Duck-Feeding, Just The Two Of Us

A couple of days ago, Little Man and I popped to the park and to feed the ducks after we dropped Boo at school. Nothing strange about that, I know, except that to me, it felt really odd. I realised that this was the first time that we’d done this, just the two of us, I mean. Little Man has been on plenty of park trips and seen lots of duck feeding, but we’ve either done it all as a family at the weekends, or I’d always wait for the days that Boo wasn’t at preschool to take them, so that she didn’t miss out.  But she’s at school now, and it only seems fair that Little Man and I have our own adventures and outings like this. We’ve been spending our time going to classes and catching up with friends or happily playing at home, but I see this changing now, as we do like the park…..

He was determined that he’d have to carry the bread, and was pretty pleased with himself for doing so!

feeding the ducks

feeding the ducks2

Ducks fed, we wandered into the park where Little Man could have a good explore and run about. We chatted about the leaves, the trees and he had to run through them and under them, of course….

little man exploring

And on the way back from the car, he found a little rest stop to take in the peace and quiet…

feeding the ducks7

He loved it, I enjoyed getting out in the fresh air with him, so I can see this being a weekly visit from now on. I’m sure we’ll both be happy that.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

#ElfTakeover is Coming Back!

Some of you may remember that last year, myself and the lovely Life With Munchers ran a weekly linky during December called #ElfTakeover. Well, if you do recall, then all you need to know is that it will be back!

For those of you wondering what on earth I’m rambling on about, I’ll explain a little more…

marty3Elf Takeover is all about helping each other with Elf on the Shelf. It’s a fun tradition, though sometimes we need a little inspiration from each other, as you need to keep it going for a few weeks! So we host the linky where you can share what your elf has been up to, and have a laugh at others’ ideas.

What is Elf on the Shelf? The elf ‘arrives’ on 1st December, and is Santa’s eyes and ears in our home. He first visited our home last year, so we then adopted and named him and the kids are eager to see him back here again this year. He spends his days here, seeing what’s what, and then flies back to the North Pole each night to fill Santa in on what’s been happening here. To be honest, I’m not keen on the idea of him telling tales and using him as a bit of a threat!, so for us it’s more about having him here and moving him around, which Boo adored last year. So, each morning, when the kids wake up, he’ll be back from the North Pole and have got himself into a different position. Sounds simple, but thinking up new places, bearing in mind he needs to be out of reach of the kids as if you touch him, he loses his magic, is challenging! He stays here until Christmas Eve, as he then goes back home with Santa.

If you’d like to share your elf’s antics each week, here’s the linky badge you’ll need to get involved. It’s just a bit of fun, and hopefully we’ll be helping to inspire and keep each other going! We’ll be pinning all posts to our #ElfTakeover Pinterest board, and every week, Mummy Muncher and I will each choose a favourite post from the previous week to highlight and tweet out.

The Reading Residence #ElfTakeover

The first linky will be on Tuesday 2nd December, and I’ll be hosting it right here. Life With Munchers and I will then take it in turns to host each Tuesday until 23rd December. You’re welcome to share whatever you like, a series of photos, ideas, how the elf’s faring in your home, an introduction to him/her, anything at all, as long as it’s elf love. You can also use the hash tag over on Instagram to join in and share your elf’s antics.

And if you like the sound of it, you’ve still time to get an elf!

Will you be home to an elf this year?

Word of the Week – 21/11/14

Thank you #WotW linkers! Great to have you joining us. 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. I comment on and tweet out every post, as long as you add my #WotW badge or a link back to here. It’s a fun and friendly linky, so please do be lovely and visit as many of the other blogs as you can and share with them your thoughts on their words and weeks.

My word of the week this week is:


Oh yes, it’s felt busy, active, and full! It’s been one of those where I have had to concentrate to be sure I know what day it is – you know the sort, don’t you?

It’s been a week filled with plenty of activity. At the weekend, we squeezed in shopping, Boo went to a party, gardening, seeing family and the Husband went off to play golf. Since then, I’ve had parcels arriving daily, due to the Christmas shopping I’ve been doing and various blogging assignments, so lots to sort and enjoy. We’ve also had workmen here giving us quotes for various bits and pieces we’re looking to do around the house, and it’s felt like there’s been one after another, and I’ve been juggling the visits with the dog barking at them the whole time and Little Man telling them to ‘go away’! I’ve been out and about with the kids, helping out at Boo’s school and visiting a lovely friend and her newborn son – I feel like I haven’t actually stopped all week! And Boo and I had a girls night out last night. It’s so very, very rare that she’s up after 7pm, especially on a school night, but we were out until after that time, at a blogging event – it’s stationery-based, I could not resist! We had a great time, Boo was very lively and excitable, so I’ll post all about that next week. Oh, and my least favourite ‘lively’ element of the week? Little Man has been lively when he should have been sleeping! Most nights this week have been bad ones, so I’ve been getting through the lively week, feeling a tad less lively than I usually do! To top it off, Boo’s been constantly singing and practising for her Christmas play, where she has a main part so we’ve lines to learn. I think I know every song now, and they’ve certainly offered us a lively soundtrack to our week! All together now, ‘My life is getting very busy….’ Oh yes, so apt!

What about you? What one word sums up your week best? Please grab the badge, link up and share. If the linky’s messing about, select the ‘generic’ image and it should allow you to enter then. Have tried wrangling with it and improving it, but it’s just not playing ball today!

The Reading Residence

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

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My Garden in November

I’ve actually been gardening. In November. Yes, I surprised myself, too.

I look out my window at the moment and am decidedly uninspired to potter about in the garden. It’s wet and damp and most of the colour has fled. But, a plant delivery that I’d placed back in August arrived, so needs must, and my lawn was irritating me. The Husband had given it it’s ‘final mow’ in September, but I had an inkling that that may have simply been it’s ‘penultimate mow’. With this week being the last for garden waste collections, and with Harry our hound tentatively stepping out there, lest he got any of his body wet on the grass, it felt right to do it once more. So I did. And it took a long time! My mum, bless her, planted up my new acquisitions (some toad lillies, a peony, and a rose – I so needed another rose!) whilst I mowed. And the mower jammed and clogged. I stopped, cleaned it out then mowed again. The mower jammed and clogged. I stopped, cleaned it out and then mowed again – you get the picture! The ground was very wet, the grass pretty long, but it’s done now, and looks so much better, especially as it cleared up some fallen leaves, too.

Looking at the flowers, it’s all about the pinks and purples out there now…

harlow carr

My Garden Nov '14 008

my garden flowers

My cut flower patch now looks more green and brown than anything else, though I know I’ve planted a whole load of bulbs in there, and will add seeds come springtime, so it still makes me smile when I look at it. And I love to see all of my climbers doing so well around the garden, and you can see a couple of them on the fence here. Oh, and Little Man happily photo bombing!

My Garden Nov '14 015

It was surprisingly, freakishly mild when I was doing all of this, and if it continues, I suspect my bulbs and plants will all be getting confused, so who knows what I’ll see out there soon!

How’s your garden growing?

Simple Wanderlust

Wall Create Canvas Review & Give-Away

When Wall Create got in touch with me offering me a canvas of my choice, I didn’t hesitate. I love having pictures of my children on canvas, so we already have a few, and I knew just where I wanted a new one for. I’m revamping my working area (I’d love to call it an office, but let’s be honest, it’s a little desk under the stairway in the hall that I’m seemingly always at!). As such, I wanted a lovely picture of my children to go above my PC on the wall, and that’s just what I got…..

wall create canvas print

It’s on a 40cm x 30cm canvas, and I totally adore it. This size photo canvas is currently priced at just under £20.

As I said, we’ve had a few canvases before, and truth be told, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect this time, as this is the largest print we’ve had, yet it’s actually also the cheapest. But I’m pleased to say that the quality is as good, if not better than others we’ve had. The print goes all the way round the side of the frame and it comes with hanging hooks….

wall create back

The colours and detail are just brilliant, and I love the bright blue of Little Man’s eyes….

wall create canvas close up

Delivery is from just under £5 in the UK, and takes 2-5 days. It arrived well packaged and perfectly intact. I unwrapped it somewhat eagerly and I was delighted with the result!

Wall Create have a variety of options available, from Photo Canvases like this one to Triptych Art Canvases to Pop Art Portraits. All are reasonably priced, and I can see them being great gift ideas with Christmas coming up. Wall Create offer a 14 day Return Policy if for some reason you aren’t happy with your purchase, and if you’re unsure about which photo to give someone, they also have gift vouchers allowing a little more choice.

So thanks to Wall Create, I now have a gorgeous photo of my Boo and Little Man in my work space, inspiring and making me smile.

Tempted to get one for yourself? Well, as it happens I do have one free canvas to give-away now to one lucky winner. All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning it is answer the question, letting me know what sort of photo you’d go for if you won, and enter your details into the rafflecopter. Give-away open to UK residents only, and closes at midnight 2nd December 2014. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think?

Disclosure: I received the canvas FOC for the purposes of this review, though all words and opinions remain my own. 

How’s Your Blog Looking?

Today I’m sharing top tips for improving your blog’s appearance, as shared by bloggers in my Blog Lowdown series

10 Tips for improving your blog's appearance

1. Make sure you can read everything at a glance – if your header or content font, size or colour choices isn’t easily readable then people won’t hang around to read it. (Mama Geek)

2. Categorise, categorise, categorise! Make your blog easy to navigate by categorising and using drop down menus. (Life With Munchers)

3. Don’t alienate readers. Check Google Analytics to see what browsers and devices people read your blog on and make sure it works on those that are the most popular. (Life With Munchers)

4. Make sure your social buttons are easy to find on your blog. Also customize your Twitter share button on your posts in order that your Twitter name/handle is automatically included. Tarana at Sand in My Toes has a great post explaining how to do this. (Over There to Here)

5. Make it super easy to navigate – I’ve actually visited blogs recently where I’ve struggled to find any posts past the few displayed as part of their home page. Readers need to be able to find what they want, quickly. A clearly visible search box helps with this too. (Mama Geek)

6. Include large and interesting images in your blog posts – or even graphics – particularly if you want your post to be shared in social media and encourage interaction. (Over There to Here)

7. Make use of plugins and built in functions to make your life easier so you can concentrate on creating great content. For example, instead of having a menu item linking to a page of manually updated lists of posts, link to a category page for those posts instead, or use a plugin to display the list for you. (Mama Geek)

8. Take as many photos as possible on a daily basis as you never know when you’ll need them for a blog post. (My Monkeys Don’t Sit Still)

9. When you are using images, consider the size… Full width images can occasionally take longer to load, but are much more effective. Small images do not have the same impact, and can actually be difficult to make out at all, especially if it’s a collage… It may be my advancing age (!) but it’s worth a preview before you hit publish, and choosing ‘large’ instead of a 300×300 box. (Mum Turned Mom)

10. If you can afford to, invest in a good camera. A lot of my posts are quite photo heavy, and taking a good picture is important to me. I have had a lot of comments on pictures, and it seems that readers enjoy them. Not only that, they add life to your reviews, and they can also capture some priceless family memories much better than words can. (Family Fever)

I love all of these tips, and have checked on all of them for my own blog! I do think it’s easy to get caught up in the writing (which is pretty important!) and not notice that it’s not all that reader-friendly. Hopefully, these tips will help, and I’d echo the photography comments, too. That’s why I ran my photography basics series, as it really helped me to improve my posts and I now enjoy photography, too!

To read the full interviews with any of the bloggers mentioned, simply search for them in my side bar and their full Blog Lowdown post will come up for you.

What tips would you add?

Other posts you may like…
10 Tips for Participating in Blog Linkies
10 Top Social Media Tips From Bloggers
My Top 20 Tips for Bloggers
How to Write a Brilliant ‘About Me’ Page
Top 10 Tips on Writing Blog Posts


Visit The Reading Residence’s profile on Pinterest.

The Q&A Meme

The lovely Sophie, over at Sophie Is has tagged me to share a few answers to her questions with you, in the Q&A meme, so I thought I’d have a go and reveal all…!

Where in the world would you most like to be right now?

Well, always anywhere that my family are, and fortunately that’s right here! But if we could all be transported, it’d be to Las Vegas, stood outside the Bellagio hotel, watching the fountains show. I was just showing the kids a YouTube clip of it, and telling them why the Husband and I like the song This Kiss – brings back some great memories, and it’d be fabulous to show it to the children, too. And it’d be sunny. And then I could eat cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. And then I could go and gamble….! Oh, to dream….!

What do you love most about having your blog?

It gives me focus, somewhere to channel my endless ideas and energy, it charts my kids’ growing up, it’s brought me so many fabulous review opportunities and I’ve made some truly lovely friends through it, some I’ve met in person, others I love ‘knowing’ through the on-line world. So, really, I love pretty much everything about it!

Who is the person that you most admire?

My mum. She’s a great mum, always has been, and is now a fabulous nanny, too. She’s come through a very painful divorce, beaten cancer, handled the grief of all of her family (her mum and two brothers) dying within six months of one another, and still, still, I know she’d put my brother and I first in a heartbeat and her problems pale into comparison if we ever need her. I know, with absolutely certainty, that she would do anything for me, and is always here when I need her. She’s loyal to her many friends, she can turn her hand to pretty much anything and, well, she’s my mum. I’m proud of her.

What keeps you awake at night?

Other than Little Man getting up repeatedly, you mean?! To be honest, as long as the children sleep, then I tend to, though I can be kept awake by a book. I so often do that thing of staying up later than I know I should, as the kids will invariably have me up by 6, but I just want to read that little bit more. I do it night after night until I’m exhausted. When will I learn?!

What is your all-time favourite breakfast?

Hmm. If I’m home, probably croissants and orange juice, but the ‘all-time’ would be connected to the luxury of not making it, as I do love a hotel breakfast – ooh, the decadence!

Which song makes you smile every time you hear it?

There are a few that will always have me happy and singing along, such as I Say a Little Prayer, Burning Love, My Life and I’m Your Man (all totally current hits, of course!) and then tracks like Let it Go and Gangnam Style, because I immediately picture Boo dancing and singing along to them!

If you could go back and give one piece of advice to your fifteen year old self, what would it be?

As if I’d have listened! I think in your teens, it’s about making mistakes and then taking something from them, so I have few regrets, but plenty of learns!

OK, so now it’s my turn to tag a few bloggers, and I’d like to ask them these very same questions, as I enjoyed answering them. So, I tag…

Beth at Twinderelmo

Sian at Potty Mouthed Mummy

Melissa at Two Little Humans and Me

Holly at Full of Beans and Sausages

Donna at Redhead Babyled

Join in if you fancy it, too! Would any of your answers be similar to mine?

the q&a meme

Captivating Cannock Chase

On a sunny November’s day, the kids don’t want to be trapped inside, they want to be out, running free. We’re lucky to be surrounded by plenty of parks, forests and beautiful National Trust sites. In fact, on days like this, the difficulty is often in choosing where to go, rather than struggling to come up with one place. The children want to chase about, climb and jump, chat about and collect ‘nature’ and anywhere will do for them, they’re not fussy. But given a choice, I am. I like to go somewhere beautiful and natural. So last week we went to one of my favourite places to stroll (well, I stroll, Little Man and Boo run wild!), nearby Cannock Chase….

Cannock Chase Nov 14 016

Cannock Chase Nov 14 009

Cannock Chase Nov 14 030

Cannock Chase Nov 14 011

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Cannock Chase Nov 14 015

Cannock Chase Nov 14 008

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Cannock Chase Nov 14 018

They currently have The Gruffalo’s Child trail on, which adds a little something to the trip, and though many of the cut-outs and trail were the same as The Gruffalo trail that we did earlier this year, the children still adored spotting all of the creatures in the woods, and Boo and I had fun trying out the tasks on each board, such as looking for shapes in the forest around us, and pretending to be the animals from the story.

I love the pine smells that assail you as you walk around. I love the way the sunlight filters through the treetops. It’s a beautiful place, it feels peaceful and calming even when it’s busy, and as with much of the great outdoors, it’s free.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Word of the Week – 14/11/14

Thank you #WotW linkers! Great to have you joining us. 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. I comment on and tweet out every post, as long as you add my #WotW badge or a link back to here. It’s a fun and friendly linky, so please do be lovely and visit as many of the other blogs as you can and share with them your thoughts on their words and weeks.

My word of the week this week is:


Yes, yes, I do know it’s only mid-November, do not fear, I’ve not gone mad! But, Christmas has to be my word this week, as it’s definitely dominated my activities and thoughts…

My Christmas shopping is nearly complete, though I’ve yet to purchase anything for the Husband. I’m sure he’ll let me know what he wants soon enough. I’ve bought advent calendars, both papery and chocolatey in the past couple of weeks. The TV adverts have well and truly kicked in – do they wait until Bonfire Night’s over and then go for it? Is there a secret date that all retailers know about to do this?! And I do adore the John Lewis ad, being a fan of penguins. Boo has written her Dear Santa letter (I also shared my top picks on where to get lovely Dear Santa sets this week, both in the shops and free printables), as she wants to ensure he gets it in enough time to be certain she gets her wish! We’ve also started writing her class Christmas cards, as I figure she’s only going to want to do one or two every couple of evenings, so best get cracking now! On the blog front, we’ve had two invites to lovely days out and events where the children will get to meet Santa (I am so looking forward to those and sharing them with you), along with having a fair few people getting in touch interested in gift guide and toy collaborations in the run up to Christmas. And, well, I’m just feeling it now. It’s hit me this week, and I’m hoping it’s a good one this year, especially after last year’s awful one. And this week, I also bought The Muppet Christmas Carol soundtrack. If you read about Muppet Christmas Carol Day last year, you’ll know how important this is!

What about you? What one word sums up your week best? Please grab the badge, link up and share.

The Reading Residence

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

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