Word of the Week 30/1/15

Hello and welcome to Word of the Week! It’s that time again where I sum up my week in a word, and invite others to do the same. I do enjoy pausing and thinking back over my week, and looking for an overriding theme. And I thank those of you that take the time to do the same and then link up with me here. It’s a pleasure to have you all.

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. 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. I do comment on every entry to the linky, and if you add the Word of the Week badge to your post to help spread the ‘word’, I also tweet them out.

My word of the week this week is:

productive

It’s been a good week for getting things done. You know, those niggling things, some big, some small, that I needed to get round to. Well, at last, this week I have! So in no particular order…

I started running – hooray! For exercise, that is, and it’s still at the stage where my entire body aches.
– Boo had her first swimming lesson. Getting her swimming has been on my radar for a long time since she had a disastrous start as a toddler and hated her swim lessons. It’s just been a case of trying to find a suitable time, the right class and the right venue. Fortunately, one of her friend’s mums mentioned that her son was starting on Saturday and it was perfect for us, so I booked her straight in last week, and she went to her first lesson on Saturday. She loved it! It was so lovely to see her enjoying it, and I feel like a huge box has been ticked there.
– We bought and installed a new post box. Well, the Husband installed it. After living here for nearly ten years, it finally happened. I lost the post box key! I searched high and low before conceding that I may have thrown it in the bin, so a new one was ordered, it is now up so I needn’t fear the postman wedging a huge envelope in the old one and blocking up my post supply, and I have a spare key, too!
– I’ve given the bathroom a makeover. We had our bathroom refitted several years ago, and though I still like it, it’s been looking a little tired. So this week, we ordered some new flooring, which has already been fitted, and got a few new accessories and shelving up, along with the excitement of digging out the old sealant (how do you keep mould off those things?) and redoing it so it all looks sparkly clean and fresh again.
– I finally, finally, completed my tax return! Yes, I left it a little late and it actually didn’t take me long to do either, but I’d been putting it off, and now it is done.
– I arranged several lovely blog give-aways for you all. I love treating my readers, so I’d been meaning to sort this at the start of the month, but I got there in the end, and there are now several running here – do take a peek!

Of course, all of this productivity has me yearning to get more things done, so my list continues to grow…!

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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100 Family Adventures Review & Give-Away

When I first heard about new book, 100 Family Adventures by the Meek Family, I suspected it was one for us and one that my readers would be interested in, too…

100 family adventures

100 Family Adventures provides a valuable resource bank of tried and tested outdoor activities to enjoy with children, swapping ‘screen time’ for ‘green time’. Particularly inspiring for people who want to get started, but don’t know how, the book shows how any family, anywhere in the country, can enjoy time together outdoors.

Activities are grouped into themes: Woodland, Water, Close to Home, Hills and Mountains, Exploring, By the Sea, Extreme Weather. Within each section is a range in difficulty, from making a rope swing to scrambling up a stream, from spending a day without electricity to going on a charity bike ride, from exploring a rockpool to camping on an uninhabited island.

Packed with inspiring photos, sensible but enthusiastic instructions from parents Tim and Kerry combine with remarks and advice (and jokes!) from children Amy and Ella.

page from 100 family AdventuresThere’s a huge range of activities here. Some of them I think my kids are too young for, some of them I think I’m not ready for!, and some of them are perfect for us to add an extra element of adventure to an outing. Boo’s had a good look through it. She now has grand plans of climbing a mountain, sailing, snorkelling and sleeping in a wood. In truth, we’re likely to do a few of the simpler things first! I think things like discovering local history, visiting a landmark, a no-screen day and tracking and casting animal footprints will be manageable for us and fun to do. When we go away, I’d love to take the kids crabbing and rock pooling, both things that I enjoyed as a child, so it’ll be fun to introduce my two to the delights. As you can tell from these ideas, there is a good range of suggestions in here, so something for the average family, and then the more adventurous, too.

I like the layout of the book. It’s split into the 7 sections mentioned above and each adventure is listed at the beginning, along with a little box next to it for you to pop a tick in it once you’ve done it. There’s then a double page for every idea, which includes the details, photos of the family and a very useful tips and considerations section. There are jokes from Ella sprinkled throughout, ‘did you know?’ fact boxes and Amy shares her thoughts on each activity.

page from 100 family Adventures 1100 Family Adventures has a really inspirational feel to it, with something for everyone. It also feels very accessible, written clearly and always with a sense of fun, alongside tips for ensuring safety. I like that it’s a whole family affair, and there are many photos of the Meek family throughout the book, sharing their experiences with us. I can see us dipping in and out of this, and using it for fresh ideas to spend quality family time together. I may just need to point Boo in the direction of building a den or taking a night walk before we end up kayaking! Stacks of great suggestions here, I hope to get ticking some boxes each and every year from now on.

The book is published by Frances Lincoln and will be available to buy from 5th March.

I do have one copy of 100 Family Adventures available for one of my readers to win! To be in with a chance of winning it, simply enter using the rafflecopter below. Give-away closes at midnight on 28th February 2015, and is open to UK entrants only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What appeals to you most about this book?

Papery Peep January 2015

Whoop, whoop, it’s Papery Peep time! Come and share your paper with me! This is a monthly linky, part of my #BringBackPaper series. This month, I’ll update you on my Read Write Create challenge,  but first, some new acquisitions…

OK, I may, may have popped into Paperchase again. I’m starting to think I should take out shares in that company! Anyhoo, I bought this little bundle….

january stationery purchases

All for a bargain £9.02! Oh yes, that was a happy day for me!

Next up, is my January activity. How did you guys get on with this one? It was to send some happy mail, and if you already do this regularly, to find someone else and send some more! Well, I managed this one on two counts this month. First up, I sent out a happy little bundle of letters to some of my regular correspondents, and I also added a little surprise note and goodies to a friend, the very lovely BrummyMummyof2…

happy mail January

I then sent a little more. After sharing with you Send a Smile in the Post with Post Pals, I knew I had to get involved. If you’ve not read this one yet, please do pop over and take a look. I’m pleased to say that many of you tell me you’ve been inspired by it and will be sending post, too. For my part, I sent out my first little parcel last week…

sending a smile

I do hope it did raise a smile with the gorgeous recipients.

Of course, this activity also ticks off this month’s ‘Write’ element of my monthly Read Write Create challenge. In addition to these letters, I have been completing my One Line A Day journal each evening, and am finding I am now remembering to do it easily enough! I have also been filling in my Book Journal, as I have read a few books this month, ticking off my ‘Read’…

books read in january

I enjoyed reading a variety of genres this month, and of the 5 books, 4 of the authors are new ones to me, too. I’d say I most enjoyed Prophecy, if ‘enjoyed’ is the right word for it? I whizzed through that in a couple of days, and it is a spooky one! I least enjoyed The Dressmaker. Despite it drawing me in beautifully initially, I found the characters began to exasperate me mid-way through and the ending was disappointing. I’m looking forward to Maggie Fenton releasing more books, as this was her debut and I’m keen to read more, and I’ll be looking out for more Tess Gerritsen from now on. I’ve read several Lackberg’s and have a couple more in my reading pile, too.

And then to ‘Create’. I found this a little trickier than the other two, but I was determined. So what did I come up with? A colouring book. An adult colouring book, which has been so calming and restful, I see this being a new habit for life!

dream catcher colouring book

So come on, tell me about your month in paper? Have you had any lovely buys, read great books, been on papery trips, received some gorgeous snail mail or taken part in the #BringBackPaper challenges? Whatever it is, if it’s papery, I want to read about it! Write your post, grab the badge from my sidebar, link up, and please do visit and comment on other linked up posts, too. Enjoy!

Linky closes at midnight 3rd February 2015

Do use the #BringBackPaper hash tag over on Twitter and Instagram to share what you’re up to, too. And remember to look out for details of next month’s #BringBackPaper challenge here next week, the stationery swap…

The Reading Residence

Red Candy Top Picks & Give-Away

The lovely people at Red Candy got in touch with me recently, alerting me to their rather gorgeous products. Trouble is, I’ve lost a fair bit of time this week browsing over there!

They have Kitchen, Dining and Living sections, and in every single one, there are things that I want! I would love these for our Kitchen…

Kitchen Red Candy

I particularly like this Alessi Big Love Ice Cream Bowl from the Dining section…

alessi-big-love-ice-cream-bowl-fuchsia-3

And from Living, I want….

Living RedCandy

You can see why I’ve lost time browsing there now, can’t you? I also have a great give-away now for you, too. I have one of these fun Umbra Photo Frames up for grabs…

Umbra Motto black

Available in black and white, and the winner can choose which colour they’d prefer. So gorgeous! To be in with a chance of winning this, simply tell us your favourite product from the Red Candy range in the comments below, and do use the rafflecopter for entry. Competition is open to UK entrants only, aged 18 and over, and it closes at midnight 19th February 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

What’s your favourite item from the Red Candy range?

I Am Running!

OK, it’s happening here. I am throwing myself headlong back into the world of proper physical exercise. Now, I say ‘back into the world’ which is perhaps a teeny bit misleading, as it does infer that in some previous life I was all about exercise. I was not.

At school, I was always somewhere around the middle for team picks, and then as soon as I was old enough to get out of PE, I would! At some point in my twenties I got into going to the gym, and I do recall actually enjoying that for a time, but then jobs changed, time to get there became harder as my career took over, and before I knew it my exercise was walking to and from car parks. I had a brief spell, shortly before I got pregnant with Boo where I took up running, and I did enjoy it. I ran at 5.30-6am-ish and there was a real sense of peace going out at that time of the day, whilst most people were still abed. But then my knees began to hurt and then my pregnancy became apparent, so I stopped. Since then, I’ve kept fit running about after two little ones, and enjoying plenty of family walks, but with Boo now at school, even that has diminished somewhat, and as I’m feeling the Christmas excess pounds, it’s the right time to get out there again.

I Am Running

I will run. There are no costly gym memberships, no set times I need to be somewhere, no-one else relying on me. That all works for me. I feel odd, a bit of a fraud, as I don’t really ‘do’ exercise, but, thinking back to my ‘So Who Are You’ post, I resolutely refuse to be defined by the me that has been until now. Who says I can’t be a runner? Who says I can’t find this new hobby, love it, and continue to be running a decade or two from now? Well, I may have given up in a month’s time, I may be running marathons next year, I just won’t know unless I try, though, will I?

I have my new Asics, I have the Couch to 5K app, and I have that first run under my belt now. I won’t lie and tell you that that was pretty. Around halfway into it, I started to wonder whether I would survive. I was breathing hard, could feel the heat from my face, my head was pounding, and I was weaving a little over the pavement on the final stretch. I did tell you I was unfit! But, I did make it, I did survive, and weirdly, I find myself looking forward to my next run tomorrow. So wish me luck!

Bye Bye, Baby Days…

My baby boy is growing up. He’s nearly 29 months now, a fully-fledged toddler. The baby days are ending. We have potty training on the agenda for this year, though to be honest, I’m in no desperate rush with that one. He starts pre-school this September, two days a week, and I think that will be really good for him, a chance for him to assert a little independence. As he grows, life becomes easier. He communicates very well now, there’s little that he cannot say, and he certainly understands what we say. Whether he accedes to it…well, that’s a different matter! He and Boo play very well together, creating imaginary worlds that they both immerse themselves within, alternating between concentrating on the tale that they’re weaving, and laughing uproariously. Laughter is the soundtrack to my days when I have the two of them about, and what better soundtrack could I ask for?

So, no, I don’t look back longingly at the baby days. I do not get broody when friends have babies, I’m simply very happy for them, as I know the fun that they have in store. I do not envy them the breastfeeding, the weaning, the first words, the first steps. It’s all exciting, but I am looking forward now, content that our family feels complete. But, there is one thing that I will miss, that will indicate that final toll of babyhood, and I’m really not looking forward to it. The nap.

little man napping

Now, I need this naptime, as that’s when I get most of my blog work done. So yes, it’s a handy thing to have! But it’s not simply for that reason that I do not want it to end.

I love the post-nap moments.

When my son wakes from his nap, he calls out for me. He never gets out of bed, he simply sits up and calls for me. When I duly arrive, summoned from whatever task I was furiously attempting to complete before this moment, he grins. He snuggles straight back down and waits for me to get into bed with him. We cuddle, silently. Then as he comes round a little, his mind starts ticking and he either scampers out of bed to bring back a book for me to read to him, or he creates his own story. The other day, the dinosaurs were in my bedroom, then they were in the bathroom, then finally, they breached our defences and were in Little Man’s room. He roared at them to get away, he fed the baby dinosaurs Weetabix to keep them happy, and the big dinosaurs were scared off with a particularly aggressive rendition of the Gigglebiz theme tune. Oh, to get into his mind!

I need these moments. No matter the sort of day I’m having by this point, as soon as I walk into that room and catch sight of that welcoming grin, the stresses recede and it’s all about that precious time. It’s actually one of the few times each day that I don’t have my phone glued to me, either. I always leave it downstairs for this special time, no distractions.

Boo stopped napping at around this age, though she’d been difficult to get off to sleep sometimes for several months before she stopped. Little Man is very happy to go off for his nap every day, never fights it, and always sleeps. I only hope that this is a sign he’ll be having them for a while longer, as I am just not ready to give up our slumber-some cuddles yet.

the ordinary moments

 

 

 

KD UK Toy Give-Away

As promised, here’s the second give-away for you today! This time it’s from the fabulous people at KD UK, and I have two great toys up for grabs.

As you may know, I’m an ambassador for KD UK, and so I do bring you news and reviews from them from time to time. Here are a few of their toys that we’ve enjoyed playing with here, and you can read our reviews by clicking on the product names…

Disney Frozen My Smartphone

Little Man on the Frozen phone

Peppa Pig Tablet

peppa pig tablet and Boo

Something Special Mr Tumble’s Alphabet

something special mr tumble's alphabet 3

And I now have these two toys available for one lucky person to win!

Palace Pets Magic Screen Tablet
S14620GB_Palace Pets Magic Screen Tablet unboxed 300dpi

A beautiful magical screen tablet featuring all the princesses and their Palace Pet friends.
Little ones can move the slider to magically reveal a new screen with even more characters. Four activities help children to learn with their favourite princesses and pets.
Develop knowledge of colours, numbers and fun facts in the game modes – Discovery, Find, Colours and Match. With enchanting music and extra sensitive contacts for little hands.

Peppa Pig’s First Discovery Tablet
S1137UK_unit2_300 dpi_28052014

This interactive and colourful first tablet helps little ones learn while they play with the help of Peppa Pig!
With a quiz mode and a discovery mode to encourage learning of colours, numbers, letters, characters and musical instruments.
The sleek, smooth, touch sensitive screen features 27 contacts inluding characters from the ever popular show. Plus the First Discovery Tablet features the voice of Peppa Pig and funny sounds!

Thanks, KD UK! So to be in with a chance of winning these two (one person will win both toys) simply enter using the rafflecopter below. Give-away is open to UK entrants only, aged 18 and over, and ends 16th February 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Which of KD UK’s toys is your favourite?

Snuggle Up Blanket Give-Away

OK, it’s cold and dreary and January. So, I thought it’d be nice to cheer ourselves up with a couple of give-aways on the blog today – hooray! I do like offering you guys the chance to win a little something, so here’s the first, and keep your eyes peeled for another later on…

This first one is just perfect for this month. Thanks to Heat Holders, I have a Snuggle Up blanket up for grabs…

BLACK  blanket

(Please note, the prize blanket colour may vary)

The Heat Holders ‘Snuggle Up’ Thermal Blanket is a luxuriously soft fur fleece called Heatweaver, that has been developed with the main intention of being efficient at retaining heat, which is why it has an official tog rating of 1.4 – it’s measurably warmer to the touch.

The Heat Holders Snuggle Up Thermal Blanket is a big 180 x 200cm so you can wrap up warmly in it on those chilly evenings. It’s incredibly soft and very easy to look after, as it’s fully machine washable. So with heating costs rising, don’t get cold – get a Heat Holders Snuggle Up Thermal Blanket!

I’m writing this post whilst it’s chilly outside, and so I really want one of these! To be in with a chance of winning it, simply answer the rafflecopter question by leaving a comment below, and then use the rafflecopter for other entries. The give-away is open to UK entrants only, aged 18 and over, and it closes at midnight 11th February 2015. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Where would you snuggle up?

Word of the Week 23/1/15

It’s that time again where I sum up my week in a word, and invite others to do the same. I do enjoy pausing and thinking back over my week, and looking for an overriding theme. And I thank those of you that take the time to do the same and then link up with me here. It’s a pleasure to have you all.

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. 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. I do comment on every entry to the linky, and if you add the Word of the Week badge to your post to help spread the ‘word’, I also tweet them out.

My word of the week this week is:

gigglebiz

Little Man’s latest obsession. Are you familiar with this show? For those of you who are, you’re feeling for me right now, aren’t you? For those of you who aren’t aware of it, it’s a CBeebies programme, a ‘comedy’ sketch show for children, featuring Justin of Something Special and Justin’s House fame. Little Man loves it, LOVES it, I tell you. He’ll talk to me about it as he’s drowsily waking up in the morning, he sings it really loudly from his pushchair on the school run, he talks to people about the characters and the hilarious things that they get up to, and yes, he watches it. Why watch any other shows when you can just watch Gigglebiz on repeat, hey? And he’ll get upset if others don’t enjoy it, too, so my poor 18 year-old nephew has been subjected to this, Boo has to watch it far more than she would choose to, and me? I just blank it out now! Fortunately, he’s also really into his painting at the moment, so I manage to lure him away to paint each day, or we simply leave the house! Good job I adore my son…. ;-)

Oh, and to give you a better flavour for it, this is the soundtrack to my week…

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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Just No Kindle, No….

I make no secret of the fact that I like paper here. I read a fair bit, and I like to hold a book in my hands to do so, an actual book. And I really can’t see that changing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can see the appeal of a Kindle. The ability to store books in there, try free books and instantly have a new book at my fingertips are all very appealing. But it’s not enough.

I bought the Husband a Kindle for Christmas. He loves it and it is absolutely perfect for him. He never re-reads a book or gets attached to them feeling the need to keep them. He’s moaned in the past about a book being too large, too thick, too weighty, his Kindle never is. On beginning a new book, he always checks the typeset on the inside cover (do you do that? I didn’t even know it was there and I’ve read a lot of books!). Anyway, he has font preferences to read in, yes he does, and his Kindle allows him to select them. So yes, it’s the perfect gift for him and he’s happy with it.

On it’s arrival, I felt a flicker of interest when he was looking at the free and on sale ebooks available. I do love a book, and a bargain book is all the more tempting! But it still lacked that certain something that a paper book has. I struggle to put it into words, so I can only hope that others can understand what I mean. That others walk into book shops and feel excited, eyes flitting everywhere taking in all of the interesting covers and smells, desperate to explore. So, tempting though it was, it failed to sway me.

And then it happened, then came the nail in the e-reader coffin as far as I am concerned. Again, it’s something that’s a huge hit with the Husband, but for me, it’s an absolute no-no.

Just No, Kindle, No!

He cheerfully showed me how many minutes it predicted it would take him until the end of his current chapter, and then how far he now is into the book, as a percentage. He was quite enamoured with this gadgetry. Saw it as a real plus, actually.

Me? Just no, no, no! When I read a book, I sink into it. The stories are woven around me, the words and worlds are there for me to escape into, to curl up with. It’s an art, a tale, and maths and technology have no part in it. I’m comfortable with them, don’t get me wrong – I am a blogger, of course – but they have little place in my reading. You might be thinking, just ignore them, fair point, I could do that. But that’s not quite it. It’s just those final things that killed it for me. Tipped me over the edge where I was already teetering, and so I have contentedly fallen back into my papery world, with no more doubts that I might be missing something. I will hold onto my books, thank you.

So fellow readers, tell me, where do you sit on this one? I suspect that I am archaic and in the minority, so I will await the onslaught of Kindle love as soon as I hit publish…!

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