Sunday, 28 September 2014

DIY PicMonkey Birthday Invitations

DIY Picmonkey Birthday Chalkboard Invitations

With Henry's 1st birthday quickly approaching, I thought I had better sort out some invitations for his birthday party. I was all set to buy a digital file on Etsy when I suddenly realised I could easily make what I wanted myself, using PicMonkey. I already love using the site to easily edit my photographs, and now with the fairly recent addition of the 'Design' feature, I was able to quickly whip up some customised chalkboard birthday invitations.
DIY Picmonkey Birthday Chalkboard Invitations

Here's how to do it… 

1. Click 'Design' from the PicMonkey homepage and resize to 1800 x 1200
2. Upload a chalkboard background by clicking on the butterfly icon (overlays) and clicking 'Your Own.' I found mine through a simple Google image search. Position to cover half the white space.
3. A customised invite wouldn't be the same without a photo of the birthday boy, so add anther overlay as above and insert your chosen photo. Enlarge and position to cover the other half.
4. Now for the fun stuff, adding overlays and text! I've listed the fonts I used above. You can make an invite absolutely free using the standard features available, but I couldn't resist the font 'Sketch Block' which seemed to match the whole chalkboard theme, so I signed up for one month's Royale subscription (costing around £3) which gave me access to it.
5. Then it's just a matter of resizing, moving things around and changing the colour scheme so everything comes together nicely. 

Save it, and either go digital and send out via email, or alternatively, I used Vistaprint to  print a small batch, costing a mere £10 (including envelopes!) A lovely customised invitation for a non-cutomised price!

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Sunday, 21 September 2014

Etsy Finds - Mean Girls

Can you believe the iconic Mean Girls is already 10 years old?! I love how it's become a cult classic, adored my many and re-watched over and over again. Along with Romy & Michele's High School Reunion, it's my favourite film for great one-liners. In celebration of enjoying a decade of the film that brought high school drama, bitchiness and Regina George into our worlds, here are my favourite Etsy pieces featuring quotes from the film...

Don't you love them? My favourite has to be the You Go Glen Coco mug, it'll definitely be making an appearance on my birthday wish list!

Etsy are offering £5 off your first Etsy purchase, just click here to redeem now or use later to buy something you’ll love.

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Etsy Finds - Nursery Decor
Etsy Finds - Pretty Pastels
Etsy Finds - Toys

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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Three Ingredient Dairy-Free Pancakes

dairy free pancakes
dairy free banana pancakes

Pancakes are one of my favourite breakfast foods, so much so that I indulge in them frequently throughout the year, not just on Shrove Tuesday. Henry's at the age now where he wants whatever we're having, but with him currently being dairy-free, I had to set my beloved Fluffy American Style Pancakes aside and look for an alternative that was quick, easy, and most importantly, free from milk. These pancakes take minutes from start to finish, use only three ingredients and taste amazing. All you need to hand is...

- 4 eggs
- 2 bananas
- 1/2 cup rolled oats 

I use Readybrek oats as we always have some in the house for Henry's porridge, plus it contains added calcium for extra goodness. If you're feeling fancy, you can also add in 1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract and/or a little baking powder for extra oomph.
- Place your pan over medium-low heat and allow to warm while you prep your pancakes.
- Add the oats, bananas and eggs to a blender and blitz for 30 seconds.
- I always start with a small test pancake, and then move onto the bigger sizes. Once the edges appear done, flip over and cook for an extra minute and remove from heat.
- Stack the pancakes on a plate and add the topping of your choice. For myself, I add lashings of maple syrup. For Henry, I add some chopped fresh fruit - blueberries, strawberries or peaches all work well. 

Easy, delicious, and healthy.

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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Henry's 10 Month Update

Henry is 11 months old today, how did that happen so quickly?! Before I go off on a tangent about how quickly his first birthday is approaching, I'll give an update on his 10th month, which has been my absolute favourite age of his so far. His personality is developing in leaps and bounds and due to all the new skills he's mastering which allow him to engage and interact more than ever, we have so much fun together. He is such a happy little chappy, constantly smiling and laughing, and I adore spending time with him.

It's during this past month that Henry seems to have suddenly morphed into a little boy. It's as though he went to sleep one evening and overnight transformed from a baby to a toddler. I look at him now, with his sandy blonde hair, big blue eyes and pouty lips, and can so clearly how he will look at 2, 3, 4 years old. He suddenly looks so much older and although it's bittersweet that his baby days are behind us, I love witnessing the person he is becoming.

Weight & Height: Plodding along nicely on the 50th centile, Henry weighed 20lbs 2oz at 10 months. We suspected he'd had a growth spurt as he looked bigger and had been sleeping more, and it was confirmed when we measured him - he'd grown 3cm within a month, so he's now shot up to the 91st centile for height.

Health: Henry finally had his first cold. I like to think he managed so long without one due to being breastfed for his first 5 months, but maybe we just got lucky. He coped with it very well and remained surprisingly chipper considering he had a constant stream of snot trickling out of his little nose.

DislikesSudden loud noises. Rhyme time at the library was all well and good until the line 'if you see a crocodile, don't forget to scream,' was sung, and suddenly the room erupted with the shrieks of 10 adults and children. Henry promptly burst into tears!

Likes: Henry's fine motor skills have been honed and he now enjoys playing with his stacking cups and stacking ring - Matt and I still get very excited when he does this and find it very impressive! He's also learned how to place lids back onto things, so he loves spending time doing so with his toy pots, pans and kettle. 

Henry has always loved looking at photos, and as I've recently been working on his 1st year album, he loves to sit on my lap and have a flick through, giggling at his favourites. He's developed a fondness of a particular photo of me, taken when I was pregnant with him, which he likes to carry about with him once he's found it.

Henry delights in the company of other children, particularly ones older than him. His face lights up when he sees a child nearby, he often lets out a chuckle, and if he's on foot, he toddles after them and reaches out to touch them. Unfortunately, the eagerness to interact is not often reciprocated, and the older children usually make a swift exit, much to mine and Henry's dismay! Children his own age respond better thankfully, and he's made a few little friends during his activities. For that reason, he loves swimming and going to the library, (where he recently got his very first library card) as there are plenty of children to fascinate him.

Milestones: Henry took his first steps this month! He's been cruising around furniture and toddling whilst holding on to my fingers for a while now, but one day the desire to pick up an (unlit) tealight proved enough temptation for him to face the fear and take a few unsteady steps unaided.  He can stand on his own for a short while but he's not yet made any more attempts at walking on his own. He's cut his two front teeth so he now has a grand total of four. I love seeing his toothy grin!
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With only one month left until his first birthday, I'm in full party planning mode, arranging decorations, planning party food and ordering presents. I love the things we've chosen for him - a few special items I hope he will cherish for years to come. I'll be sure to dedicate a blog post to Henry's big day once it's over, with all the details and special touches!

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Saying Goodbye

"Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved" - Iris Murdoch

William and Noah are never far from my mind. Their presence lingers with me always. I carry them in my heart, an integral part of my being. In the first year after their death, grief overwhelmed me and I embraced it, knowing that I needed to feel the intensity of the pain to help me towards healing. But since Henry was born, grief has taken a back seat. It's not that my grief is being hidden, but rather, it has become a part of everyday life. It is always with me, but it's no longer at the forefront of my day. Being a mother to a ten-month-old means it isn't possible to look through William and Noah's memory box and photos regularly. When a wave of debilitating grief rides in, I can't curl up in bed and stay there for the day. I have to set it aside for the time being so I can be the mother Henry needs.

Even though life is better now, and we're at a place where we never imagined we could be again, there is still that hole that is left by the absence of our sons. Even in the happiest, purest moment, our family will never be complete, there will always be two missing. As Elizabeth McCracken writes, "It's a happy life, but someone is missing.But grieving and taking time to think about the boys is still something I need to do. I want and need to create space and time for them, to focus on our time together and love and grieve them. 

The magnitude of losing a child is immense - it is a devastating, life changing event, and whilst a few bereaved parents may be blessed with a strong support network around them, they can never truly understand. Often there can be an awkwardness when you talk about your child, your grief, and eventually you stop. And in this way, the grief of losing your child can be so very isolating. 

And that is how Saying Goodbye helped us. Attending one of their remembrance services (open to anyone who has lost a child - during pregnancy, at birth or in infancy) allowed us to honour William and Noah in a special and significant way, alongside other bereaved parents who know the pain of losing a child. 

We gathered in a cathedral for the service, in all its ethereal splendour, to rejoice, remember and grieve our children's lives, with others who knew. Here, we didn't need to describe the raw, primal pain that resides within our chest, it was already felt by those around us. We stood beside those who knew that there is no expiration date or time limit on grief, that a bereaved parent never moves on, they only become more accustomed to the pain. A beautiful unspoken bond between strangers. 

Seated in the pews, we listened as the majestic expanse was filled with moving words, poignant lyrics, reverent poetry. Each bereaved parent stood to light a candle for their child, the flickering flames creating a wave of light. The delicate chime of bells resonated and rose through the air, each one signifying the loss of a baby. A bittersweet melody of melancholy. Such touching tributes for the precious lives who mean so much to those who love them. In this sacred space, tears fell freely, each one symbolising the eternal love and pain that is felt. 

No awkwardness, no uncomfortable silences. 

Just purity, love and understanding.

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