O5rcB_NXbIeHbJV7JFNcdfqL-vY Mummy From The Heart...

Monday, 28 July 2014

Black and White Project

For the first time I'm linking up with Charly over at PODcast for her new linky. I love taking black and white photos but I've not done it as much just recently, hopefully this will give me a kick up the bum.

Also I've enjoyed tonight experimenting and taking photos that were taken in colour and changing them over, I would not have thought to do this before but it has been enlightening.

So here is one taken in B&W last weekend at a beach BBQ, Miss M has so much attitude in the photo and it captures her perfectly.


Then this one was taken in colour and the flower is a beautiful pink normally and I'm undecided about it in B&W but I do like how the flower still pops out, even without the colour.


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Thursday, 24 July 2014

An evening stroll (A year in photos - week 30)

Yay for the school holidays, I am loving the fact that the kids can stay up late and have fun. There are serious benefits of living in a community of 70 and having 220 acres to explore. JJ has been spending more and more time with our young adult volunteers going for walks, chilling, playing pool and even having an outdoor movie night, which just looked awesome. How many 10 year olds can say they stayed up until gone 11pm and watched a movie under the stars surrounded by twinkle lights with about thirty 18-25 year olds?

One of the things I plan to do regularly is go for an evening stroll round our grounds with one of the kids. Miss E and I went for one earlier this week and it was so good to have that one-on-one time. We chatted about everything and nothing and both of us with our cameras enjoyed the silence too.

We started on the main terrace and headed out to the woods above front water.

This was growing as a weed but looked glorious.

Miss E loves to find a large stick each time we go walking


Walk nearly completed and we get to watch the sun go down over Ashburnham, with the stunning swans swimming past.

A few moments after this we had tears as I had lost her beloved pheasant feather than she had found.


Then as we reached home the sun literally disappeared over the hill, but that beautiful pink sky meant a fabulous next day.

Thanks for coming on our evening stroll with us.  Mich and Miss E xxx

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

How does your garden grow - July

This months How Does Your Garden Grow post is all about the walled garden here at my home. Since late may we have been having a bumper crop of cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes and the like.  It all tastes so much better when it is grown organically and of course the fact that I don't actually have to tend to it is a big plus point from my point of view.  I get to do the best bit - eat it!








Linking up with Annie over at Manneskjur.
Manneskjur
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Monday, 21 July 2014

Start your day the Dolce Gusto Way... #DolceGustoBlogger


My morning routine has taken a turn for the better over the last couple of weeks.  In days gone by I have always started the day with a large cup of tea but now it is all about the coffee, more specifically cappuccino if I'm honest.

I've always liked coffee but I've never been able to make a cup as good as those you get when out but now I do get a really decent cappuccino and for a fraction of the price. Actually my morning cappuccino now costs me about 47p per cup (or £3.77 for a box of 8) and I've ordered the Cafe Au Lait with this weeks shopping and they are even more cost efficient as I need just one pod to make a cup and that is 24p for a seriously well brewed cup of coffee.

So what am I using to make my delicious coffee?  A NESCAFE Dolce Gusto Mini Me machine made by quality manufacturer De'Longhi.  I see these retail for £59.99 at John Lewis and I think that is a good price for a machine with a 2 year warranty that has no fuss required. I just op in the pod of my choosing, select the volume I want (to match that suggested or to my own desire) and hey presto the machine regulates the pressure to ensure I have my coffee come out just the way I like it, be that a strong and sultry espresso or a frothy Latte Macchiato.


The Thermoblock heating system means that the cold water I put into the machine is heated in under a minute and thus I have drinks quicker than when I use a regular kettle! It is also really good that the machine kicks into standby mode after 5 minutes of inactivity and thus even if I have forgotten to switch it off it is energy efficient and safe.

I'm trying to limit myself to one cup a day as I like to add sugar to coffee and the regular cappuccino is 84 calories per cup although I've also spotted today there is a light version which is just 20 calories so I'll be trying that next. It's funny that I'm thinking about the calories when you look at the next picture though as I have found the cappuccino is super with cake!


I'll tell you what else is pretty cool, it is the Facebook page for NESCAFE Dolce Gusto as there is a real community feel there, you can chat, upload photos, be in with a chance to win pods, give feedback and even find fabulous recipes like this one below, I WILL be making this very soon...


They have also launched a new fun app called The Pod and this allows you to play games and collect stamps for fun and there is also the chance to win prizes when you complete the mini tasks to earn the stamps. There is nothing laborious, it might just be giving your feedback on literally one question or saying what you favourite pod is etc.

It is always good to have a browse and see what is about and I've just found out that there is a code in each one of my pod boxes and by entering these on the website I can be in with a chance to win a years free coffee - result!

Anyway I'm sure this will be the first of many NESCAFE Dolce Gusto posts as I've been selected to be a #DolceGustoblogger and that means I will get to try out all sorts of flavours and fun things.

Disclosure:  The mini me machine and a starter pack was sent to me free of charge for the purpose of trying out the products and writing this post. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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Sunday, 20 July 2014

A year in photos - weeks 27-29

I've been sitting on the edge of the blogging scene in recent weeks and this has suited me just fine.  Life is busy and the most important thing I can do is live it and enjoy it, not just write about it. I've been trying hard to stay chilled and to live in the moment instead of projecting and worrying about what might happen.

Here is what we have been up to in the last 3 weeks (and when I looked through my photos there was a serious lack of images in comparison to other times so I'm taking that as a good sign that I've been having some down time and not fretting about taking photos) -

A day with our family and also some of the wider Ashburnham family to Birling Gap and Seven Sisters cliffs. Lots of walking and fun.


Capturing a Mummy and daughters selfie, look at the joy in their faces - priceless.


A day to a local play park and gardens. It was a naff place in all honesty but we still had a nice time playing games together like crazy golf and air hockey.


Fun with our pastoral group, getting to know each other and playing games. It is such a privilege to be part of the lives of so many young people.


This next picture probably sums up best what I have been up to most in the last couple of weeks and that has been volunteering and working where I live. I've really enjoyed working in bookings, doing a couple of hour stints in the tea room and also doing the social media stuff. It is the tea rooms 1st birthday this weekend and I thought this was a good capture of the current staff.


It was the girls birthday this last week and they are looking very grown up and gorgeous. We had a fun party for them and it was super that my parents could be there.




I've also had some good times out with my husband thanks to some wonderful babysitters, we went to a party and for an Indian and then out for lunch and cake another time. It makes such a difference when you can chat without interruption.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
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Saturday, 19 July 2014

Personal Planners - Review and #Giveaway

I've never really sat and thought about how much time and effort it takes to organise a family of five. I think we have quite a traditional set-up in that I organise the family holidays, the days out, the kids clubs, the social stuff, the shopping, the insurance policies etc and I'm really happy to do that as I'm a natural organiser and I like to be on top of things.

In this day and age it seems most people opt to use online diaries and apps now to manage what they are up to and I have tried this, really I have, but for some reason it is just not floating my boat.  I've had many successful years at work where I have used my calendar for appointments, reminders and everything else that goes with working in a busy office but for my private life I still like to have a calendar on the wall and a diary I can write in.  Go on, go ahead and call me old fashioned, I don't mind. I prefer to call it classic.

Small Personal Planner
At BritMums Live in 2013 a company called Personal Planner provided notebooks for all the attendees and I took one of those pretty pale pink pads home, the paper is thick and lightly lined, the spiral binding is firm and quality and there is also a thick plastic cover and elastic band to keep it closed.  This was firmly the start of a love affair.

They also provided a free code to go online and order a planner of your choosing. I opted for a small 4.3" x 5.5" planner and the great thing is you can choose when it starts, so whatever time of year you order you get the most from it. When my planner ran out in June this year I contacted Personal Planner and asked them if they would like me to review one and here I am with my beautiful new planner, which is just the right size to carry in my handbag and carry about with me every day.

Here is this years planner, that I designed just for me -


It is really easy online to get your planner just how you want it, there are 4 different sizes available, all with the same high quality finish and thick, luxurious pages. You got though the steps of choosing your cover, the wording, how you want the pages to look, whether you want some note pages, musical score pages, graphs pages or loads of others.

There are so many options, do you want somewhere to log your personal training, the weather, if you are working? They are all available. You can also add in personalised dates and these will be saved for when you order again in future years. I kept mine pretty simple as that is how I like it and I choose a nice green ruler to match my cover.  I also went for an optional pink pen so I can look really twee and completely match!


The ordering was easy and the price for the small planner is £14.95 plus £2.95 delivery so it is not the cheapest out there but then who wants cheap. I want something I can bash about in my bag for a year and it still looks good and I know this is it, as that is exactly what happened last year, no pages falling out, or cheap metal spirals getting out of shape.

Wall Planner
This is a new product which I've not seen before and it is fabulous. Again you customise it to how you fancy. I used one of my macro flower photos on the front and then inside added a column for myself, my husband, our son and one for the girls and could add a little photo of each of us. I liked that I could also colour coordinate each of them as that makes it really visually easy and appealing. The planner shows a week to view so never again do I have to try and cram so much writing in a tiny space like I do on a month to view calendar. You can hang it so you can just see one week or two at a time, it depends on your preference and space, each page is 12" x 12".

Each product was delivered to me separately and in a cardboard box, the planner arrived in pristine condition but the wall planner cardboard was a bit less solid and one corner was bent, which did not really bother me but if it was a gift and I had paid £24.95 plus postage for it, I would want it to be perfect.

From the point of order and payment it takes about 2 weeks for your planner to arrive with you, so you need to factor this in when you order but it is clear on the website.
In all I'm really happy with my planners and I would buy from this company again, it is not the cheapest but it is really good quality and the level to which you can personalise their products is excellent.

Giveaway

Would you like to win a personal planner and a family wall planner for yourself?  I have one of each available for the lucky winner.

Win a personal and a family planner

Make sure you check out the terms and conditions and good luck.  Mich x
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Friday, 18 July 2014

Happy birthday my babies..... 7 today


A letter to my little ladies....

Hello my babies,

This time 7 years ago you had just been born and you were two of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Daddy and I were so happy you had come to make our family complete. Miss E, you came out first and you squealed and made it known that you had arrived. Then our little Miss M followed, slightly more heavy and slightly more chubby and quite serene and we thought this might be how things continued.

But little did we know that each time we thought we had your personalities pegged you would swap and keep us on our toes. I'm pleased to say it has only ever been one of you at a time that has been super high maintenance. Miss E, it was you first and then once your reflux was diagnosed and you had your medicine you calmed right down and were such a cute and happy baby.

Miss M you were the one that fed well, slept through the night from an early age, talked first, walked first and frankly did everything first but you have always been our more feisty girl and you wear your emotions on your sleeve and sometimes get into trouble for being all too ready to share what you think.

I love you my babies, both so different, yet both so gorgeous.

Miss M you make me proud to be your mummy as I love how helpful you are, such fun to be with, always willing to share and put on a fun performance. You are so bright and you need to be careful not to waste your skills by getting into trouble through boredom.

Miss E you are a little tender heart and you care so much.  I have never felt such love as I feel from you and I love your tenacity, you won't give up and try so hard. Your skills in all things drawing and crafting astound me and I know one day you will be a super success in whatever you decide to do.

Don't forget my girls you are a team. Being twinnies is special and you must always be each others champion. Even when no-one else wants to play your twin sister will be standing there by your side so cherish that and nurture your special relationship instead of bickering and teasing each other (Miss M I'm looking at you here).

Anyway, have a wonderful day and I'm glad you enjoyed your party yesterday.

Lots of love, Mummy xxxxx


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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

No fuss printing with HP Instant Ink


For the last couple of years it has been such a faff to try and print anything, we had an old printer and we could not get the drivers to download onto my new laptop, so I had to email things to a very old laptop and then plug the printer into the computer and say a prayer as I hoped the printing would actually arrive. Then quite often I'd find the ink was practically empty and no-one had told me. Fast forward about £50 for a couple of new cartridges and I might be able to print something. Boy did it all drive me crazy and things would sit in my email account for days waiting for me to muster the energy to sort the printer.

You don't know how happy I am to tell you that this has all changed in the last couple of weeks. HP asked me if I'd like to try out their new Instant Ink service. This is a pay monthly ink replacement service which means I never have to worry about going out and remembering to buy cartridges again as they get delivered direct to my door just about the time the existing one will run out. It is super clever and makes me super happy.

Take a peek at this very short video, it explains the service perfectly -



It is so easy, you buy a compatable HP printer, enrol online with HP Instant Ink and then just get on with your printing.

The prices are not too expensive either, they start from a very reasonable £1.99 per month to subscribe to the service. It does not matter if you print black and white or colour, your plan is for the pages printed rather than the ink used. Of course on one hand this is good but you need to be aware that if you print a sheet with just a couple of lines of black text, that is one of your 100 sheets gone for that month. This service is especially good for those people who like to print lots of photos and ink intensive pieces.


I also like the fact that you can roll over the unused pages from the last months usage and that the cost for going over your subscription is not too steep either (see above).

When you sign up for your plan it might be a guesstimate as to which service you need but the good news is that you are in charge and you can easily change it online. If you upgrade this will happen immediately or you can make it retrospect from the start of your last billing cycle and if you downgrade or cancel this will happen from the start of your next billing cycle.

My experience
When my HP Envy 5530 printer arrived I took a deep breath and was ready for it to be difficult to set up. Brilliant news, it was not at all. I plugged it in, turned it on and it guided me through the set up by the colour touch screen, I was very impressed.

I was not so impressed that when it printed off its test page it appeared to be missing the text that I assumed should be on there. I then tried to print something from Word and nothing appeared yet if I printed a colour photo that came out fine. It was quite strange and I googled and found a few other people with this problem too on a HP forum. The answer seemed to be to insert a different black ink cartridge but of course this is not what you want to have to do with a brand new printer. As I had been sent an Instant Ink starter kit I put the black Instant Ink cartridge in and then my printing from Word seemed to be fine.

Great, I thought, how easy is that? Until the next day when I went to print the invitations for my girls birthday party and the computer and printer kept advising me I was not enrolled in the HP Instant Ink service and thus could not use that cartridge. I enrolled online then and there and that in itself was not difficult but still that cartridge would not print for me.

I thus emailed HP support as my error message was advising me to do and waited, apparently the response should have come in 24 hours but for me it was nearer 48 hours. Of course this is not that long but when you are avidly waiting to print it feels like a lifetime. I can say that the HP customer representative I spoke to was excellent and he helped me to sort the problem. Basically that original ink cartridge was now miraculously working and we think the issue was that I had been sent an Instant Ink cartridge before I enrolled, this of course would never normally happen if you were not reviewing the service, so I was just unlucky.

Since my problem was rectified a week ago I have printed loads and been really happy with the printer, the quality of the printed documents (including photos) and the Instant Ink service. The HP customer representative arranged for another black ink cartridge to be sent to me so I do not have any further problems.

I also could not believe how easy it was to print remotely from my iPhone and my daughter also did from her android tablet. I think the HP Envy 5530 is a fabulous wireless printer for the cost of £89.95.

The HP Connected account is also good and I love the fact I can log in to my account and see how many pages I have printed and feel in control of my subscription, it also advises me what ink has been sent to me and when and with the Instant Ink pack I receive a pre-paid bag to send back my old cartridge for recycling.

Plus Points
  • Never run out of ink again as a new cartridge will arrive to your door before yours expires
  • Unused pages from the month previous will roll-over for you to use
  • You can change or cancel your subscription anytime
  • You don't get charged any more for being a heavy user of colour printing
  • Instant Ink cartridges have more ink in them and can print over 500 pages each
  • Handy recycling service to do your bit for the planet
  • You can buy your Instant Ink subscription from John Lewis, PC World or online with HP direct

I'm so happy I found out about this service and I'm pretty certain that once my year trial finishes I'll keep this going as one year on the  £3.49 per month plan (100 pages a month) only works out to £41.88 per year and this price isn't much different to buying one black and one colour cartridge in the year.

Disclosure: I received a printer and a years membership to the HP Instant Ink so that I could honestly write this review. I have not been instructed what to write.
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