If you are anything like me, during 2016, you took hundreds, if not thousands of photos. These days we are all shutterbugs, but, sadly, we rarely look at our photos, or do much with them. By the time I get around to organising my photos, I have sometimes forgotten important facts like where they were taken.
Share your photos more
For 2017, the plan is to change that, and start to get more out of them. Being more organised is going to be key to my doing so. By getting into the habit of sharing them, and, maybe, posting some of them here, I am sure I will look at them sooner and, therefore, sort the good from the bad.
Turn them into artwork
Recently, I have also been looking into the idea of ordering canvas prints from Hello Canvas. This firm has honed their ordering processes to the point where literally anyone can upload their photos and have them turned into beautiful canvas style prints. The great thing about their service is that they will take any photo you send them and print it up in a range of sizes.
If you want to you can upload a few photos into an image editing service such as Photoshop and have fun creating your own works of art. Provided they are high-resolution and you save them in the correct format, you can use them to order a print.
Playing around with image editing software is fun, but you have to be careful because it is easy to waste an entire day just messing around with the filters. If you want to learn more about using software to create your own works of art you can do so here. If you have the time, try out the collage maker on that site. It is very intuitive, so in no time you can create something that you would be happy to hang on your walls.
Give them as presents
Given that we do not have a huge home, I am not expecting to use more than a few of my photos as artwork for the house. However, I am hoping to have some of them turned into presents or the family. If you want to you can have them printed out and delivered direct to the person you are giving them to. This is a great option because it saves you both time and money.
Using old photos for Canvas Prints
Another thing I may do is to help some of my older relatives to scan some of their photos. It is an offer I have been planning to make for a while, but just have not got around to making.
Going through old photos is always fun, and interesting. You usually learn a lot about the family and it is nice to let your children hear some of the stories first hand. Provided you make high-resolution scans of them, most old photos can also be sent off to be printed up and hung in the home.
Only 9 sleeps until Christmas day, and yet I still have so many things on my to do list!!! Luckily, taking the children to see Santa isn't one if them!
If you still haven't managed to book your little ones to see the big guy himself, then fear not! Head on over to The London Transport Museum where the Children can meet Father Christmas in his Grotto and then explore the museum. The museum has also arranged plenty of Christmas activities such as elf trails, workshops and story telling to keep little elves busy.
Tickets for the Grotto are £12 for one child, £20 for two and £25 for three, when visiting together. I think this is really good value, especially when you take in to account the excellent gifts that the children received. E was given a slap band watch and Rufio a little wooden tube train that fits perfectly on their Brio train set. Needless to say, they were both thrilled.
We had never been to the museum before although loads of our friends had recommended it to us. Now I know why and I wish I had taken the children there sooner. It is absolutely brilliant, in fact the children both asked to go back again the next day!
Now that school has finished for Christmas, a trip to The London Transport Museum would make a perfect family day out. To book your tickets for the Grotto and for more information on Christmas activities at the museum check out: www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/events-calendar/christmas
I love Beauty Kitchen as a brand, all their products are 100% effective, natural and affordable which is pretty much the criteria that I look for when buying new beauty products. They very kindly sent me over the two 'create your own' that you can see in the photos below and I think they would make amazing gifts for crafty kids and equally for any beauty junkie, so of course they were a winner all round in our house.
One rainy afternoon, E and I decided to try out the 'Create your own lip balms'. The tin contained Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter which we needed to melt in a pan, so this is definitely not the sort of activity that could be done unattended. With adult supervision though it was great fun. We then added some sparkly natural mica powder and left the lip balms to solidify in the cute little lip balm tins provided. The finished product ( which I now carry around in my handbag) is a very moisturising balm with just a hint of shimmer. E was delighted with her lip balm, she loves to play around with make-up at home but she has super sensitive skin so I am always a bit wary but we have no such worries here with Beauty Kitchen as it's all paraben & sulphate free.
E adores Bath Bombs but generally we have to limit them because they tend to cause her irritation so she was overjoyed to be able to create and then use her own. We have used them a few times now and haven't had any problems with irritation.
The bath bombs were very quick and easy to make, dried and ready to use within 15 mins, which is a huge bonus if your kids are as impatient as mine!! The oil that comes with them smelled amazing and we added some food colouring just to make them a little more interesting. Come bath time both kids were super excited to watch our home made bath bombs fizz and dissolve.
For more Create Your Own kits and clean beauty goodness then check out www.beautykitchen.co.uk
Last week, two letters arrived for my little ones from Father Christmas, inviting my children to Lapland UK to help him and his elves get all the toys ready for Christmas. To say that they were excited, would be an understatement. In the run up to our trip to Lapland, I have never known my kids to be so well behaved, it was like magic! E would help her little brother to get dressed in the mornings ( and this has NEVER happened before), they doing as they were told and E even told me not to wear make- up because I was far prettier with out it..... it was obvious they were on their best behaviour in case Father Christmas' elves were watching!!
Lapland UK is based in Ascot, we drive this way quite often and it usually takes us around 45 mins from Chelsea but we got stuck in a huge traffic jam so we were cutting it fine. Our tour was booked in at 3.30 and we arrived at the car park at 3.25. We bolted over to the elf-check in, just as our tour was due to start and there was a queue in front of us. Fortunately, the 4pm tour wasn't totally booked up so the kind elf at the check in moved us up to the next slot so we didn't miss out on anything.
In hindsight, I would say, make sure to arrive at least 20 mins before your tour is due to start. That way you would have plenty of time to make your way from car park, which is rather large, to the elf check-in. There is a cafe at the check-in and elves on hand to entertain the small folk so you won't be at a loose end if you arrive early.
The children were given, elf passports with stamps to fill in throughout the tour, it also contained words to the songs that the elves would sing later on.
Whilst we waited for our tour, the children were entertained by a funny little elf called 'Porter' whose suitcase kept falling open to reveal presents, giant acorns and all sorts of bits and bobs. All the kids kept helping her pack her suitcase only for it all to fall out again, they found it hilarious.
The tour began with a short interactive play where we met two elves called Sage and Eeko. The play fun and yet informative, with a story explaining where elves come from and then teaching children the importance of caring for our environment. The elves then helped the children open up the doors to Lapland and we caught our first glimpse of the magic that awaited us. Tiny little elf cottages dusted with snow, nestled within Narnia-esque woodlands, I can imagine that as a child I would really have believed that we had been magically transported to a far away land.
Our first stop was the toy workshop, Santa's good list is super long this year so the elves needed some extra help to get all the toys ready.
The children helped the elves make a stuffed reindeer toy, which reminded me of 'build-a bear' and they also helped construct a teddy bear made from wooden blocks.
At the end they had to take the finished products back to the elves. I was a little concerned that we'd have a bit of a struggle handing back the toys but, miraculously there was no trouble.
Next we moved on to Mother Christmas' kitchen. The children sat and listened to magical stories told by Mrs Christmas and then they were asked to decorate gingerbread men.
We were then shown to the elf village where we had an hour and a half to entertain ourselves. The village is an adorable little square with christmassy shops and places to eat, all built around an ice rink which you are free to use for as long as you wish during your visit. We skated for a while and then explored the village, there were elves strolling chatting to the children and also very well behaved husky dogs. We found the elf post office and went in to write and post our Christmas letters to Santa.
What truly amazed me is how the 'elves' are constantly in character. At one point I crept off to buy some Christmas pressies and I passed some of the elves chatting together. I don't think they saw me and there wasn't really anyone around, yet they still kept in character! This authenticity is a theme that runs throughout Lapland UK and that's really what sets it apart from any other Christmas experience.
Our time at the elf village was up and finally it was our turn to meet the big guy himself. We set off on a path that took us through a winter wonderland, we even came across Santa's sleigh and some of his reindeer.
We arrived at a little cabin, deep in the forest. We were greeted by an elf called Compass who told us that he was in charge of preparing the routes for Santa to take on Christmas eve. His desk was full of maps, globes and all sorts of fascinating equipment. He asked us to sit and wait our turn to meet Father Christmas.
Father Christmas himself was brilliant and very patient with the children, who had so much to tell him! When I booked our tickets I was asked to give them some hints about things that the children had been up to which Father Christmas worked very convincingly in to the conversation, they were so excited that he knew what they had been up to! He checked his good list to see if they were on there and miraculously ( for Rufio especially) they were indeed. So Father Christmas asked us if they were allowed a small gift before Christmas and he gave them two soft and cuddly husky dogs.
I really can't describe to you how magical they whole day was, as we left my daughter said to me that it was the best day out that we have ever done as a family.
Yes, the tickets are eyewateringly expensive but when you break down all the activities through out the day then the price starts to make a bit more sense. I would find it easier to justify the cost if I thought of it as a theatre trip, craft, ice skating, family adventure day all rolled in to one, and on top of that you get to meet Father Christmas too.
The overall level of thought and care that has gone in to creating Lapland UK is just immense, with incredible attention paid to even the smallest details, making it a truly believable and magical experience.
If you do one thing with your children this Christmas then make it a trip to Lapland UK!
For the first time this year, it really feels like Autumn today. On Monday we took the children 'trick or treating' around The Boltons and it was warm enough to walk around without a coat on but not today! Its the beginning of November and there is a distinct chill in the air and the perfect opportunity for me to share my favourite pieces with you from Kaleidoscope's AW16 collection:
My standout piece from the collection, has to be this faux fur jacket. It's just so versatile and easy to wear. It a great way to dress up an outfit but works equally as well for the school run. I love to wear it mixed with jeans, a denim shirt and trainers! Be warned, it attracts a lot of attention!
I'm loving the zip detail on this polo neck, open up the zips for a cold shoulder effect ( in more ways than one!)
This birkin-esque Italian leather grab bag is so buttery soft and just beautiful. It's a bit of a Mary Poppins bag too because it holds literally everything.
Oh and the jeans, love the jeans! They come in different leg lengths too, why doesn't everyone do this?
What I like about Kaleidoscope is the fantastic quality, investment pieces with out the high price tag. You're going to fall in love with this collection, www.kaleidoscope.co.uk