20 Dec 2013

December Daily Week 2

My to-do list is long.
Time is short.
Here are some pictures.
This project heavily features washi tape! Gotta love it!
I am still loving this project.

The stamps page is shamelessly copied from Amy Tan.
But we do get some cool stamps so...

Merry Christmas all and hope that you get to relax as well as have lots of fun!
We are off to Shropshire tomorrow and then onto Bruges for New Years! Wish us luck on the plane journey!

15 Dec 2013

Us right now...

 We're goofy.
We're beaming (and drooling).
 We're chilling.
 We're furrowing.
 We're posing.
We're bathing.
We're socialising. 
 We're making new friends.
We're trifling. 

12 Dec 2013

Smitten sisters layout...

Proof that I still do scrap in 12 by 12 if its a great picture and I feel inspired.
I love this picture of my sisters and I snuggling my three day old baby.
They were both waiting when I got out of the hospital and both instantly fell in love with their gorgeous nephew.
Luckily my photographer brother-in-law was there to take some lovely pics.
I am loving the backing paper and was waiting to use it for a special layout.
I love the chevrons, little flag and the gold stripy washi tape.

I will be back soon to share some more December Daily...

9 Dec 2013

December Daily: Weekly round up

I'm very excited to be participating in Ali Edward's December Daily. I have admired these albums in the past but not had the time or patience to participate. It is ironic that with a newborn I have more time to craft than I did when I was teaching full time.
Is anyone else a bit scared about front covers? It sets the tone for your whole project so it needs to be a real showstopper. I heat embossed the '2013' and our surname and then used a gold sticker saying 'family' the rest of the background was created using washi tape and patterned paper.

I will now share my first week:
Day 1: no pictures so I just journalled about what I thought our Christmas would be like this year and bullet pointed some of the things we were most looking forward to as a family.

Day 2: A big black and white picture with a heat embossed sentiment and then some 'A Beautiful Mess' and Simple Stories journalling cards embellished with sequins and washi tape.

Day 3: A festive hot chocolate and stollen danish at a cafe with friends and on the other page some more extensive journalling about the last few days as there is only so much you can fit on a journalling card. Note that the 2013 title was created by accident from the negative for the title page - as I peeled the letter stickers off I liked what was left behind.

Day 4: a picture of the craft class I ran (complete with comic Santa hats courtesy of picmonkey my free go to photo editing site. I used some glitter glue to create the star and the tree is the negative from a punch.

Day 5: swimming lessons and decorating the tree. There is a photo missing here as it was the sepia one of the three of us in front of the tree - but I swiped it for the front cover - so I will either print it out again or find another picture from that day.

Day 6: about The Belgian's love of mince pies and a festive photo of The Baby - more embossing and plenty of holly print washi tape.
Day 7: a family outing to the garden centre to look at the twinkling lights and trying out our 'new' sling too.

I have enjoyed creating a bit every night, once The Baby is asleep, and think that I might quite enjoy Project Life as it seems more doable than a 12 by 12. Some days I just altered the journalling cards and so you can do as much or as little as you want.
The biggest challenge has been getting the pictures every day as our printer is useless and the ink costs a fortune. I have been using a mixture of instax and printing some SLR pictures out at Boots.

Are you December Dailying it?

6 Dec 2013

Foody Friday: Five Christmas Cookie Recipes

As the big day approaches I thought I would share some of my favourite cookie recipes to bake up for your families this festive season.

 Recipe here

 Recipe here

 White macadamia nut cookies - recipe here

 Four ingredient peanut butter cookies - recipe here

Salted chocolate peanut butter cookies - recipe here

What are your favourite type of cookies? 
Please share any good recipes you have...

3 Dec 2013

Dating in mummy world...

Well I knew that would get your attention! I have been musing recently how putting yourself out there on the mummy scene is a lot like putting yourself out there on the dating scene. Really? You're thinking to yourselves. Sleep deprivation is really getting to her now, but bear with me...

1) Entering a mummy group for the first time is like a blind date - or a speed dating session considering the amount of mummies in the room. The butterflies in your tummy, the apprehension, the specially chosen outfit (going for the yummy mummy look rather the slummy mummy look complete with comfy trackies / pj's, lank, unwashed hair and baby spit up on your faded maternity t.shirt) for you AND baby (as baby is now your no.1 accessory - forget your killer heels) and the introductions. It's like a speed date as you meet new mums and roll out the same q & a's:-
  • babies name
  • babies age
  • your name
  • hospital you gave birth in
  • did you know you were having a boy / girl
  • are they sleeping well?
  • are you feeding them? (As we all know, my favourite question!)
  • does your husband help?
And like a first date you have to be selective about the information you share - otherwise there won't be a second date. They don't know you very well so confiding about your not-so-secret obsession with trashy telly (Made in Chelsea Mrs B?) or your slightly geeky hobby of scrapbooking is off limits. 
Just as an aside I'm not the biggest one for small talk and often people tell me that they didn't like me or know how to take me when they first meet me. I, personally, think I am super company, but this feedback does always weigh on my mind. Both at uni and at work I had people confess this to me, once we were bosom buddies - naturally. So putting myself out there was a bit scary.
However, I am quite an extrovert and so I am not scared to start chatting to a stranger and having a baby in common is a great conversation starter. But I have found some mums to be unresponsive. I ask all the appropriate questions and then they bleat back their responses and then turn back to their baby without even asking me the polite questions back. This is the mummy world equivalent of an ignored text - even though you put a question in there. Or worse still you double text and STILL get no response.

2) The second rule of dating is to find someone who shares your common interests. My first few mummy groups didn't go so well and I kept having these one sided conversations that were never going to blossom into a 'relationship.' 
Case in point first baby sensory session I started chatting to the lady sat next to me. She seemed nice enough and we exchanged pleasantries about our baby boys. However when we started teaching the babies the sign for 'drink' she was adding wine on the end and following it up with a really raucous laugh which scared The Baby greatly. Needless to say I didn't get her number.
However, the second week I struck it lucky and was next to a fellow bottle feeder and this was enough common interest to get us chatting. It turns out she is a farmer's wife which made me smile to myself as I thought about the popular nursery rhyme and I still refer to her to The Belgian as the Farmer's Wife. 
The following week she had saved a seat for me and I felt that same buzz you get when the guy you fancy texts you. Yes! I had a friend! Yes! She saved me a seat!  

3) So in the world of dating you flirt and then one of you has to make the move. This is the stage I have been stuck at for a while. I mentioned another baby group that I attend and the Farmer's Wife has started coming to this - a small victory and a step towards true friendship. She mentioned last week a garden centre which has lots of twinkling lights that babies enjoy and I quickly said, "yes I've been there with my friend just this week." And so that ended that conversation or perhaps potential invite
I forgot that is what happens in the dating world. In fact I believe it was how my husband and I finally went on our first date as he kept casually mentioning a certain film he wanted to see. The film that, when we did go to see it, we were told off for talking too much. I guess the cinema isn't the best place for a first date. Now we are the couple that tut and get annoyed when people are talking or flirting in the cinema - how times change! 

4) Lastly, when the group runs its course (whether it be baby yoga, baby massage, baby sensory...the list goes on) there is the awkward moment of whether or not you will see each other again. I was just chatting to an actual mummy friend of mine (when I say actual we met at work rather than through the mummy scene) I was discussing my dating parallel and she totally agreed and told me she waited till the last day of a six-week course to arrange a play date with her new mummy friend. Inevitably one of you has to make the first move and suggest swapping numbers, adding on social media or meeting up for coffee or a play date at the local soft play area. Not that babies can really play, but there you go.
Then when these play dates become a regular occurrence it is the dating equivalent of 'going steady' and I guess the next step is to meet the parents (your other half of course.) 

So where do I stand? Well the Farmer's Wife has yet to ask for my digits or to suggest a play date. However last week at baby sensory a lady I have chatted to invited me to come with her and her two friends (from the group) to a soft play area after the group for a play date. I had to decline this week as I didn't have enough supplies for The Baby (one of the drawbacks of bottle feeding) but to ensure that she didn't feel this was the dating equivalent of 'washing my hair' I expressed my interest in joining them the following week. 
So a date is in the pipeline. Perhaps not my first choice but a close second. Plus that Farmer's Wife doesn't know what she's missing. Wish me luck...

1 Dec 2013

Storytelling Sunday: The Ghost of Christmas past...

Home is where the heart is.
Christmas is all about family.
So why, almost a decade ago, I decided to spend my Christmas in Zimbabwe is beyond me.
Oh yes the adventure. Plus there was this boy...
Not many people can say they spent the week between Christmas and New Years white water rafting down the Zambezi can they?
Or that they rode barefeet on a motorcycle and got chased by rabid dogs.
The strange thing was that it was hot. 
Christmas day was spent playing tennis, swimming in the pool and having a BBQ as demonstrated in these never-quite-scrapped snapshots and my crude attempts at a scrapbook on a student budget.

No turkey, no Christmas jumpers and certainly no snow.
Although it was a great trip and I love travelling when it came to Christmas Day all I wanted was to be with my family.
It didn't feel as festive as the Africans don't really put decorations up or go into the whole Western style Father Christmas.
I was really looking forward to my phone call home and then the phone lines were playing up. It was really disappointing.
I did receive an e-mail where all of the family wrote me a special message and being the geeky scrapbooker I am, I still have it.
It contained details of all of the little quirks that make a Jones family Christmas:-
  • Mom trying to open all of her presents early
  • How dad has just fallen out of the top window trying to put the Christmas lights up (then a disclaimer that he had exaggerated this fact to spice the e-mail up)
  • my little sister was wearing my older sister's engagement ring and pretending it was hers from her latest crush
  • dad commenting that he was impressed I went white water rafting as even he hasn't done that - and he's done a lot
  • my little sister doing her 'I'm so excited' Christmas Eve dance
  • my older sister asking if there was any 'talent' in Zimbabwe
  • dad doing a political rant about colonisation in Africa
  • the sisters gearing up for the traditional fight over roast potatoes
This e-mail made me cry as it reminded me of all of the creature comforts and dynamics that I was missing out on.

However, I did get to spend a few precious days with my granny in Pretoria and also get to meet and get spoilt by my Uncle Theo and Auntie Lynne, including a trip to Sun City and lots of tasty meals out. 
I saw and touched a real live elephant. 
I went zooming round on a jet ski for the first time ever - a real adrenalin rush.

The trip home was not without its hiccups.
A Zimbabwean friend of ours had asked for me to bring back this sweet orange drink that he was craving called mazowe and for some bizarre reason I decided to put it in my hand luggage. Clearly there wasn't the limit on liquids back then.
Inevitably it exploded all over my bag and ruined the postcards and souvenirs that I was bringing home with me and was a tricky clean up job in a poky toilet cubicle on the lay over in Amsterdam.
As I landed at Heathrow I was feeling excited to be reunited with my family again. 
I walked through the arrivals gate and saw a group of people with a banner drawing lots of attention to themselves.
The lady next to me commented on how embarrassing it would be if they were your family.
I squinted in their direction (as I wasn't wearing my glasses or contacts) and, yep, you've guessed it - it was my family.
They had a banner which read on one side - 'Welcome home Mel!' and on the other 'Beware Ebola Virus' with skull and crossbones either side. 
Well apparently there had been an ebola outbreak in Zim when I was there and so they had hatched this plan to come to the airport in masks and this banner - luckily they ditched the masks.
Well I tried to steer my baggage trolley in the opposite direction and wanted the ground to swallow me up.
But this was what I had missed after all. 
My crazy family and their quirky sense of humour.
So I steered it back in their direction and it was hugs and kisses and giggles all around.

I am sad that Storytelling Sunday is coming to an end, but just look at the X-Factor you can have too much of a good thing. I have enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane with you all and sharing your experiences, photos and precious'. Thanks Sian for inspiring this community of storytellers.

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