesn't mean that I'm shy, or scared of social interaction. It doesn't mean that I hate people or that I don't want to spend time with them.

It means that lots of social activity drains me of energy. Physcially, mentally and emotionally. I recharge by spending time by myself. I have to make a point of making time for myself otherwise I very quickly become drained, burnt out and the very thought of social interaction leaves me heading for hibernation.

When in hibernation, I don't want to talk, I find it difficult to make decisions, I get overwhelmed, stressed and tired very easily. I don't answer calls. I struggle to even answer texts! I back off from social media. I lose all creativity. I just want to be on my own. For a little while. To create some headspace.

It's not a bad thing, it's not a weakness or an illness, it's merely a personality trait.

By contrast, extroverts are energised by social interaction. If left alone for long periods of time, they become lethargic and depressive, they need to go out, meet people, do things and the more they do, the more they want to do! 

Often it feels like the world is geared towards extroverts. Work, church, family life is all built upon social interaction and if us introverts aren't careful, if we don't prioritise that alone-time, we burn out quickly.

But that's ok. Up until a couple of years ago I was good at that. I would often stop off at a coffee shop on my way home from work, or my long train commute gave me some space to think, or when my husband worked weekends I would while away lots of time sunbathing in the park, mooching around town, or reading a magazine in Starbucks. If I did that, I was set. I would live at a million miles an hour - working in a busy job, evening drinks, church meetings, socials, serving all day in church on a Sunday. All that was manageable and great and fun because I had that alone time built into my schedule.

Then... I became a mum.

Oh God!

The first few months were great - I mean she slept loads and cried very little. As the months turned into years I learnt to make the most of nap time - still being sure to enjoy it by doing my own thing.

Then... she stopped napping.

Oh God!

And since then, well, it's got harder.

Since then, there is no alone time. From 7am until 8pm. Toddlers require constant attention. They ask constant questions. They make constant messes. They need constant help. It's just, well constant.

"What you doing, Mummy?"

And for an introvert, constant is bad. Introverts need space. Physical space (decluttered, tidy space), mental space (time to think without being asked 'What you doing, Mummy?') and emotional space (to feel that you can process your thoughts and feelings without interruption).

Introverts + toddlers = burn out.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love my toddler. I love her cute face. I love her constant questions. I love that she is there, all the time, I love that she is dependant upon me. I love that I can be there for her 24/7 for as long as she needs me. I love that I am the one who gets to watch her every move and lead her through this first stage of life. I love that I can devote myself to her for this period.

I love it!

But it's exhausting. It's draining. It's hard.

So what's an introvert to do?

Get up!

If by some miracle she decides to have a lay-in and you wake up before her, get up! Don't waste that time sleeping. Get up! Grab yourself a hot drink and go and sit in the garden or curl up on the sofa. 15 minutes is enough to make you feel energized for the day.

Tidy up!

I often find that if the house is a mess then I just curl up and hibernate. Keep tidying, even when it feels pointless, even when she just gets everything out again, just keep at it. It's much better than surveying a state of chaos come 4pm and just giving up.

Fuel up!

It sounds obvious but we all do it. It is often 11am before I realise I've not had anything to eat or drink. Low blood sugar equals low energy and lethargy which is not going to help you when you get to a state of overwhelm. Be sure to eat and drink.  


If you set her up to do some painting, or play dough, don't just hover around and supervise. Sit down with her and do something simple, but creative. An adult colouring book, a cross stitch, or stitching up a felt brooch or something. I did this the other day with those fox brooches. I couldn't believe I managed to create something like that during Ruby's awake time, but the resulting feeling of creativity and accomplishment made me feel like I'd done something for myself and it got the creative juices flowing.

Cuddle up!

And when the day ends and little one is tucked up into bed, try to make the most of your evening. You might feel like crashing and burning, you might be too tired to even utter a sentence, but at least have a cuddle with your other half - it's easy to block them out, but they need to see you just as much as you need to be on your own!

And when all that's done...

... book a babysitter. Go to a coffee shop, mooch around town, go for a run or curl up with a good book, alone, just to recharge.

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Monday, 22 June 2015

Dear Daddy, Love Ruby

Dear Daddy,

Mummy had a busy weekend and didn't get to write a nice Father's Day post for you. I know you were disappointed. All the other mummy bloggers did one. I didn't want you to feel left out.

Here's us, we're so cheeky...

I know I'm only two, and you think I don't understand a lot. You think I can't always say what I'm thinking. That's ok. I know it doesn't always make sense to you - you'll get there, you're still learning.

But one thing I do understand is that you love me. You do tell me all the time, but apparently actions speak louder than words, and I wanted you to know that your actions are SHOUTING REALLY LOUD - just like me when I want you to come and get me out of my cot in the morning.

I love that we have special time in the mornings before you go to work. You let me come downstairs with you even when it's early. You let me switch the TV to 'Beebies even when you want to watch the news people talking. You even let me sit on your lap and share your breakfast! (You're much better at sharing food than Mummy is, well done, it's good to share).

I love that before you go to work you let me help get your bike ready. I pass you a towel so you can wipe the saddle from the rain. And I always pass you your hat too - apparently it's a very important hat. Lately, you've even let me sit on your bike! I love that you always make sure I give you a hug - even when I don't want to say goodbye - because you know I will miss you (but I think you might miss me a little bit too).

I wish you would just let me drive this thing one day!

I love that when you get me dressed at the weekends you always choose a princess dress. Mummy likes me to be practical but secretly we both know I am a princess and so dresses are the only suitable choice - thanks for your cooperation on that.

I love that when you make food you let me sit up on the counter so I can see what's going on.

I love that when we go to the park you always try to have a turn on the see-saw even though you are far too big. I love that you poke your head over the top of the slide to give me a kiss before I come down.

I love that when we go out for coffee you don't mind reading with me or colouring with me so that we all have a nice time (and so that Mummy doesn't get stressed by me running around).

This is a funny story!

Try and stay within the lines, Daddy...

I love that when we are out you buy us ice cream to share. Mummy can't eat ice cream but that's ok - all the more for us! (Thanks for letting me always have the flake).

Can we stop with the pictures and just get on and eat this thing?!

I love that you take me to church every week and even when you're talking at the front you let me come and give you a hug (if Mummy doesn't stop me in time!).

I love that when you watch the football you always tell me who to cheer for - for some reason you don't like red shirts very much.

I love that when we are out you still carry me everywhere even though Mummy is too small to do that (she says it's because I'm too big but we all know what the real issue is).

I love that you eat pretend picnics with me even though you are a big man and would probably prefer real cake to knitted cake! It's ok, I'm sure the miniature coffee makes it better.

I love that when you come home from work you make faces through the back window until I see you. I love that when I knock at the back door, instead of coming in you just knock back. I love that you take me outside to see Mr. Cat, even when it's entirely inappropriate like when it's raining, or when dinner is ready, or when I'm not wearing shoes!

I love that in the evenings we do acrobatics - you let me slide down your legs, you fling me over your shoulders or up into the air. You do this even when Mummy says we're supposed to be quietening down before bed - it's ok, it's fun (you do get quite excitable in the evenings, I hope you get to sleep ok).

I think this is what Mummy means when she says we should have quiet time...

I love that when I climb the stairs to go up to bed, you poke your nose through the bannisters to give me a kiss. I love your big cuddles and that you always like putting me to bed because I've missed you (and you've missed me too). I love that you sit with me until I fall asleep.

I love you for all the things you do.

But really,

I love you to the moon and back.

Because you are you.

Love and cuddles,

Your Ruby. xxx

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Thursday, 18 June 2015

What I made: Sleepy Fox Brooches

On Tuesday I had a massive sort out of magazines (I'm a bit of an addict) and, being a long time subscriber of Mollie Makes, I discovered I had a huge stash of little craft kits that come free with these types of mags. In need of some creative mojo, I set about making one up.

I've now resolved to make all the kits that I have (there's probably nearing 30!).

I started with this sleepy fox brooch kit from Mollie Makes, issue 32. Designed by Samantha Wood at Polka Dot Dreams, they were just staring at me from in amongst all the little kits and they seemed sweet enough and crying out to be made!

The original kit looked like this:

The templates and instructions could be found in the mag (I knew there was a reason why I keep all my mags so organised and pristine!).

And here's the finished result!

Having not sewn in a while, I'm quite proud of my evening's creative achievements! I'm not the neatest of stitchers and I appear to really struggle with symmetry but I'm so pleased with the results.

It's always nice to do something creative of an evening and these were the perfect mini project. Now, onto the next one tonight... so many choices!
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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Surprises in the Post ~ #BringBackPaper

Every day I look forward to the postlady coming. I don't know why, our postlady is nice and everything but all she seems to deliver is bills, junk mail or stuff for previous tenants. But I look forward to it all the same in the hope that one day, just maybe, somebody might have decided to send me a little surprise. It rarely happens, but we live in hope!

That's why when I saw on twitter that Jocelyn from the Reading Residence was running a #BringBackPaper postal swap I couldn't resist taking part.

Unfortunately, I neglected to take a picture of what I sent to my swap partner but it included some pretty papercrafting bits and pieces and the like. I also should have blogged about this a couple of weeks ago, but hey, I have been wanting to share this with you!

I waited in anticipation for my parcel to drop through the door - both of us had sent ours after the deadline, we seem to both be the type to leave things to the last minute (I hadn't forgotten, I just always wait 'til deadlines!).

It arrived!

OMG! I am such a lucky girl! My swap partner had taken such care and thought in choosing what to include. She included things that were so 'me' and I discovered from her letter that we actually have a huge amount in common. It was so nice to receive a lovely, handwritten letter but all the goodies were beyond my expectations!

If you can't see from the photograph here, I got a notebook, some letter writing paper, stickers, a cross stitch kit (just in case I'm interested in craft... um yes!), a miniature pen, some ribbony paperclip bookmarky things, some post-its, lollipops, a selection of drink sachets, a unicorn pencil and some bags of Haribo.

Seriously, how lucky am I?!

If you love paper, stationery, reading, writing and creating then you need to check out Jocelyn's #BringBackPaper series and get involved. She runs swaps, events and challenges throughout the year so hop on over and see what's happening. This month's activity is a Twitter Party next Wednesday!
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Monday, 15 June 2015

Hats: Toddler Style

I don't remember the last time I bought clothes for myself. I wander through clothes departments, not particularly enamoured with anything in particular, my uniform is jeans and t-shirts. If I need to dress it up then I add heels and a blazer, if I'm slobbing out then I pull on a hoodie. I guess I'm a classic mum. Nothing is practical. There's never the occasion for it. And I spend all my time running after a toddler, it's all about comfy shoes!

However, take me into the toddler fashion department and given the chance, I'd buy everything on the rail! We don't often splash out, but I'm far more likely to be tempted by something for Ruby than for myself. This week we were able to pick up a few bits and pieces. 

Ruby's not great at posing. How I would love to do little photo shoots against a nice white wall like Mummy Daddy & Me Makes Three! But Ruby isn't that compliant. And I don't have a nice big white garage door to pose against. So apologies for the lack of decent pics, but hopefully you get the idea!

Here's our little haul after a diversion into the clothes department at the supermarket:

Pack of two skirts, £4. Pack of two hats, £5 - How cute are these hats?!

The hats have been a big hit and Ruby has been wearing hers everywhere - though trying to get her to wear it the right way round is a different story. She's just too cool for school.


This week we have also bought:
  • Toddler pants in the event that Ruby suddenly becomes de-traumatised by the thought of her potty! 
  • A pretty little bag so that she could carry around her own purse and hankies. Unfortunately, this lasted a mere couple of days before it was left in the shopping centre food court - luckily it was empty! No matter how often you check and double-check - it is inevitable that something will get left behind! 
  • New shoes, as mentioned here.
I think that's all the treats we'll have for a little while. We need to save our pennies! Next time, I'll buy stuff for me, promise!

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Sunday, 14 June 2015

Sunday Thoughts

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." ~ Isaiah 55:8-9
God's thoughts are not like your thoughts. Well this has to be one of the hardest lessons we ever have to learn! And I still struggle with this one!

I have a lot of thoughts. Most of them, I believe to be true, right and correct. I mean, I have a lot of opinions and I am pretty good at arguing a good point. It's very rare that any of us believe ourselves to be wrong.

So how does it feel to know that God's thoughts are not like our thoughts?

God's plans are not necessarily the same as our plans.
God's desires are not necessarily the same as our desires.
God's dreams for our lives are not necessarily the same as our dreams for our lives.

Now, I'd like to think that for the most part, my dreams are aligned with God's dreams. My thoughts are aligned with God's thoughts (although I doubt he's too impressed with those secret, bitchy thoughts that I really shouldn't allow air-time). I'd like to think that my plans are aligned with God's plans. Wouldn't we all?

But sometimes, when things aren't going our way we might start to question those thoughts.

And here's the key to remember.

God sees the bigger picture. Trust His bird's eye view.

God sits outside of time. He knows everything. He knows what's going on in the future. He knows how other people are feeling. He knows. He knows what's going to turn out for the best.

Yesterday I had to apply suncream to Ruby. She didn't like it. She didn't understand the purpose in it. It made her uncomfortable. She wriggled and squealed and whined.

As her parent I saw the bigger picture. I knew what the alternative to wearing suncream was - pain, discomfort, long term skin damage, maybe even cancer! I knew what was best for her even if she didn't see it herself at the time.

So when God's thoughts and plans turn out not to be your thoughts and plans, try to align yourself with God. He does know. He does see. And ultimately He will prove to be wise and all-knowing. He knows what's best for you.

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Friday, 12 June 2015

Facebook, Pizza and New Shoes ~ #littleloves

Happy Friday everyone! We've had a lovely week, it's actually starting to (dare I say it!) feel like summer! Here's our #littleloves for the week:


Not much has been happening on the reading front. Not even blogs. I seem to while away my time scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, not really engaging much, just scrolling (naughty!). I have continued with Secrets of the River, though. I'm 60% of the way through and have a feeling we're just getting to a twist in the tale. I've enjoyed reafing all the book reviews that keep popping up in the blogosphere - they pique my curiosity!

I also found this article from Single Mother Ahoy about improving Facebook reach and engagement. I'm not usually that fussed about whether I'm doing well on social media - it's a miracle I find time to blog, I can't spend hours working out a social media strategy! But I applied one tip (linking my Instagram to my blog page instead of my personal page) and my engagement has improved so we're on our way to improving our reach!


Image courtesy of KEKO64 at

Highlight of the week on the box? Definitely Dominos Pizza: a slice of life on Channel 4 last night! I could not believe the commitment, passion and dedication these people have for their jobs! The chants, the speed pizza making contests (including the lunging and stretching to warm up!), the manager of the year awards ceremony... I mean these people live the brand! It was so American and yet right here in the UK. Highly entertaining and funny, yet whilst laughing at them you are mildly impressed by their dedication and passion for their work (if you're going to work there you may as well enjoy it, right?).


New shoes! Ruby and I both got new (almost matching!) sneakers. Ruby had a few treats this week but that's best saved for a whole separate toddler fashion post. But the sneakers were definitely a fun, necessary purchase.  Mine are another New Look 9:15 bargain at £10.99. I think they go up to an adult size 6 so definitely worth a look if your feet are on the smaller-to mid end of the scale. Ruby's were from Mothercare for £10.


Ruby, shouting, ridiculously early in the morning! "Mummy! Come get me!!!! Mummy!!!! I'm here! Mummy!!!! Mummy!!!! Come and get me!!!" Anyone else find this with the lighter mornings? Ruby normally wakes at 7 or a bit after. She's now shouting for me at 6 or earlier. She has blackout curtains which help, but they dont block out all the light. Anyway, I'm getting quite tired at these unearthly wakeup calls!


After our little cardmaking adventure last week, I may have caught the bug! I've got so much papercrafting stuff and there is an instant gratification to cardmaking - you can finish it in an hour and feel like you've been creative. So, on Saturday we were invited to celebrate the 2nd birthday of a pair of lovely boys we know. The perfect excuse to use this dinosaur stamp!

Another one I can't personally take the credit for, but how cute are these little hankies my mum made for Ruby? She's been suffering a bit with a runny nose of late and we're wondering if it's hayfever. She's been using her dad's disgusting snot rags or whatever has come to hand. So my mum made her her own special handkerchiefs!! So cute.

...and lastly

This week we registered for our previous church's European conference! We used to go, and serve, every year but now that we're a bit further away its quite expensive to factor in transport and hotels on top of the registration and despite wanting to, we haven't managed it for the last couple of years. We're really excited to be there this year and it will be a little child-free break as well! Cant wait! 



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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

To the fash-pack regarding festival fashion

A word to the Fash-Pack,

It's at this time of year that you fill your magazines with articles such as 'Your top 10 festival must-haves', 'Essential festival beauty fixes', 'Your festival survival guide' etc. etc.

I just want to say ENOUGH ALREADY!

I've managed to reach the ripe old age of 30 without ever having attended a festival. In fact, I've glided through my twenties without even going camping (one night in a gypsy caravan doesn't count). I'm sure there are many of us who have managed to avoid this special version of hell.

Spending three days in a tent, covered in mud, amongst crowds of people with no access to the basic facilities a girl needs in life, isn't my idea of fun. It just isn't. And though I like music, I'm no superfan of anything in particular. Add into the fact that at 4ft 11' I wouldn't actually be able to see any of the acts because crowds of people aren't transparent and you've got a pointless expedition for me personally.

Image courtesy of CC Flickr, Ross Huggett

There's plenty of other things to do in summer - days at the beach (but leave it out with 'Get beach body ready'), fab city breaks and picnics in the park. But on the whole, let's face it, we're all just living our normal lives in slightly warmer yet unpredictable weather. We're still doing the school run, heading into our swealtering, non air-conditioned offices, squeezing ourselves onto the tube or finding a quiet moment in a coffee shop. And I don't think turning up in short shorts, a kaftan, wellies with an oversized daisy crown to any of these events would be entirely appropriate.

Now I know that these are the trends and all that, but these 'trends' seem to roll around every year. Spring is for the nautical trend, summer is the festival season and autumn winter is all about parties (also things I don't seem to attend these days). And quite frankly I'm a bit bored of it all. It's a bit predictable. If you could use your imagination a bit and package these features up a bit differently that would be great.

I mean, I see the word 'festival' on your page and I flick straight past it. What should I wear when I'm out digging in the garden? Or at the park with my toddler? Or off to the first, slightly premature, BBQ of the year? How do I look good pushing a trolley round Asda?

'Cause whilst I'm sure a lot of folk are off to a festival for all of three days this summer, I'm not. And I doubt I ever will be. I actually can't ever imagine staying in a tent - we're just not all that practical. So let's try and do summer for the rest of us, just once, please.


I'm linking up here:

Mama and More

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Sunday, 7 June 2015

Sunday Thoughts

"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." ~ Ephesians 1:5

Do you know that if you accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour then you are adopted into God's family?

You might have heard that. But I was thinking about this and I realised that often we live, not as if we've been adopted into His family, but as if we've been fostered into His family.

When you are fostered, you live with your new family, you are welcomed into their home and their lives, you might even enjoy some of the benefits of your new family. Most of the time it might feel like they are your family. They provide you with shelter, clothing, food - they often love you as if you were their own.

But they are not your family. You still retain your identity from your previous family. And at any point your old family could come back and claim you as their own, removing you from your new family (and rightly so, in most cases!).

When you are adopted you live with your new family, you are welcomed into their home and their lives, you enjoy all of the benefits of your new family - including an inheritance. You feel like this is your home. They have provided you with shelter, clothing, food; they love you as if you were their own, unconditionally, forever, no turning back.

And here's the key: you are given a new identity.

When you are adopted you are given an adoption certificate - with your new name and your new parents detailed on it. This replaces your birth certificate and is used for all official purposes! The old you ceases to exist in the eyes of the law!

When you are adopted into God's family, you receive a new identity. It's for forever. It's a clean slate. A new life.

No one can take that away from you! God has claimed you as His own and He's not turning His back on you! The old has gone, the old has ceased to exist, the new has come, you are a new creation!

Yet we live as if we are merely fostered. We enjoy some of the benefits of our new family but we keep going back to our old lives. We beat ourselves up for what we've done in the past, we cling to old hurts, old shame, things that we need to leave buried. We don't live in our new identity!

God's not going to give up on you and send you back to the orphanage. The enemy has no claim on you as if he can walk back into your life and claim you as his own - you are God's. You have a new identity. You are a new creation. You are His heir and will inherit the keys to the kingdom!

When we realise this we will stop living in the past. We will live with confidence, free from shame, free from whatever has gone on in our past.

Are you living as if you're fostered or adopted into God's family?

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Friday, 5 June 2015

Style, Summer Days & Cake ~ #littleloves

I've relaxed a bit with my blogging this week. Maybe blogging every day in May took it out of me a bit! But I of course had to join in with #littleloves. It's a lovely linky to get involved with because you can do a quick summary of your week, remember those little things that make up your life, and perhaps include things that wouldn't otherwise warrant a blog post in themselves.

So this week, I have:


InStyle magazine.

I'm still reading Secrets of the River but this week has not been a week for reading books. I haven't had a moment to sit down and enjoy a book but a magazine, I can manage. I'm finding more and more, however, that I have no idea what magazines are for me.

I feel like maybe I've transitioned into another demographic and there's no-one catering for me. I used to like Company but they've since gone out of print. I'm 30. Married. With kids. I like fashion but not that much. I wear make-up, but I'm not one for the trying out the latest trends or products. I don't have much disposable income but I am aspirational. I enjoy good design and photography but I want to read proper articles about proper issues. What lifestyle magazines should I be reading, people? Anyone got any good ideas?


These days I feel like the only thing that is ever on our television is CBeebies. I'm thinking I really need to cut Ruby's screen time when we're at home, but Ruby hasn't been sleeping well this week so I am shattered. CBeebies keeps her entertained while I can get stuff done without her demanding too much attention (I have become that mum, yes!). Still, we do leave the house every day so it's not all the time (honest!). Ruby has also discovered the magic of iPlayer - we can call up any show she wants at any time. I am deeply regretting this development - I've watched Bing over and over again for four days straight - time to nip this in the bud me thinks!


Shorts! Hurrah for summer!

Ok, so I didn't quite have the guts to get my legs out so opted for the old leggings and shorts combo, but it still counts! We had a lovely afternoon yesterday in our local gardens and it was definitely shorts weather. Ruby went for the nautical look.

Also, I 'wore' my new hair! I got it all chopped off for summer. I always go for the two extremes - long or short. There's no mid length with me. A nice choppy bob for when the weather's hot. ALSO - Ruby took this picture, impressed?


My baby talking. All the time. In sentences. Conducting conversations. Making her thoughts known. Yep, I think we can now say she is not learning to talk, but she has learnt to talk. She's now coming out with so many things that we haven't taught her, I think the way children learn language is absolutely fascinating. Their minds are like sponges!

She makes us laugh all the time with what she says, but yesterday was a classic. I took her to the cafe in our local library for a drink and she marched up to the counter and loudly declared "Cake, please!" (she's very polite is our Ruby!). It raised a smile or two.

Other repeated phrases include "What you doing, Mummy?", "On the 'puter?", "Watch Beebies?", "Come here, Mummy!", "Dance, Mummy!", "Ruby have it!", "It's Ruby's!" and today's devlopment: "Give it back!". Yes, she  can be a little demanding. We are hoping this will pass!


Cards! My mum had a cardmaking evening on Tuesday. I haven't made cards since my stint as Editor of a papercraft magazine, but due to this career choice, my house is full of papercrafting goodies. So I went along and had a nice evening creating a few cards. Here's my fav - simple yet effective - employing all the techniques learnt all those years ago! Now, who to send it to?

...and lastly

Lastly, I attended a youth and family workers conference at Hillsong Church in London last week. It was held in their Warehouse building in Bermondsey. When we lived in London we were a part of Hillsong and for them to have their own building was but a dream - all of their services, team days and events took place in theatres, hotels and hired buildings. It was a huge logistical operation, but to own property in central London is huge.

So to go back and experience The Warehouse Project was brilliant. A building kitted out for their purposes. It reminded me that nothing is impossible. God grants us favour. And when we are faithful in the small things, God comes in and blesses us in the big things.



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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

#BEDM: The Best Bits

Blogging every day last month allowed me to really experiment. I wrote about a vast array of topics. I blogged outside of my niche (whatever that was). I tried linkys, interviews, opinion pieces, interiors, reviews - a bit of everything. Some things resonated with people more than others, some things got lots of hits more than others, and some I enjoyed more than others.

So, here's a round-up of my top 10 posts in May: #BEDM, The Best Bits

1st May 2015: Enjoying the Process

The one where I kicked off the challenge with a reflection on why I blog and why I needed the challenge.

2nd May 2015: Days Out, Tenterden, Kent

The one where me and my family spent the day in Tenterden sampling the steam railway, chocolate shops and cream teas. A lovely little Kentish town full of independent shops, history and charm!

5th May 2015: 6 Reasons You Won't Vote and Why You Should

The one where I implored all citizens of the UK to get out there on May 7th and to use their vote.

6th May 2015: Dear Kate

The one where I wrote to the Duchess of Cambridge and told her to channel her inner Taylor Swift.

12th May 2015: Why I can't proceed with teacher training

The one where I raised awareness for the plight of teachers and explained why I had to put my dream of being a teacher to rest.

15th May 2015: Days Out: The London Aquarium

The one where we went to the London Aquarium with a toddler.

18th May 2015: 5 books that changed my life

The one where I told you all about five books that had changed my life, from Jane Austen to the Bible, it's all in there.

20th May 2015: Why self marriage is missing the point

The one where I found out that it was possible to marry yourself, and why I think this misses the point of marriage.

22nd May 2015: Author Interview with Jess McGlynn & Secrets of the River

The one where I chatted to fellow blogger and debut author, Jess McGlynn, about her new book, Secrets of the River and what it takes to be a writer.

26th May 2015: Fun for toddlers with a cardboard box

The one where we turned my mum into an internet legend by showing off her imaginative crafty skills and what she did with a cardboard box.

What were your favourite posts in May? 

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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

What I learnt from #BEDM

I made it!

I blogged for the majority of May - that's 26 posts in 31 days, I hope you won't mind that I missed a few, but I have to tell you this is a massive achievement for me. I often set myself goals, think up good ideas but never see them through to fruition so to get to the end of the month and not feel like a total failure is a big deal!

26 posts.
26 photography / editing / sourcing sessions.
26 Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest promotion sessions.

It's a lot of work! But it's also a lot of fun, and the rewards far outweigh the effort.

I've often been a bit of a fair-weather blogger. My posts have been somewhat sporadic, I guess I'm an all or nothing kind of gal so I'll go through bursts of posting and then have six months where I'll post nothing. A lot is tied in with my mood and whatever else is going on in real life, which I think we can all understand. Life has seasons.

But I really wanted to discipline myself with this challenge. To find a rhythm in blogging that fitted with my life. I wanted something that would make me fall in love with writing again, that would make it feel less of a chore, I wanted to work out what I was good at, and what I should leave to the experts, I wanted to experiment, see what I enjoyed writing about, find out what people enjoyed reading, and by blogging every day there were plenty of opportunities for learning!

So what did I learn?

1. Give yourself permission

If you're going to take on a challenge like this, you need to give yourself permission to do so. You need to be doing this purely for your own enjoyment, it's a little piece of your own time every day that is solely yours and you need to give yourself permission to take that time out and prioritise it in your day. When I was self-employed I struggled to blog because I felt like maybe I should be working or at least blogging for work purposes. Now that I have 'permission' to purely blog for the enjoyment of it, I can do it much more freely without worrying about whether anyone's reading, responding or giving me money for it.

2. Blog what you want to write or read

I started off the challenge because I saw two fantastic bloggers running it, both provided prompts to help generate topics and on occasion I was inspired by these prompts. But for the most part, I wasn't - or at least I was inspired to write about other things. So I did. I did enjoy the prompts and will probably refer back to them if I'm ever struggling for ideas again, but if you've got a burning desire to write about Kate Middleton's baby, don't feel like you have to stick to a list of prompts that don't include that! The same goes for linkys - don't join in a linky just because you feel like you should, but if you blog something that fits in with a linky theme then link up to your heart's content!

3. Know your own life

It's easy to get discouraged if you miss a day, or neglect to post when you really wanted to, and in the past I've tended to give up all together when I hit a wall. But sometimes it's just a case of cutting yourself some slack. If you look at the days I missed in this challenge, you'll see that the majority of these were towards the end of the week. I realised Thursdays are not good days for me. We're tired, we're looking forward to the weekend, we do things on Wednesday and Thursday evenings which would mean to post on a Thursday or Friday I would have to blog during the day - not gonna happen! But as long as you spot these patterns you can just plan for them: schedule your posts weeks in advance for those days, decide not to post at all on those days, or decide to do simpler posts that don't require lots of photography or image editing.

4. Scheduling is your friend

On the whole I blogged every day and scheduled the posts for 7am the following day. This worked best for me, I'm not the type of person who can sit down and write five blog posts in one go (though the intention is there). However, I do need to schedule posts for the following day otherwise I would post at 9pm one day and 11am the next - giving no breathing space for the posts to be promoted or gain any sort of momentum. Scheduling promotional Twitter and Facebook posts are also a must otherwise no one would ever know the posts were there (though I'm yet to find a way of doing this that suits me - any advice much appreciated!).

5. The more you write, the more you want to write

There's a funny paradox in this. You would think that if you write more you might start to run out of ideas. But the more you write, the more inspiration you find, and the more you want to write. Sometimes I've wondered how bloggers keep going for years without running out of things to say, but I can totally understand now. I've got a zillion ideas buzzing around in my head! I won't continue blogging every day - I couldn't handle the pressure - but I will be blogging multiple times per week and I'm now busy putting together some kind of schedule to make that happen.

6. I have opinions

As I set out with this challenge I really wanted to work out where my niche was in the blogging world. I don't consider myself a mummy blogger, although I am a mum who blogs about her family life. I don't craft anywhere near enough to be a craft blogger and my photography skills are not up to scratch to do any kind of design or image-led interiors blogging. However, I do have opinions. Lots of them. I love consuming the news (that's the journalist in me) and deep down I've always wanted to be some kind of columnist. It was these opinion based posts that got the most views, the most comments and responses and that connected with my readership. I also found myself really enjoying writing about writing - literature, authors, the writers life - and posting Sunday Thoughts every week to encourage people in their faith. So I may well continue in this vein and see what happens!

Tomorrow I'll be posting a round up of my #BEDM Best Bits, but in the mean time, check out the lovely blogs from Rosalilium and Found Love Now What, who were the bloggers who set me the challenge in the first place. I may not have followed your prompts or joined in the chat as often as I should, but I am eternally grateful for the inspiration - I did it!


I'm took part in Blog Every Day in May!

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