Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Why I'm going pro in 2015...

In March I will have been blogging for 9 years. For most of that time I have refused to regard it as anything other than a very nice hobby.

When I left mainstream media in 2012, I decided I needed new skills to take back to the workplace one day, so I committed 20 hours a week (and a not insignificant student loan) to studying graphic design and I completely ignored the skills I was acquiring through blogging. Even when an income and creative opportunities started coming in from this blog, I still thought it was an indulgence to invest my time in it and I ploughed on with studying.

And then I had an epiphany.

I told someone recently that this year I was going to "go pro" with my blogging and they asked what that meant. To me it means I will treat it like a business. I can see some of you shuddering at the thought of this, but I sincerely believe this change will be for the better.

Going pro is going to mean many things, but mostly it will mean better quality content, better planned posts and collaborations that benefit everyone. It will mean I can spend time doing the creative stuff I love without feeling it is an extravagance. It will not mean this blog becomes a dumping ground for impersonal content and advertising. I would hate that as much as you.

My sister Jane has agreed to work with me on some projects. She's already collaborated on a couple of posts and is a great stylist and photographer (she took the photo of me in this post)

So here is some of what I plan to do this year...

* In the next few days I will be moving to a redesigned self-hosted Wordpress blog.
* I will be producing more video content.
* There will  be more food and craft tutorials, some video based, some photographic
* I will be writing a business plan and setting targets
* I will introduce an editorial calendar to allow me to plan posts
* I will read, comment on and promote other blogs
* Each month I will concentrate on one social media channel or aspect of blogging and dedicate time to learning about it and sharing that information with you, for January this will be Facebook.
* I will share my progress 'Going Pro' with you in a monthly summary on this blog and more regularly over on Facebook and on a dedicated Pinterest board. Please join me there.

Are you intrigued? I hope you are. There will be stuff to be learned for all of us this year and I promise to share it.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

A year of portraits...

Back in February I stumbled across a weekly linky on which invited people to take a photo a week of their children and record their development. I joined in week 5 and today is the last of the year. It's been a brilliant project that has resulted in some lovely portraits of Theo (and a few that weren't quite so good!)

I think what it proves more than anything is that having a photo project of any kind is a wonderful thing as it challenges you to stretch yourself and capture moments that might otherwise slip by. My editing has also improved as I've had one image a week to play around with an achieve the best from. As I share my last portrait of 2014, I wanted to also share some of my favourite pictures I took for Living Arrows. 11 months that capture the transition from toddlerhood to boyhood.

theo090214_2 Feb1614_Theo Funny face rapefield1 270414_1 cooldude1 theobed theo_080614a raspberry theo_140714 It's tough being three doddle5 pumpkinboy_edit eh_2_edit At the beach

And the last one...


It's hard to pick a favourite, but I find the ones where he is sad are so powerful and they seem to tell a story. Next year Hayley will be hosting Living Arrows and I plan to continue to join the linky, there are so many moments here I might have lost otherwise.

living arrows

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Retro Skates Giveaway with Skate Hut


Christmas may have passed, but Santa may still have a treat in store for you. I've teamed up with Skate Hut to give away a pair of these brilliant Rookie Retro Roller Skates in any size. I remember having a similar pair of quad skates in the 80s and I'm pleased to see that they are still every bit as popular with kids now as they were then.

These skates have a soft suede effect trainer style boot, heavy duty chassis, stitched vinyl stripes and colour co-ordinated wheels. They are suitable for indoor and outdoor use and come in UK junior 12 to size 8 adult. If you win, you could choose a pair for you or for a child you know... or if you are lucky like me, you might know a 12 year-old you know who has the same size feet as you!

Win Retro Roller Skates 15879863017_373620f57f_k 16070303142_6cc3555449_k 

So if you fancy winning a pair all you have to do is enter via Rafflecopter below...

Thank you to Aisla & Millie for their help with the skates!

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Slowing down for Christmas...

I can't quite believe that this is my penultimate contribution to Living Arrows this year. I'm really looking forward to doing a round up of all the photos from the year and examining how Theo has grown and my photography has changed.

This will also probably be my last post before Christmas. Whilst it may seem quiet here at the moment, there is some frantic paddling going on beneath the surface and plans are forming, more of which I will reveal in the new year.

I love this period of peace and quiet before Christmas. Particularly if all the shopping is done and the cards are written. There is no obligation to go anywhere and some time to catch up with things whilst the rest of the world has slowed down a bit.

I hope you have a lovely time however you are spending the festive period. I'll be popping back in after Christmas for a giveaway and to share some captures from our family Christmas, but until then eat, drink and be merry!

living arrows

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tour of a masculine bathroom...

A few weeks ago I showed you some photos of my mum's newly renovated en-suite and promised you as glimpse of my dad's when it was complete. For those of you who missed that first post, I should explain that yes, my parents have two en-suite bathrooms which are both a compact 2 metres square.

As they are positioned next to internal walls, they have a Velux instead of a window for light and at night they are lit by LED spots which means they are always light and bright.

Whilst my mum's en suite is great in its own right. I think my dad's is rather special. He's managed to pull off something quite clever by making it masculine and yet not dull. Once again this was a room that originally had a corner shower which has been ripped out and replaced with a larger walk-in enclosure. Both the toilet and sink are wall hung and there's a heated LED mirror and tiled recesses for storage.

The space has been used really well throughout and it shows how a little bit of planning can really pay off with bathroom design. My dad also deserves a mention for something else... Look how clean this bathroom is! It is actually literally spotless and he's been using it for several weeks. I might have to ask him how he keeps his shower door so immaculate, though I suspect that a water softener plays a big part!

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Monday, December 15, 2014

A winter's morning at the beach...

As you may have seen from my post yesterday, we spent Saturday morning down at the beach at East Head filming part of our video entry for this year's Mark Warner ambassador application. It was pretty cold, but it's really lovely having the beach so empty at this time of year.

Theo was running through the grass telling us he was exploring a jungle whilst the dogs were leaping up and down the dunes following the scent of rabbits and Jim and I were enjoying soaking up some winter sunshine.

As I hinted last week I have made the decision to leave my graphic design degree at the end of the first academic year in a few weeks. There is so much I want to do next year. Some of it work related and some it about making the most of this lovely spot we live in. I'll reveal a bit more in the new year, but I feel that 2015 is going to be a brilliant exciting year.

One of the things that has affected my decision to leave my course was how creatively drained I felt after hammering out 20 hours a week of study and so by making the decision to quit, it has lifted a huge weight and meant that suddenly things like Theo's weekly portrait have become a pleasure again and not an obligation. 

Jim would say that none of this is a huge surprise and that I constantly take on too much, but that is something us women specialise in isn't it? I guess the art is to learn which things help us grow and which drag us down and adjust accordingly.

Linking up with Katie and...

living arrowssnowingindoors

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

I want to be a #MarkWarnerMum

I'm sure it won't surprise you to know that the shorter days and colder weather has recently had us daydreaming about next year's summer holiday. I stumbled across Katie's (Mummy Daddy Me) review of the Levante Beach Resort in Rhodes a few weeks ago and made a mental note that it looked like it would suit us perfectly. Then only days later I found out that Mark Warner are searching for next year's blogging ambassadors.

They want bloggers to tell them a little bit about their family and what the ingredients would be for their perfect family holiday.

We are a family of three, though really I think my husband thinks we're a family of five, as my GoPro and DSLR go everywhere with us. Despite living in Canada and Cyprus early in our marriage, we've never actually had a family holiday abroad, although last summer we did go to the Isle Of Wight which I believe technically could be classed as "overseas"

As a family we love watersports (Jim and I are both PADI and RYA qualified) photography (mostly me behind the camera and Jim and Theo as my long suffering subjects) and good food, but rather than give you a really long blog post to read, we thought it would be a lot easier to make a video so you can get to know us better and see what would make our perfect holiday.

I won't lie, filming on a beach in the middle of December wasn't very idyllic, but if we can make that look good, just imagine how good we could make a Mark Warner resort look...

Linking up with Hollybobs and Jenny...

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Friday, December 12, 2014

#TassimoPerfectHost Festive Coffee Morning

The run up to Christmas is a great time for a catch up with friends and when Tassimo asked me to take part in their #TassimoPerfectHost campaign and try out one of their coffee machines and a couple of recipes by John Torode, I leapt at the chance.

Friends and family are more likely to catch up over drinks and coffee during the winter months than at any other time of year. So I decided to round up the ladies for a festive coffee morning and who better to sample John's whiskey brownie and shortbread biscuits than a few of my fellow Clandestine Cake Club members and a couple of my neighbours.

The Tassimo machine is a rather clever gadget as it doesn't just make coffee, it also does frothy tops for capuccino, tea, hot chocolate and babycinnos. In fact we said the only thing missing from the Tassimo range is a mulled wine pod to pop into the machine - I'd like to take credit for that when they start selling them next Christmas!

As part of their Perfect Host campaign Tassimo have recruited a team of experts to help your festive gathering go smoothly this year. Fashion designer and former Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh recommends thinking about lighting to get the mood right "candles and lamps can be used to soften a room" (I also think fairy lights work wonders at this time of year) whilst coffee expert Hazel Middleton suggests preparing cakes the day before "to avoid panic on the morning."

Not only did we try out John's whiskey infused brownie at our coffee morning, but I also made his shortbread biscuits and served them with Affogatto, otherwise known as vanilla ice-cream drenched in hot coffee. It was a big hit and a lovely indulgent winter treat . In fact the Tassimo machine was such a success, that one of my neighbours invited herself over again this morning to have "another one of those lovely coffees" but I'd actually run out!

If you'd like to try making your own Affogatto, here's John's recipe...

John Torode’s Affogatto with Short Bread Biscuits

You will need:

• 4 bowls
• biscuits
• 8 scoops of vanilla ice cream
• 4 individual espressos

Ingredients (for the shortbread):

 • 200g plain flour
• 90g caster sugar
• 60g ground almonds
• 200g butter chopped into bits
• 1 egg
• The zest of half a lemon
• 2 drops vanilla essence
• pinch of table salt


1. Put the flour, sugar and almonds in a food processor and whizz at full speed for a few seconds. Add the butter and whizz again briefly; the mixture should resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add egg, lemon zest and vanilla essence, then whizz again briefly until the pastry forms into a ball.

2. Scrape contents onto a sheet of cling film, then either shape into a rough ball or roll into a cylinder shape, roughly 5cm in diameter.

3. Wrap and chill the biscuit dough for at least 2 hours. You can also freeze it or make a few days ahead and keep in the fridge.

4. Cut into flat discs or stars. Bake in a preheated oven at 190C on a flat baking sheet for 12-15 minutes

5. Once baked and cooled, serve on the side of your affogatto.

Big thank you to my sister Jane for taking photos of our gathering and to Tassimo for inviting us to join the #TassimoPerfectHost campaign. 

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