Word of the Week – 18/4/14

Thank you for continuing to link up! I love reading everyone’s chosen words, and it’s great to see so many familiar linkers, as well as new ones each week. It is a linky, so do please take the time to visit a few other posts if you link up, as that’s only fair.

If you’re new here, Word of the Week is a nice and simple weekly linky, with everyone welcome to pop by and share. You reflect back on the past week and sum it up in one word. Then share your word with us in a blog post, with as little or as much explanation as you like. Come join in!

My word of the week this week is:


I have been totally on it this last week! I’ve been doing loads more gardening and the landscaping and tough jobs are all now complete, so I’ve just fun tasks like planting and creating our wildlife area still to do. You can read where I’m at with it all in my latest Project Garden post. I’ve moved Boo’s bedroom around, got some of her toys up for sale and others have been taken to a charity shop, and then I had room to create a reading nook in her room, which we LOVE! Whilst de-cluttering, I also had a good rummage around in their playroom and got rid of a few more things – I do love to de-clutter, as it makes me feel so organised. I’ve moved some furniture around downstairs and created a little area by the back door for all of my gardening things. I’ll share more on that soon, as redecorating the whole kitchen is next on my to-do list, so I’ll blog about that one separately when I get there. I am totally on top of organising #BringBackPaper book swaps, sending out the gorgeous stationery bundles, my own correspondence is all up to date, and I’ve lots of blog posts written and scheduled. I’ve bought  and wrapped birthday presents for both this month and next, and started squirrelling bits away for other birthdays later in the year. The house is clean and tidy, the washing basket empty and I’ve no ironing pile – all done and put away! And, lest you believe that all of this industriousness has been at the expense of time with my family, the kids have been doing various Easter activities and crafts every day, we’ve christened our new tuff spot, seen family and been to a blogging event together. So yep, feeling pretty good. And I’ve had time to read a couple of books ;-)

What about you? What one word sums up your week best? Grab the badge, link up and share, and do please take the time to read a few others…

The Reading Residence

Linky opens at 6.30am Friday, to midnight on Sunday.

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Project Garden Update – 10th April 2014

We’ve been pretty busy out in the garden these past few weeks, so I thought it was about time that I shared what’s been happening.

Regular readers will know that I started taking an interest in my garden last summer, and have steadily been adding things and changing it. You can read back over the updates here, along with my original post. I’ve actually just re-read that one again myself, to refresh myself on my initial ideas and I spotted that I’d given myself a deadline of the start of summer to have it all sorted – best get a move on then! Looking at it, and all the hard work we’ve put in recently, I think the end is in sight. It’s also interesting looking back at the photos of the garden last summer, as it all looks so full, whereas now it’s looking more ‘twiggy’ and bare!

On the list last year were:

Alliums. I fell in love with them and decided I needed some. Well, they’re in and they’re shooting up, with a few buds already! Hopefully I’ll have them blooming soon.

Fruit and Vegetable Patch. The strawberries from last year are all looking healthy and ready to bear fruit again, and I’ve ordered my blueberry bush and raspberries, so just waiting for those to arrive. The patch will all go on the sit of the old, destroyed shed, behind my cut-flower patch – see further down.

Herb Garden. I planted this one up last year, and it’s looking great.

Wildlife Garden. We’ve just started to build this, and it’s in an area right next to a buddleia which always attracts the butterflies. I’ve ordered my little trendy pond, though, stacked up bricks ready and will share all on this in a separate post soon.

More Climbers. Oh, yes. Over the past few months, I’ve added a couple more clematis, a honeysuckle, a jasmine and 3 roses – you know I love my roses! My aunt bought me a David Austin voucher for Christmas, so I now have a Sombreuil planted up, ready to train across the left-hand fence.

And then as the project progressed, I added:

Remove one of the Sheds. Done! It was kicked and shoved down by the Husband and my brother a few weekends back, and they then had fun burning it all, much to Boo’s delight!

shed destruction montage

This is what we were then left with..

shed space

Lots of clearing away of rubble, and now we can see the other shed behind, I see A LOT of ivy on that roof! Pulling it off, the roof felt and some timber came away with it, so clearing it all off and re-felting it was added to the job-list..! That was one we did a few days ago..

shed roofed

The roof is pretty rotten, really, but buying a new shed is just not on the list this year, so we did the best we could with it and added a little timber on top to keep that roof on!

Cut the Laburnum Tree Down. It was blocking out a lot of light, and I know the sap and leaves aren’t great and can be poisonous. A man with a chainsaw came a couple of weeks ago and got rid of it – hooray! In fact, if you’re Midlands-based, I’d definitely recommend using Elms Tree Services – they were great.

tree cutting

Flatten the Rockery. Done! The plants have been relocated, the soil has been redistributed all over the garden (Oh, how I ached the day after we did this!) and I laid a little path through it.

A Cut-Flower Patch. The old rockery is now my cut flower patch. I’ve a few perennials coming that I’ll plant in here, too, to give it some all year round life, and my flower seeds have been sown this week. I cannot wait to see those start to come up. I’ve been out there watering every evening, and will continue to eagerly look for any small signs of germination! These seeds..


are all now in here…

cut flower patch

Create a Potted Area. I want clusters of pots gathered around by my buddleia, that I’ll use to plant up lots of bulbs and add flashes of colour. It can easily be seen from the kitchen window, so creating a nice view. I’ve bulbs and seeds in a few of them, and I’m waiting for more to arrive within the next fortnight so that they’ll all be full. I’ve also a few hanging pots that I plan to pop some trailing fuchsias in, again waiting for them to get here!

potted plants

Kids Play Area. For this year, this will be on the deck, as Little Man’s still quite small so I want him near to the house! Next year, it’ll probably move up to the patio area by the shed at the back of the garden. This one’s done, and they have a playhouse, trampoline and the ultimate mudpie kitchen out there. We also have various ride-ons, their own gardening equipment as they love to help and tend their own mini-gardens, and the sand and water table will be out soon!

children's play area

Where we’ve bare patches of grass, seed has been scattered, and the site of the shed bonfire is starting to improve with regular raking. Mowing has recommenced again, so I’ll keep mowing, sowing and raking until I have a nice lawn again! I’ve a fairly big order of bulbs, plants, shrubs and fruit coming soon, and I cannot wait for that to arrive! We’ve been out there a lot lately, and it’s nice to now be at the planting stage, with pretty much all of the landscaping and hard labour done. I’m continuing to keep track of ideas and inspiration over on my Project Garden Pinterest board, so when a flower or plan inspires me, I pin it! Planting the fruit and veg patch and building the wildlife garden will be next, along with planting up my delivery. I’ll bring you another update soon, as it feels like progress!

To give you an idea, this was the back of the garden last year..

photo (88)

and this is it today…

garden today

How’s your garden growing?

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Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

Boo’s Reading Nook

At the weekend I decided to move Boo’s bedroom around. She’d outgrown some of her toys and so I bundled some up for the charity shop and some up for sale. I moved a few more toys into Little Man’s room, too, and commandeered some shelves she’d had in there for some storage in the kitchen – I’ll be updating on a kitchen makeover soon! Anyway, this all meant I freed up the space that I needed to create Boo a reading nook, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while.

I used some cushions that my mum had covered for me in material that we’d used for her curtain ties and bunting (all made by my talented mum), and they fit perfectly into the alcove, along with Boo’s little book box. The alcove is right by her window, so that she’ll have plenty of natural light flooding in there are she reads, as I see this being her reading nook for many years to come. Eventually, I’ll add shelves in there, too, but for now, this is all she needs…

reading nook creation

I picked up the canopy in Ikea on our last trip there, and it was in the sale, so I was pleased!

It was so simple to do, but I think it looks great, and Boo now has a snuggly little corner for her reading or just sitting in, as it is cute. She absolutely loves it!

our reading nook

What do you think?

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Creative Challenge
Post Comment Love

Bring Back Paper! Book Flowers

Thank you so much for supporting my #BringBackPaper campaign. It is for anyone and everyone who loves paper, and you can read more here. You absolutely don’t have to be a blogger to join in, though if you are, you’re more than welcome to blog about any involvement in it! Any and all paper fans welcome! Last week, we perused a fab stationers and there’s a give-away for a Moleskin notebook there that’s still open.

We’re 2 weeks in, and this is where we’re at so far:

Campaign Update:

- I’ve now paired up over 40 of you for this month’s #BringBackPaper book swap. Still plenty of time to get involved, too. Simply email over your postal address to me at jocelyn@thereadingresidence.com, and I’ll send you someone’s address in return and you select a book from your shelves (or second hand shop if you cannot bear to part with one!) and post it to them. All swaps need to be received this month, please. (I am also starting to get interest in North America for this, so looking for more people from over there to get involved, please – I’m only pairing up within nations, to save international postage costs)

- I’ve seen a few letters/cards going out and chatted with some of you about last week’s proposed activity so I’m hoping we’re getting paper out there. If you’ve done it, share it, if you’ve yet to do it, there’s still time! Write a note today :)

- We have guest posts going into July now! We’ve some great ones coming, and give-aways and featured businesses. It’s all go! If you’d like to feature, too, be lovely to have you, so just drop me an email.

- The hash tag #BringBackPaper is getting more attention! You can find me on Twitter and Instagram, and share any papery photos there. Over this past week, I’ve seen notebooks, letters, children’s classic books and magazines, to name but a few things. Do feel free to join in and share all things paper yourself, too.

- My #BringBackPaper stationery goody packs, for £15 with free P&P, are selling well! Plenty of you want them and my first batch has been sent out and happily received! I’ll be ordering more stock in today, so if you want to be all stocked up on a surprise bundle of stationery sets, note-cards, jotters, just email/tweet me for yours. Here’s a snap of my delivery arriving, a photo of one pack all bundled up, and then a shot of my packages ready for posting!

Bring Back Paper Stationery Bundles

- The ‘Papery Peep’ linky is coming! The last Wednesday of every month, so the 30th April will be our first, pop by and link up your papery photos. Whether it be a shot of some gorgeous letters you’re sending, your book swap, a pile of journals or a book shop you’ve browsed, it’ll all be enjoyed here. You can then add as many or as little words as you like to the post – totally up to you. I’m looking forward to this!

Proposed activity for this week: Share a pic of your current (paper!) reading matter with us. Magazine, newspaper, letter, book – anything you like! Just tweet and/or IG it with the #BringBackPaper hash tag and we can have a nosy and celebrate our paper-loving ways!

So, onto today’s feature. Today we have a guest post from the lovely Zena’s Suitcase

How To Make a Book Flower

I’d been sat outside this shop for a while, the noises were very different to the bookshelf but I was used to them now. All I can remember before that was being sat on my nice comfy shelf, getting a little bit dusty. I’d been there for a while. No one had cracked my spine for such a long time, I was feeling very unloved but it was still home at least.

One day someone came who I didn’t recognise, perhaps I was going to be read! At last, I thought. A book needs to be read like you need to breath, it keeps us alive. I started to get that excited feeling when you know each page is about to be turned. I was taken off the shelf all right, but then I was thrown into a dark space. There were other’s in there, I know that. I banged into the Encyclopedia and then the lights went out. Now I’m here, in this basket. The sun is lovely and warm, but it turns my pages brown. Some days it’s not quite so warm and me and the other books huddle together, hoping that the people who look through us will take us to another shelf.

Today I got picked, today was my lucky day. I said goodbye to my friends, but it was quick. No one ever gets long before they make their exit. This always seems such a shame after we’ve spent such a long time together but we all knew how it worked.

It was a short journey and here I was somewhere new, with new friends. There was glue, he said he was the PVA kind, what ever that means. The scissors were very friendly, some were straight and the others took great pleasure in telling me all the different lines they could make one after the other. There were cards, tags and sticks too! Everyone seemed really happy, like something fun was going to happen. I started to feel excited too.

Some pages were ripped out of me. This was new, not like being read at all. My pages were cut into squares. The scissors seemed to be enjoying it, that’s for sure, I was still a little apprehensive, as I’m sure you can imagine.

book flower1

The scissors then rounded the corners of the square, before cutting me from the edge into a spiral. They stopped in the middle leaving a circle that was about 2 cm round. This was important later on apparently.

book flower2book flower3

book flower 4

The wavy scissors had a turn next. They went round the outside edge of the spiral making their wavy lines. The straight scissors were a bit miffed as they could have done this, but the wavy scissors said they were quicker. Ouch!

book flower 5

book flower 6

book flower 7

My page really did look funny after all this cutting! This funny spiral with a wavy edge was new to me. But I was still flat, this I was familiar with at least. Then came along someone I hadn’t spotted before. A quilling tool is what he said, but I hadn’t ever heard of him. He said he had done a lot with paper, which made me feel slightly better. The thin edge of my spiral was threaded into the tool with the flat edge at the end. I was wound round and round, trying to keep the flat edge together all the time until I was at the middle. I was glad when it stopped, I was starting to feel a little dizzy.

book flower 8

book flower 9

book flower 10

By this time the glue was really excited. I was taken off the quilling tool, and I unwound a little, with a bit of help from the lady. This was definitely a little more relaxed. She then put a good dollop of the glue on the bottom and on the circle that was left. When she stuck us both together I looked really different, just like a flower! I felt a little bit soggy, but after a while it seemed to start drying. I was going to stay flower. The other pages really wanted to join in now.

book flower 11

book flower 12

book flower 13

I’ve been given a whole new lease life. Some pages, sorry flowers, were stuck to sticks that were apparently meant for the garden. Some flowers were stuck to place cards, this would make a lovely vintage name card for any wedding. Some got to go on gift tags making an unusual touch for any present any time of year. This way I still get to make people happy, I’m not in a basket in all weather’s and I hopefully I get to be kept somewhere safe because people like me so much.

This idea has been adapted from Kirstie Allsop’s TV series where she originally used it to make rings.

This post was written for The Reading Residence by Zena who can normally be found at Zena’s Suitcase . You can also follow her on Twitter or Like her on Facebook.

zena's suitcase

Thank you so much, Zena! Those look absolutely beautiful, and I enjoyed the accompanying story, too. I love books and I adore flowers, so this is a rather appealing and talented amalgamation!

Hope you enjoyed reading, too? If you try it yourself, do please share with us.

Next post up on the blog today is also of the paper-loving variety, as I created a reading nook in my daughter’s bedroom – we love it!


And remember to stop by next Wednesday for more #BringBackPaper, and in the meantime, you can share any papery activities and appreciation over on social media with us all. Thanks!

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Mathseeds – Review & Offer Code

We were recently contacted and offered the chance to review Mathseeds. I jumped at the opportunity, as Boo uses and enjoys the sister programme, Reading Eggs, which I reviewed here.

So, on hopping over to their website, it tells us that Mathseeds:

‘Discover the fun way to grow your child’s maths skills!

Mathseeds teaches kids aged 3-6 the core maths and problem solving skills needed to be successful at school with fun, highly interactive and rewarding lessons.

Mathseeds combines highly structured lessons with fun motivational elements that keep children engaged and keen to learn.

Your kids can start learning with Mathseeds anytime and anywhere there is a computer or tablet – just click the ‘free trial’ button to get started!’

Image from Mathseeds

Image from Mathseeds

The lessons cover areas such as counting, number recognition, greater than/less than, higher/lower, larger/smaller, and so on. Like Reading Eggs, there is a lesson map which Boo is working her way through, and when sections have been completed, a quiz to check her understanding. This also leads to certificates – Boo is a fan of a certificate! She was excitedly wielding her latest one for her daddy as soon as he walked through the door the other evening!


Boo has now been using this for a fortnight, and not only loves it, but is clearly learning from it. She asks to do it every day, and cheers and claps herself when she does well, which I find really sweet! I sometimes sit and talk her through sections, though generally can leave her to get on with it. I love hearing her counting as she works out an answer. We have a touch-screen PC which makes it very easy for her to operate herself, though of course, if she’s struggling with any element, we work it out together.

At 4, Boo will be starting school in September, so I feel that this is setting her up nicely for that. My daughter does like to learn and be tested – she’s a veritable sponge – but I’m sure she thinks these are all just games anyway and is unaware that she’s taking on board lots of basic maths skills. It is a fun programme, and one that I feel we’re really getting a lot out of it, as it makes her excited and happy, as well as developing her understanding around numeracy.

The 12 month subscription cost is currently £29.95, which I personally think is reasonable. If you’d like to try it out, you can have a 2 week trial as standard, but if you use this code that I’ve been offered for my readers, UKB27MST, you’ll receive a 4 week trial. Give it a go!

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Family Fever

The Theme Game – Funny

Welcome to The Theme Game! Redpeffer and I will choose a weekly theme and invite you to link up any posts that fit with it, old or new. It’s a chance to give some older posts a new airing, or to write to your heart’s content on the new theme – totally up to you, and we look forward to seeing what you come up with. I’ll always announce the following week’s theme at the bottom of Tuesday’s posts, too, so you’ve plenty of time to write or find an appropriate post.

It is still a game, of course, so we’ll pick a weekly winner, and then both Iona and I will share that post over several days for the world to read (well, our social media followers and readers anyway!). As always, we ask that you do take the time to visit some of the other posts, and Iona and I will add ours to the linky, too – I do love rifling through my archives!

Last week, our theme was ‘play’, and we had so many wonderful posts link up. We did manage to choose a winner, and our winner was 2 Boys 1 Mum – well done! You can read the post here, and both Iona and I loved it!

This week, our theme is ‘funny’, so come link up and share any funny posts! It’d be lovely if you can grab the badge, too. Look forward to reading…

The Reading Residence

Linky opens 6.30 am Tuesdays, until midnight on Fridays. Next week the theme will be ‘treats’

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Making an Easter Chick Card

This morning we received a box full of Easter goodies for the children, from my aunt. It was full to the brim of activities, treats and chocolate, so they were delighted! I felt that it called for a nice, personal thank you card, which Boo was more than happy to get involved with (Little Man was napping, so the coast was clear!)

We used:
1 Piece of White Paper
A Splodge of Yellow Paint
1 Paintbrush
1 Googly Eye
A Dab of Glue
1 Orange Felt Tip
1 Foot!

We started by folding the piece of paper in half, and then popping the yellow paint onto a paper plate. I prepared the area by grabbing a bit of scrap cardboard and wipes ready to have the painted wet foot after it had done it’s job!

Easter Chick Card 1

She then popped her foot in the yellow paint and stood on the paper, so that we had this…

easter Chick Card 2

Boo then added a few lines to the chick’s back for wings..

Easter Chick Card 3

We then left it to dry for an hour or so, and then glued on a googly eye and added legs and a beak…

Easter Chick Card Completed

And there we have it! Hope my aunt likes it :)

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Mini Creations

A Bubbly Moment

You know that half hour before school pick up time, or pre-school pick up time, in my case? I don’t know about you, but I find it either drags as I’m clock watching and loathe to start anything new, or it flies as I’m dashing around somewhere desperate to make it there on time!

One day last week, it was the former. Little Man and I had just finished playing a game together, but we still had around 10 minutes to kill before getting ready to go out. Instead of just drifting into the playroom for a bit of free-play (it would have involved him grabbing various things and throwing them everywhere, whilst I trailed round after him, I’ve no doubt!) I decided to make the 10 minutes count.

I got the bubbles out. Simple!

Bubbles fun

He loves the machine, and shouts ‘bubbles’ repeatedly at it! Turning it on and off and having them all hit him is clearly part of the attraction, too! He giggled and got covered, and it was lovely to carve out a little moment of fun with such an easy thing to do. Surely everyone loves bubbles?!

Safety point! – We tend to operate an outside only rule with these, largely because I worry about them making the floor dangerously slippery, but I had my trusty steam mop handy, ready to make the floor safe again! I also took his socks off and held his hand as soon as he was up – it was really slippery! No dogs were hurt in the making of this – Harry did not slip ;-)

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The Blog Lowdown – Tiasmum 12

Today on The Blog Lowdown, I’m delighted to be hosting Kelly, from Tiasmum 12….

Please Introduce yourself:
Hello, my name is Kelly Finn and I’m mummy to my daughter Tia, and wife to my husband Michael.

When did you start blogging?
I started blogging January 9th 2013 when I was on maternity leave.

Tell us a little about your blog
I started my blog as a way of writing down memories, all the small stuff that otherwise could be forgotten. I blog about Tia’s development, what she wears, my weight loss journey, I do reviews and also write a bit about my home and garden. So a real mixed bag!

Who designed your blog?
I designed my blog myself and I had a little help from a twitter friend setting it up. My cool social media buttons were a freebie from mammasauras.

Which of your posts have been the most popular? Are there certain types that get more interest?
My cloth nappy and weaning posts have been really popular, also posts about what Tia wears seem popular.

How do you promote your blog posts, and which methods do you find to be most successful?
I promote on twitter, Facebook, google+, Instagram and Pinterest. I find Twitter links more successful then other platforms.

Which linkys do you most enjoy joining in with/reading?
Linkys I love include, Word of the Week, Tried and Tested and Silent Sunday.

When are your busiest days on the blog, and why? (if you know why!)
I don’t have certain days that are more popular, I would say weekdays in general compared to weekends. I guess weekends are more devoted to family time? It is in this house anyway :-)

Can you name 3 things that blogging has brought you?
Blogging has brought me great friendships with a huge support system, great review opportunities and personal satisfaction. I gave up work to look after Tia, so blogging keeps my mind busy, it’s also so lovely that other people like reading my thoughts.

My top five tips are:5 tips for successful blogging
1) Join in with weekly linkys if you can, not only are my posts seen by new people every week, but I also find lots of great new reading material too.
2) Read, like and comment. Try and do these three things if you read a post and enjoy it. The favour is normally returned.
3) Socialise with people on social media sites such as twitter, Facebook etc to find new readership and find out more about your current.
4) If you have ideas for posts but no time, write titles and draft them!
5) Try not worry about stats, yours or anyone else’s. Blog for yourself and don’t worry about the rest.

My Social Media Links

I’m on twitter http://twitter.com/@tiasmum12
I’m on facebook http://Facebook.com/tiasmum12
I’m on Pinterest http://Pinterest.com/tiasmum1/
I’m on google+ Kelly Finn.
I’m on Instagram @mrsfinn86


Thanks very much, Kelly! Great to find out more about you and your blog, and I do like those tips. They are very sociable, and I’ve found the blogging community to be a lovely place to be a part of, as well as enjoying reading so many blogs!

If you’ve any questions for Kelly, feel free to comment on this post, and she’ll pop by and check in. Next week, we will be hearing from Jenny over at Let’s Talk Mommy, so be sure to pop by for that on Sunday evening. You can catch up the previous posts from other bloggers here, too, if you’ve missed them.

If you’d like to feature on The Blog Lowdown, just get in touch with me at jocelyn@thereadingresidence.com. Posts are booked up for the next few weeks, but I’ll be happy to book you in as soon as there’s an available slot :)

To ensure you don’t miss any, you can now sign up for my newsletter, and I’ll always include The Blog Lowdown round up in those.

Other posts you might like:

A Blogger’s Guide to Pinterest

10 Tips to Get your Blogging Mojo Back

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