The Photo Gallery: Week 200

Gallery logo The Photo Gallery: Week 200Hello and welcome to week 200 of The Photo Gallery.

How can I mark the 200th Gallery theme I thought? How can I make it a little bit special? Maybe ask you to post 200 photos (snigger at your faces right now!) Or how about posting your 200th photo? Or maybe use it as a time 20:00?
So I opted to ignore all of those and just stick with what I was going to run with in the first place because I actually KNOW what I’m going to take a photo of – and I NEVER know what I’m going to take a photo of before I set the theme!

And so, the theme for the next Photo Gallery is: 8am.
Show me your 8am – either weekday or weekend. Special day or the every day.
Want to join in?

The Gallery started back in 2010 when I kicked it off for the first time with this post: Photo Gallery Week 1. There were loads of comments but when I moved this blog over to WordPress, Intense Debate ate them all up. But suffice to say some of you guys who still join in today were back there with me on that first week. And that is just amazing!

I set the Gallery up because I love photography. And I wanted to give everyone else an outlet to share and encourage and write really interesting posts around them.
And it has always been about being part of a community of like-minded people. It’s about sparking your imagination, being inspiring – and inspiring others.

But remember, you will get out of The Gallery what you put in, so try to visit as many of the other entries as you can, say hi, discover new people, welcome them in when they discover you, be generous with your comments.

See you on Wednesday when it’s time to link up x

Remember, you can also share your entry via:
Twitter by using the hashtag: #TheGallery
Or by joining in the Gallery communities over on Pinterest and Google +

NEW HERE? NOT SURE HOW TO ENTER THE GALLERY?

If you’re new here and want to find out what The Photo Gallery is all about and how to enter visit here.
And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any prompts or entries in future, make sure you subscribe to Sticky Fingers and get all prompts delivered directly to your in box.
Go on, clicky click away, you know you want to …

If you want to join in with The Gallery and showcase your photos, come back on Wednesday and when my Gallery post goes live, add a link to your post on the Linky below mine.
The link stays open until the following Tuesday, so you have plenty of time to join in.
And ANYONE can join in.

Posted in The Gallery Themes | 2 Comments

Back to school with Start Rite shoes

startrite shoes girls Back to school with Start Rite shoes

Does everyone dread the back to school shoe buying day as much as me?
The expense, the cramming into one local shop to get measured, the hour we seem to spend because Mia likes about 15 pairs and wants to try them all on.

Here’s where I stand on school shoes. I don’t mind spending the £40ish per pair to get a quality item, which fits well and I don’t have to worry about the state of their feet when they trip off to school.
BUT. I want them to last. I don’t want the sole to develop a hole the size of a 50p piece a couple of months in. I don’t want the sole to be so thin it’s not going to protect against any of the elements you throw at it. And I don’t want the inside of the heel to wear away to leave a hole at the back of the shoe.
If I’m paying nearly £40 for a pair of shoes (and let’s face it, I don’t pay that much for a pair for myself these days!) I want £40 worth of shoe.

So, Start-Rite contacted me and asked if I’d like to be part of a project. Would my kids pick a pair of school shoes each through their online service, wear them, do their thing in them and then I report back – along with six other parenting bloggers – and share how the shoes have fared.
I think it’s a brilliant idea – having real mums and real kids show how school shoes are worn and the challenges they go through.

startrite school shoes boys Back to school with Start Rite shoes

startrite school shoes boys2 Back to school with Start Rite shoes

It all starts with the measuring tool, which I am very sceptical about. We’ve always been a go to the local independent shop and have an ‘expert’ measure their feet kind of family. I’m not sure I can trust myself to measure them properly!
That being said, the instructions on the Start-Rite site are very good and I do my thing – twice (I actually did it three times so paranoid was I but who’s counting) – and got our sizes.

startrite foot measure Back to school with Start Rite shoes

Then came the pick your style from the online store debacle.
Dan picked his straight off; he has to have lace-ups for his new school which he was DISGUSTED about because “they’re all lame men’s shoes that look like I’d work in an office”. Well, thankfully they’re not and he chose the shoes above in a size 6 which he absolutely loves. They are Mine and cost £49.
And I love too because just look at those toe bumpers! Doesn’t matter how much football he plays at break time, those babies are going to hold out.
They are delivered and they are spot on. The quality is excellent, the sole is robust and Dan is a happy choppy.

Mia on the other hand is a fussy so and so. Can’t be too girly, can’t be patent, can’t be too ‘big’ (no I don’t know what she means either), can’t look “lame”. Right then.
She picks Bryony in 3½ (£42) but when they arrive because of the nature of the style they come too far up her foot and dig in.
Which is a real shame because the style is fabulous – it has a toe bumper and the sole is nice and thick (yes yes, I’m slightly obsessed with the sole).

So this time we go for a similar style but with a shallower toe, so to speak. The Rigel has a lovely chunky sole and, while I’m not a big fan of this style because it seems so lightweight, I’m really impressed with the quality of the workmanship and actually it feels rather robust.
BUT, again it doesn’t fit and Mia can’t wiggle her toes. So we finally settle on these, Nova, and they are perfect. And as you can see, Mia has been putting them through their paces since going back to school!
Just a note, Start-Rite do offer free returns and an easy return system on any shoes bought online.

start right school shoes girls Back to school with Start Rite shoes

startrite school shoes review 764x1024 Back to school with Start Rite shoes

start rite school shoes review 764x1024 Back to school with Start Rite shoesYou can see the others bloggers taking part here on the Start-Rite Mummy Bloggers page; all parents with different age children with different school shoe needs. And there is a video detailing the information Start-Rite are keen to collate.
We’ll be reporting on the shoes progress over the coming weeks.

Posted in Fashion Review, Reviews, School | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Win a Bissell cleaner worth £199.99

Bissell Powerclean Prime 399x1024 Win a Bissell cleaner worth £199.99

I don’t know about you, but I do love a nice household gadget. Anything which makes living easier!
This Bissell OxyPower Clean Prime promises to revolutionise your life! Woo hoo.
The lightweight cleaner is a deep cleaning system which removes tough stains and powers through your carpets and upholstery with ease.
A rotating power brush at the front of the machine gets deep into the carpet fibres and the hose tool makes light work of difficult to reach places, stairs and furniture.

And when you’ve got kids and pets or both, this gadget is going to be your best friend!
Ideal World TV are launching the Bissell Prime Deep Cleaner on Monday, September 15 for a special price of £199.99 so if you want to see it in action, make sure you tune in.
And to mark the occasion they have given you the opportunity to win one with me.

So, want to get your hands on one?
Well, all you need to do is fill in the widget below and cross your fingers and that’s it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules:
The competition is open to residents of the UK only (sorry rest of the world).
No cash alternative offered.
The prize is 1 Bissell OxyPower Clean Prime worth £199.99.
Entry is via Rafflecopter.
Make sure your contact details are easily available.
The competition closes on Friday, September 19, 2014.
One winner will be chosen at random from all the entries after the closing date.
The winner will be asked to provide their full name and address for the prize to be sent to.
If a prizewinner does not respond within a week of being contacted, the prize will be re-drawn and a new winner will be contacted.

Posted in Competition | Tagged | 263 Comments

Life hack: 9 ways to declutter and make the most of your space at home

9 ways to declutter your home Life hack: 9 ways to declutter and make the most of your space at home

At the age of nine my daughter has asked if she can attend her very first car boot sale.
She’s clearly tired of me asking her to tidy her room, root out the stuff she has ignored for years and make some space.
And so, this weekend we are loading up the boot of the car, along with her best friend and her mum, and we’re heading off to sell the lot!
The girls are supremely excited. Us mums are supremely delighted to get a bit of space back in the house.

And then it got me to thinking about how to maximise that space; how to make my house not seem like one giant storage room that everyone opens the door on, throws their junk in, and then slams that door shut again!

So I’ve teamed up with LoveSpace, a new ‘storage by the box’ business, to offer some really easy tips on how to make the most of your space at home.

9 Ways to Declutter:

  1. Get Under the Stairs
    Don’t just throw everything haphazardly into this space and hope it will disappear into some black hole! Add a desk and a shelf and some funky boxes and turn it into a space-saving office area.
  2. Divide and Conquer
    Decorate old perfume boxes or cereal boxes cut in half to create perfect dividers for your draws. Use Washi tape, old scraps of wallpaper or even Duck tape which you can now buy in really cool colours. Use them to store your smaller items like makeup, jewellery, creams or hair accessories.
  3. Show Off Your Wares
    Don’t bury all your handbags at the back of your wardrobe where you’ll forget about them and never use them again. Add curtain hooks on a wardrobe rail to display your handbags, making each one clearly visible.
    You can also use shower curtain rings to hang your scarfs through and then attach to a hanger.
  4. Bang Tidy
    Thread your ear phone, mobile charger (in fact any type of electrical wire) through each end of a clothes peg to keep them nice and tidy and untangled.
  5. Recycle
    Save used tissue boxes and then stuff them with all your old plastic bags and keep under the sink or close to hand, to save space and keep everything neat and tidy.
  6. The Power of the List
    Use chalkboard paint on a kitchen wall to write to-do lists, messages and reminders and do away with the need for scraps of paper everywhere.
  7. Jar Jar
    Recycle jam jars and pasta sauce jars to make easy candle holders. Or use them to store paperclips, staples or any other little knick-knacks.
    Glue the lid to the underside of a table or shelf and simply twist the jar off to access what’s inside.
  8. Space Saver
    Mount a tension rod inside cabinets beneath your sink to hang your cleaning bottles on using their trigger, providing more space in the cupboard below.
  9. You Can Do It
    Take the lid off tin cans, paint the outsides to make them pretty – glue to them to a bathroom wall, then roll up hand towels and insert to create a funky storage solution?

And if you STILL don’t have room, check out LoveSpace which delivers boxes and packing materials to your door, collect the boxes once they’re packed up and store them safely in their warehouses from as little as £1.95 per box per month.
Then when you need your belongings back, just arrange delivery via the LoveSpace website and your things will be delivered the next day.
Cloud storage for your physical things!

This is a sponsored post. 

Posted in Lists, Sponsored | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Photo Gallery 199: Sky

Naples Florida The Photo Gallery 199: Sky

I took this photo while on a 53ft catamaran off the coast of Naples, in Florida, USA.
Just a few feet more to the left and those rocks and the sand disappeared and almost melted into the gap between the sky and the sea to leave the most stunning site.

Beautiful blues and whips of white flecked across the sky, like some giant artist had flicked his wrist to add a tough of depth and interest.
Truly beautiful.

This post is for week 199 of The Photo Gallery: The theme is: Sky.

If you’re new here and want to know what The Gallery is, go and read here, and then come right back and join in!

 You can also pick up The Gallery code if you want too, though it’s not a requirement for joining in.
And you could also subscribe to this blog to make sure you never miss a theme; they are posted here every Friday.

Now go forth and show some big blog love. Visit other bloggers, comment on their post if you feel moved to do so, and be inspired.
This virtual gallery of photographs is about enjoying each other’s work, so go make someone’s day. You will get out of this whatever you put in.

The link stays open until Tuesday so you have plenty of time to join in.
And absolutely ANYONE can join in.

You can also find The Photo Gallery on: Pinterest Google + Follow Tara Cain’s board The Photo Gallery on Pinterest.

See you over there x



Posted in The Gallery, Travel | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Nine

girl on a skateboard Nine

She asked for hair crimpers, nail varnish and a skateboard for her birthday.
That’s her all over; doesn’t really fit in. Doesn’t want to be a round peg in a round hole. Doesn’t care if anyone says ‘but that’s ridiculous’. She’s quite comfortable in her own skin thank you very much.
Which is why her wrist guards are on the wrong way; she didn’t want to wait to be shown what to do.
Miss Independent.

Mia is a difficult child to parent. She brings out the worst in me; the bits of me I don’t want to admit I’m capable of. The shouty me, the unreasonable me, the me full of regret.
But we’re learning together and the one thing I have discovered is that the rewards for my patience and love are going to be huge.

So happy birthday to my amazing girl.
You really do light up my life.
Now if you could just be realllllly careful on that there skateboard . . . .

birthday cake Nine
This is the birthday cake I made for her party. She asked for ALL THE CHOCOLATE all over the top so we crumbled on Flake, Maltesers and Wispa and finished off with chocolate hearts.
Which is kind of bizarre given that she doesn’t eat cake!

Posted in Birthdays, Mia | 14 Comments

Win a family of luxury Air Puppy cuddly toys worth £96

Hickory  1024x941 Win a family of luxury Air Puppy cuddly toys worth £96

Just LOOK at these adorable faces.
Smoooooooch.
These beautiful chaps are looking for a new home and have come to my blog to find one.
They are insanely soft and cuddly; I was sent one by Air Puppy a couple of years ago. He now has pride of place on my bed and anytime a childish hand goes anywhere near him I YELL for them to get their hands off my Mr Mo.
Yes, I am 10 years old. What of it.

Let me introduce you to them; These are the Hickory Shack crew. There is Hoppity Bunny,  Cornflakes Giraffe, Popcorn Puppy, Muckaluck Monkey, Goosey Zebra and Mr Wiggles Elephant.
And they all want to come home with YOU!

The luxury cuddly companions make ideal presents for little ones as they are so soft and cuddly. Buy them as a Christening present, a birthday gift or that special something from Santa.
Or, you could just treat yourself!
They will be available in Boots stores from this month, priced £16 each.
You can connect with Air Puppy on their Facebook page and on Twitter where they are hosting giveaways too.

air puppy hickory shack 767x1024 Win a family of luxury Air Puppy cuddly toys worth £96

So how do I give these super soft cuddles a new home I hear you asking?
Well, all you need to do is fill in the widget below. It’s ridiculously easy.
Then keep your fingers crossed.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules:
The competition is open to residents of the UK only (sorry rest of the world).
No cash alternative offered.
The prize is 3 x pair of Hickory Shack cuddly toys worth £16 each. Prizes will be sent at random.
Entry is via Rafflecopter.
Make sure your contact details are easily available.
The competition closes at on Tuesday, September 16, 2014.
One winners will be chosen at random from all the entries after the closing date.
The winners will be asked to provide their full name and address for the prize to be sent to.
If a prizewinner does not respond within a week of being contacted, the prize will be re-drawn and a new winner will be contacted.

Posted in Competition | Tagged | 344 Comments

The Photo Gallery: Week 199

Gallery logo The Photo Gallery: Week 199Hello and welcome to week 199 of The Photo Gallery.
Week 199! That’s a little bit of a milestone right there!
I’m so thankful to all of those people who still love the Gallery, still join in and still support other bloggers.
Given that there are SO many photography linkies now, that’s such a wonderful thing to see.
So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And so, the theme for the next Photo Gallery is: The Sky.
We’ve done this theme before and everyone comes up with the most amazing photos of sunsets, cloud-strewn blue skies or angry, smudged skies.
So look to the skies and show us what you see.

Want to join in?

The Gallery started back in 2010 when I kicked it off for the first time with this post: Photo Gallery Week 1. There were loads of comments but when I moved this blog over to WordPress, Intense Debate ate them all up. But suffice to say some of you guys who still join in today were back there with me on that first week. And that is just amazing!

I set the Gallery up because I love photography. And I wanted to give everyone else an outlet to share and encourage and write really interesting posts around them.
And it has always been about being part of a community of like-minded people. It’s about sparking your imagination, being inspiring – and inspiring others.

But remember, you will get out of The Gallery what you put in, so try to visit as many of the other entries as you can, say hi, discover new people, welcome them in when they discover you, be generous with your comments.

See you on Wednesday when it’s time to link up x

Remember, you can also share your entry via:
Twitter by using the hashtag: #TheGallery
Or by joining in the Gallery communities over on Pinterest and Google +

NEW HERE? NOT SURE HOW TO ENTER THE GALLERY?

If you’re new here and want to find out what The Photo Gallery is all about and how to enter visit here.
And if you want to make sure you don’t miss any prompts or entries in future, make sure you subscribe to Sticky Fingers and get all prompts delivered directly to your in box.
Go on, clicky click away, you know you want to …

If you want to join in with The Gallery and showcase your photos, come back on Wednesday and when my Gallery post goes live, add a link to your post on the Linky below mine.
The link stays open until the following Tuesday, so you have plenty of time to join in.
And ANYONE can join in.

Posted in The Gallery Themes | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Discovering the new Folr family locator app

When my son started middle school there was this sudden parental door slammed in my face; I was no longer needed at the school gate to collect him, he could make his way home from sports matches and suddenly I would have no idea where he was.
It felt like I had let go of his hand for good!
That know everything, be everywhere with them feeling from first school was gone! And if his rugby match after school finished early and he’d started to walk home I had no way of knowing. Because texting his mum to let her know he’s safe would be the last thing on his mind!
But what about if you could know where your young adult was without actually being there?

The folks at Folr asked me to have a look at their new free app, a location-tracking application which means you can do just that through their mobile device.

Folr app1 Discovering the new Folr family locator app

It’s really simple to sign up. Once you’ve downloaded it onto your device, you add your mobile phone number, Folr sends you a text message with a pin number to sign up and then you’re in.
You add additional people using your phone’s contacts and they are then sent an invitation to join up. Then can then choose whether or not to accept and are prompted to download the app if they haven’t already done so.
It’s as simple and user friendly as that.

Folr app 1024x507 Discovering the new Folr family locator app

The company say the aim of the app is to gain real-time information on the whereabouts of family members, best friends, relatives; to give you the opportunity to watch over your loved ones. Imagine being able to keep track of an elderly relative with dementia, or being able to track a group of your friends who you have arranged a meet up with? Or even if you have a nanny or childcarer and want to know where your children are during the day while you’re at work.
When I first heard about it I wondered who would sign up for it. But the idea of permission-based tracking definitely has merit – especially where children are concerned.

Personally I think it’s invaluable as a parenting tool to keep that ever watchful eye on where they are for ultimate peace of mind.
And I imagine once you have teenagers it will be priceless – IF, of course, you can drive a bargain and convince them of how important it is for their safety!

Folr provides options in history and privacy and gives a complete timeline of the device location. Also, users get complete autonomy over when they are being tracked.
The company also assures that privacy is paramount – there will be no adds on the app, details will no be passed on and anyone signed up can turn off tracking at any time.

The app is available through the App Store and Play Store and is free to download.

This is a sponsored post.

 

Posted in Sponsored, Tech Review | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Photo Gallery 198: School

first day of school 1024x945 The Photo Gallery 198: School

“It’s going to be strange going to school tomorrow.”
Dan and I are sat chatting in his room as we prepare his bags for his first day at a new school on Monday.
“It’s tough after six weeks off,” I say “all those late nights and days out with no real routine”.
“No, I mean it will be strange going to that school. A different school. Not knowing anyone.”
It’s hanging in the air again. Dan had to do this two years ago when we couldn’t get into the middle school we wanted; where all his friends were going.
He’s so like me. Shy. Not so you’d look at him and say ‘he’s a shy boy that one’. To meet him you’d think him friendly, chatty, outgoing. But he’s had to work at it. Just like me.

“I won’t know anyone. I’ve got to make new friends all over again. It’s really hard. I’m a bit anxious about it really.”

AK. Got me right there front and centre in my heart.
Last year we decided to take control of his education, and he’s worked really hard to get a place at the school he’s going to and it’s not going to be an easy ride. It’s going to be really hard work. And he’s totally up for that.
But I worry he’ll find the social thing the hardest work of all.

And so, the first day of school was tense. Head clamp tense. Not being able to breathe or eat or concentrate on anything for any length of time. That sort of tense.
And that was me, not him. I was a wreck.
I kept glancing at his timetable watching ‘break’ time roll around, wondering what he was doing, had he met someone, did the rest of the school accept him, was he on his own?
I felt like it was ME at that school for the first time with my slightly too big blazer and grown up school shoes.

I raced to pick him up at the end of the day. Raced.
“I’ve got such a bad head from thinking about you all day Dan!” I announce, almost in relief, almost as a question to see if I had any reason to worry.
“Well that was daft” he chuckles, “I was absolutely fine. I really love it. Now can we go home and watch Doctor Who?”

This post is for week 198 of The Photo Gallery: The theme is: School.
If you’re new here and want to know what The Gallery is, go and read here, and then come right back and join in!

 You can also pick up The Gallery code if you want too, though it’s not a requirement for joining in.
And you could also subscribe to this blog to make sure you never miss a theme; they are posted here every Friday.

Now go forth and show some big blog love. Visit other bloggers, comment on their post if you feel moved to do so, and be inspired.
This virtual gallery of photographs is about enjoying each other’s work, so go make someone’s day. You will get out of this whatever you put in.

The link stays open until Tuesday so you have plenty of time to join in.
And absolutely ANYONE can join in.

You can also find The Photo Gallery on: Pinterest Google + Follow Tara Cain’s board The Photo Gallery on Pinterest.

See you over there x



Posted in Dan, School, The Gallery | 31 Comments