The Photo Gallery 196: World Photo Day

world photo day The Photo Gallery 196: World Photo Day

World Photo Day was yesterday and it was about celebrating everything which is glorious about photography.
I adore photos. I’m that person who comes round to your house and wants to flip through your photo albums. I’m that person who spends hours looking at websites at photo inspirations, photo journeys,
They don’t even have to be magnificent, technically perfect photos. They just need to tell a story.
Because that’s exactly what I think photographs should do; they should engage and entrance and pull the viewer in. And make you ask who and why and how come?

This comes into the ‘not technically brilliant’ pile. I was on a dog walk and only had my phone with me. I rounded the corner and WAMMO, this is the sight that greeted me. And right there and then I thought thank heavens photography has been invented because I’d really struggle to tell everyone about this view!

This post is for week 196 of The Photo Gallery: The theme is: World Photo Day.
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 | Tagged | 7 Comments

Life hack: How to restore doll’s hair

Netmums lifehack tweet Life hack: How to restore dolls hair

I saw this tip on Twitter from Netmums and literally the same afternoon Mia and I thought we’d give it a go. Because she has so many friends – Ariel, Rapunzel, Barbie, Jasmine, horse riding chick – none of whom she plays with any more because their hair looks like a bird broke into the toy box and used their locks as a nest.
But surely it’s too good to be true, I thought? Surely it can’t be that easy? It seems like magic.
So I set up our doll’s hairdressing studio and attempted hair alchemy. And it worked. It only WORKED!

Disney princess dolls Life hack: How to restore dolls hair

I was so convinced it wouldn’t work I didn’t even bother with lots of ‘before’ photos, but trust me, the girls looked like they had dropped out. Their tresses were a tangled disgrace. I’m absolutely delighted with the result. So much so that look, I lined the girls up for a photo. And THEN I moved onto the horses’ hair . . . !
This one took me aaaaages. Because it also has a slight curl in the mane it was really badly tangled up. But I persevered and she now looks like a new horse.

hair Life hack: How to restore dolls hair

So here’s how to do it. It’s not quite as easy as ‘spritz their hair and comb’. I spent hours doing it, perfecting it, swearing at it. But perfect it I did.
It’s slightly different from the Netmums suggestion, but it really works.

revive dolls hair Life hack: How to restore dolls hair

What you’ll need Fabric conditioner Hair brush with plastic bristles Deep bowl Running water Deep wells of patience
Oh and a doll with disgraceful hair. Rapunzel (for yes, it is she, Mia likes to mix up the outfits!) had hair like one giant dreadlock it was so matted at the top. If fact the picture makes it look slightly better than it actually was.

rapunzel hair Life hack: How to restore dolls hair What to do

  1. Add 3 capfuls of the fabric conditioner to the bowl, then about the same again of water. You don’t’ really need to measure it out, I just guessed but you need quite a concentrated solution.
  2. Add the solution to the doll’s hair. I found that literally dipping the doll’s hair in the bowl was much better than spraying it on. Swish it around for a bit and make sure all the hair is coated, then hold it under a running tap for a few seconds and brush.
  3. Dip it back in the fabric conditioner and then bring it out and brush. Rinse under the running tap then squeeze out excess water and leave on a towel to dry in a warm place.
  4. If the hair is really bad, you need to work in sections. It can take a while, but with patience you can get through it. Just keep repeating the steps above.

dolls hair revival Life hack: How to restore dolls hair

Posted in Family life, Toys | 7 Comments

Underwater photography with Lifeproof

lifeproof iphone case Underwater photography with Lifeproof

There is nothing more nerve-wracking than putting your precious phone under water to take a photograph for the first time.
Sure it’s wearing a case which tells me it’s water proof, dirt proof, snow proof, shock proof. Probably Tara proof too.
But still. I’m having to put my very expensive phone under water. That’s UNDER WATER.

But that’s exactly what I did while we were on holiday because my phone was wearing a Lifeproof case.
It had been recommended to me by Kirsty at My Two Mums who trialled one recently and really rated it. So I asked Lifeproof if I could trial one too – after all we were venturing on a holiday featuring lots of sea and sand and watersports.

And here are our results. I took a few, the kids delighted in taking selfies and it basically meant we got to take my phone where we never would have dared before.
It came in the sea with us, came snorkelling, jet skiing, in the pool.
The quality is spot on too; no distortion from the screen cover.

TAKE IT IN THE POOL

underwater photo Underwater photography with Lifeproof
underwater photo 2 Underwater photography with Lifeproof
underwater photo 3 Underwater photography with Lifeproof

Some tips:

  • It’s fairly easy to fit however you really do need to ensure your phone is totally clean before fitting (there is a cloth included.
  • You can still use your earphones (I didn’t bother) however to expose the ‘hole’ there is a little plastic screw you have to remove so make sure you don’t lose it! There is also a jack plug included so you can maintain a watertight seal and use them underwater.
  • You can also still recharge however you can only use an original Apple charger; my car charger was too chunky to slip in so any third party charger may not work.
  • Another thing to note is that if you’re taking photos underwater, the shutter button you would normally use on the camera doesn’t work – you need to use the + volume button on the side as the shutter release instead.

SELFIES

underwater selfie Underwater photography with Lifeproof underwater selfie 2 Underwater photography with Lifeproof

It’s quite a pricey bit of kit – it retails at around £70 on the John Lewis site – and when you first open it you’re all ‘what, this is going to protect my phone? This flimsy thing?’ But it works, it’s not obtrusive (I’ve still got it on my phone) and it means you can take your ‘camera’ anywhere.

lifeproof Collage Underwater photography with Lifeproof
The only real issue I’ve had is that it can be a tiny bit ‘laggy’ when using the touchscreen but nothing major. And I’ve not noticed any difference when using the phone or any other function for that matter. Which is a good job, because it’s a bitch to get the case off!
Another good tip that Kirsty gave me was to clean the screen after taking it in the water as it can muck up quick quickly (especially after a dip in the sea!)

TAKE IT IN THE SEA!

life proof case photo Underwater photography with Lifeproof

beach photo life proof case Underwater photography with Lifeproof

Posted in Photography Review, Reviews | 7 Comments

The Photo Gallery: Week 196

Gallery logo The Photo Gallery: Week 196Hello and welcome to week 196 of The Photo Gallery.

The reason I set up the Gallery all that time ago was because I love photographs. I love taking them, looking at them, discovering new ways of taking them but most of all I love sharing them.

And next week there is a day when everyone who loves photography will be joining in too. For next Tuesday it is World Photo Day when people all over the globe give a little glimpse of the world they live in.
It’s about celebrating photography, visiting all corners of our country, the globe, from the comfort of our living room. It’s about showing just how awesome photography is.
I’ve featured World Photo Day for a couple of years now and they’ve been kind enough to quote me on their website, such is my fandom!

So this week the Gallery theme is: My World Photo Day.  

Think about what photography means to you. Maybe use a favourite photo, or a photography skill you’ve just mastered. Pick a photo that reflects what World Photo Day means to you.

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 Photography, The Gallery Themes | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Mean girls

gift tray Mean girls

Mia and I had a row today.
She acted totally out of character and then I acted totally out of character and shouted at her.
Really shouted. Lost my cool.
She slammed all the doors in the house to storm off to her room. And I sat downstairs and felt like a total and utter heel.
I let her wind up up into a tight coil and then *ping* I unravelled.

I shouted for her to go to her room. I just can’t stand to be around her. Which she did, but when I sit and take stock and listen I can hear her sobbing. Actual sobbing. Gasping for breath, muffled every now and again as she obviously buries her head in her pillow.
And I felt like a total and utter heel.

There’s nothing in the Parenting Manual about that is there?
There is nothing about keeping your cool when an issue raises its head and you’re so shocked by it your only reaction is to shout like some demented banshee.

Today Mia did something at school that totally appals me. She took her lovingly crafted party invites into class and handed them out to every excited child. The whole class. Except one. She left one girl out. In front of everyone else.
My girl was the mean girl.

The girl she left out lives just around the corner from us. She plays here all the time. There are issues with the friendship, but even so, as far as I’m concerned Mia crossed a line.
And I think my reaction was more from shock than anything else. And the fact that she was so blasé about it.
My girl is the mean girl.

After a couple of hours she appears in the doorway with a tray. A cup of tea, a muffin surrounded with fresh berries and a handmade bunch of flowers.
Bosh, straight to my heart. She knows me oh so well.

We talk about what she’s done, the consequences of her actions etc etc
We do a little role play to replay the incident, me hoping when she sees it in the cold light of day she too will be appalled with it.
But I don’t know how much of it went in. How much of it she’s taken onboard. She is adamant that what she has done isn’t as bad as I’m making out.
Seriously, WHO is this child? And why is she acting in a manner so alien to me?

I’m looking for any help or advice here, because I absolutely want to nip this in the bud right here, right now.
She wails and cries and shows real emotion to begin with, but then the barriers go up and she’s all “what do I care?”, “so not bothered” etc etc.
She’s such a gorgeous, caring, polite girl, but there is this side to her I don’t recognise AT ALL. And, of course, like all good parents, I feel like it must be my fault somehow; something I’m doing wrong. Somehow I’ve failed.

Life as a parent isn’t all Instagram pictures and home baking. It’s bloody tough. Those toddler years are seeming like a walk in the park at the moment!

* NOTE: I actually wrote this before we went on holiday, about four weeks ago, and have sat on it ever since wondering whether to post it or not.
But it’s a big black cloud over our lives at the moment and I really do genuinely want advice from anyone who has been through this or has anything to offer. 

 

Posted in Mia, Parenting | 44 Comments

The Photo Gallery 195: At home with the Sticky Fingers crew

sticky fingers crew The Photo Gallery 195: At home with the Sticky Fingers crew

Our home a couple of weeks ago was on a Caribbean cruise ship call the Oasis of the Seas.
As a Royal Caribbean ambassador the cruise company had asked me to take my family on a cruise around the Bahamas to see how this sort of holiday suited a family.
More – much more!  - on this later.

But this photo was taken on our last day. We had had the most amazing adventure and the kids knew we were leaving the ship the following morning.
As you can see, Mia took it a bit harder than the rest of us!

We really did feel at home on the ship – and that’s something I NEVER thought I’d be able to say as the mother of two kids who are on the go ALL THE TIME!

This post is for week 195 of The Photo Gallery: The theme is At Home with the . . .
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 | 11 Comments

Watching the sun set on the ocean

beach sunset 3 Watching the sun set on the ocean

Well, it’s got to be one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had.
Such a simple thing; costs nothing, just your time.
But it stays with you. It moves you. It makes you sigh a deep, satisfied sigh.

We’re just back from our amazing two-week holiday (part Caribbean cruise, part stay in a villa in south west Florida – more on that later) but as I’ve been downloading the photos and reliving the memories, our late afternoon picnic on Barefoot Beach is a standout moment.
Here’s the thing with great holidays; sometimes you’re so busy doing amazing stuff that you don’t have time to take stock and realise what an amazing thing you’ve been doing.
Until you look back at the photos and are all ‘MAN, that was so cool’.
When my husband suggested we go down to the beach quite late I wasn’t hugely keen. There’ll be bugs and no sun and will the sea be OK for the kids to go in?

He was, of course, totally right. TOTALLY right.
We took a beach picnic in a giant cooler, packed deck chairs, rings for the kids to take into the sea, and our books. And sprayed up with bug repellant!
There is nothing at this beach – no amenities, no shelter, no one selling food. Just sand and sea.
When we arrived on the beach it was about 6pm. A wedding was just about to start; yes, there on the beach with the waves lapping at the makeshift arch, covered in organza and mini red ribbons.
And we pitched ourselves with a front and centre view of nature in all her perfection with the sound of the wedding trumpeter behind us.

We watched the sun set as the children played in the sea and we shared the beach with a wedding party and it felt like perfection.
The photos aren’t hugely great quality as I took them on my phone (can you BELIEVE I forgot to take my camera?!) but you get the idea.

beach sunset  Watching the sun set on the ocean beach sunset 2 Watching the sun set on the ocean beach go pro Watching the sun set on the ocean picnic on the beach Watching the sun set on the ocean on the beach Watching the sun set on the ocean beach go pro 2 Watching the sun set on the ocean beach sunset 4 Watching the sun set on the ocean beach sunset 7 Watching the sun set on the ocean beach sunset 8 Watching the sun set on the ocean

Posted in Photo Diary, Travel | Tagged , | 4 Comments

The Photo Gallery: Week 195

Gallery logo The Photo Gallery: Week 195Hello and welcome to week 195 of The Photo Gallery.

We had a little break over the summer because, you know, absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that!
So welcome back and let’s get straight to it.

This week the Gallery theme is: At Home With the . . .  

A bit like A Home with the Kardashians but way way classier! Give a snapshot of home life at your pad. Breakfast time, dinner time, curled up on the sofa together, all in the garden chilling out, whatever you fancy.

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 | Leave a comment

10 tips for camping with kids

camping with kids 10 tips for camping with kids

Sure we love to travel and visit new cultures, try out different languages, discover amazing new vistas.
But we do love to camp.
Drop out, switch off from the grid and sleep under the stars.
I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I can honestly say you should at least try it for the sake of your kids. For that freedom to run wild and free, be dirty, discover Mother Nature, chill out, and flop into bed utterly exhausted is the stuff of powerful childhood memories.
And with the school holidays in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about it seriously.

So how do you do it? How do you go camping with children and not lose your sanity?
We’ve camped since Mia was 6 months old, so nearly nine years now, and there’s no sign of us stopping.
We’ve put tents up in the rain, sat in searing sunshine and started a newly-invented game of basketball rugby on the land in front of our tent that saw pretty much every child (and many adults) from the campsite join in, like an experiment in osmosis.

Granted my children are older now, which makes this a while lot easier. But I’ve done the breastfeeding on a director’s chair years. I’ve changed nappies on the floor, tried to keep the tent pod dark for a sleeping baby. And we survived.

So, here are my top tips for camping with kids:

1. Travel with friends
It’s number one for a reason; if you can camp with others who have kids you instantly take away many of your problems by giving your children someone to hang out with. And when the kids are happy and off playing, mum and dad can drink beer. Or in my case, Pimms.

camping friends 10 tips for camping with kids camping with friends 10 tips for camping with kids camping with other families e1406159650264 10 tips for camping with kids

2. Camp local
You really don’t need to travel far to get that ‘in a valley in the middle of nowhere’ feeling.
One of our very favourite sites is a 30 minute drive from our home so we take two cars, the dog and everything we probably don’t need.
Once you’re on the site you could be anywhere, and if you’re not far away you can always pop back if you’ve forgotten the tent poles (oh, yes, we’ve been there too. It was the husband’s fault, obviously).

camping view 10 tips for camping with kids

3. Word of mouth is king
Ask around for recommendations of camp sites people have stayed at and enjoyed. Many times the site looks wonderful online but you can’t beat someone who has actually been there for first hand feedback.

4. Glamp
Don’t listen to anyone who tells you to travel light and be a ‘proper camper’. Rubbish, take everything you need to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. And it that means packing your slippers or your duvet or a solar-powered electric blanket, then so be it.
I’ve had eye rolls from people when I tell them I take an electric kettle and a mini fridge. They’re looking on with envious eyes when I make a cup of tea and can store my bacon safely in the searing sunshine.
It’s your camping trip, you enjoy it. So overpack. Take luxuries.

5. Embrace dirt
Mother Nature is dirty. Very dirty. Mia spends her whole weekend with toes so black I despair they will never be clean again. So what.
Leave the grime, don’t worry about getting them to shower every day and let them chill out and be mucky.
There’s plenty of time to scrub them clean when you’re home and think of the fun they’ll have.
Now if I could just get my 11 year old to take his damn socks off when he’s running around outside because scrubbing feet is infinitely easier than scrubbing the ground-in mud on the bottom of socks.

getting muddy when camping 10 tips for camping with kids

6. Plan for rain
Just assume it’s going to rain. Then if it doesn’t it’s a big ole bonus. If it does, you’re prepared.
Changes of clothes, towels to throw down on the floor, things to do if you’re stuck inside for a while.
Or, if you’re camping in the summer and it rains, just go outside and enjoy it and have some nice warm clothes to come back and get changed into.

7. Invent games
One of the best games we played that had everyone giggling – old and young alike – was welly wanging. You’ve got your wellies there anyway in case it rains (see point above) so make use of them.
Rounders is a brilliant game that everyone can join in with, and you’ll usually find that other kids end up asking if they can join in and voila, you’re meeting new friends.
Another favourite if there are only a few of you, is a scavenger hunt. Give them a paper bag each, with a list of items to find written on the front (straight twig, round leaf, rough stone, unusual leaf, feather etc) and every time they find one of them, they add it to the bag and tick it off the list.
Use Mother Nature; let her guide you.

camping adventure 10 tips for camping with kids

8. Pack wisely
If you pack nothing else make sure you at least have these things: Wipes, dry shampoo, bug spray, eye mask (unless you like waking up at 4am when the sun rises), lots and lots of snacks, mini torches for the kids (you can pick them up really reasonably in supermarkets or DIY stores)

9. Stay warm
It can get chilly at night – even when you’re sat out under the stars with your toes in front of a fire. So pack everything you’ll need to stay warm. Bed socks are a must to keep your toes warm at night as you get into bed and you can always slip them off if you get too toasty.
And take fleecy blankets to throw over your knees, round shoulders or over the end of your bed.

DSC 0108 10 tips for camping with kids

10. Chill. Out
Accept that it’s going to be hard work, putting up and taking down the tent. Accept that the kids are going to eat junk, be dirty and go to bed at ridiculous times.
Then kick back, switch off and chill out.

Screen shot 2013 06 30 at 23.33.57 10 tips for camping with kidscamping sleeping baby 10 tips for camping with kids

Posted in Family Holiday, Travel | Tagged | 8 Comments

Win a Trunki PaddlePak

paddlepak Win a Trunki PaddlePak

If there are two things Mia loves in this world, it’s swimming and animals.
What she doesn’t know is that while we on our Caribbean Cruise very soon, we’ve arranged to go horse riding in the sea and to swim with dolphins. I think she will actually burst with the excitement. Hell, I might burst with the excitement for her!

Mia discovered swimming quite late really. Last year at the age of seven she asked if she could have swimming lessons (whenever we’ve asked if she wanted to in the past she’s replied with ‘what for? I CAN swim’. Well, she could doggy paddle very stylishly and actually get quite far, but it wasn’t pretty.
However, she started lessons and we discovered that she’s actually a bit of a mermaid. She loves it. She’s really good at it. She’s a natural.

So I take her along to her lessons every week. Curse at the blue plastic overshoes I have to put on. Curse at the soporific heat in the pool as I sit and watch. Curse at the soggy towel/costume/bag I have to wrestle with.
But then Trunki got in touch and asked if Mia would like to try out their brand new Paddlepak.
The backpacks are perfect for the beach they said. And trips to the pool. They are water resistant AND they come in styles such as Killer Whale, Dolphin, Shark and Clown Fish.
SOLD!

killer whale paddlepak Win a Trunki PaddlePak

As you can see Mia is a huge fan. I did wonder if she would be too old for them, but not a bit of it. It goes to swimming lessons and it’s coming to the beach with us while we’re away.
The pack has acres of space, has a clever fold over top with clip to ensure everything stays in and nothing gets in (i.e. sand!), has a mini pocket in the tail for essentials and a special little grip for sunglasses.

Paddlepak washbag 300x300 Win a Trunki PaddlePak

COMPETITION
So, how would you like to get your hands on one of these gorgeous Paddlepaks for your little one? There is the choice of 10 different designs.
I’ve teamed up with Trunki to give away 2 Paddlepaks, worth upto £24.99 each.
PLUS each winner will also get one of these little fellas too; a gorgeous Jellyfish wash bag, worth £9.99 each.

All you have to do for a chance of winning is enter via the widget below.

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 two Trunki Paddlepaks worth unto £24.99 each. Plus 2 Jellyfish wash bags worth £9.99 each.
Entry is via Rafflecopter.
Make sure your contact details are easily available.
The competition closes at on Sunday August 10, 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 | 250 Comments