Sunday, 17 December 2017

It's that time of year again!

We had our annual family photo session with the inimitable Laura Aziz a few weeks ago (a couple of weeks after the twins' birthday again) and this time we aimed for that glorious golden hour of light.  We engineered an early nap for the twins and woke them early to make our way to Sheffield Park, TOTALLY worth it!

As always, I am utterly thrilled with our photos.  I had a mentoring session with Laura last weekend (which you'll be hearing more about soon) and we discussed my reasons for wanting to go into business as Bexphoto and I have plans to adjust my website to more clearly express those reasons but one of those reasons is this feeling, when we receive our photos and I have Laura to thank for that.  As always, I've struggled massively to narrow down my favourites for a blog post.  And will have the same issue when it comes to printing, need more frames.  And more walls.

Yet again, she's captured our every day, just our walk around Sheffield Park and yet, it is magical.  The light, the expressions, she's not only recorded this moment in time for us but she's made beautiful art of our afternoon.  All of it, Priya's cheeky looks and self-conscious tongue-sticking-out pose, Kalyan's "map reading", the tears when they fall over, the giggles, the joy and most of all - our love.

For any concerned readers, this is not how Priya travelled, I sorted her out properly when I got in the car ;)

There's just one more part, I promise!

Friday, 15 December 2017

Cable & Cotton lights - Brighton store experience

If you love colour like I do, you must visit the Cable & Cotton shop in Brighton!  I already have a set of their lights in green and grey (our wedding colours) from 2011 but now they do LED ones and after seeing their window display for Brighton Pride, I knew we needed a new set for the twins' room in rainbow colours.  When Ma asked what she could get the twins for Christmas this year, I knew just the thing!  

I'd already had a look online at the colours but wanted to see them in the gradient to know which ones would look best (the online tool shows them in a random muddle) so we went along to the store in Brighton's Lanes a couple of weeks ago.  I'd been past a few times but never actually been in, it's a beautiful array of lovely bright colours and they had their Christmas wreath made up of their lights in the window.

Priya loved taking the coloured balls out of each container for me as I decided which ones would look best.  (I wish I'd taken my camera out sooner and got some photos of her having fun.)  I knew I'd have 3 of some and 4 of others so wanted to see the whole line up to decide which would look best with more.  They're cleverly held in by a zig-zag of elastic so you just pull them through as you select your choices, it's so much fun filling up your basket!

I'm so excited to put them on the lights and get them up in their room on Christmas day!  The new LED lights mean they're one long string rather than a loop like my old ones, as well as being more energy efficient and safer of course so we might use these as their new nightlight depending how bright they are.  It might stop Kalyan putting the big light on as they like to read in bed and he gets out to put the main light on most evenings!

I opted for the longest option with 50 balls so I can cluster them up together and get a dramatic look of the rainbow gradient.  I love the colours I've chosen and was chuffed to be asked in the store if I was an artist as I had a good eye for colours ;)

My selection on the counter.
I'm now thinking I may have to add one more green and swap out a Mandarin Red, any excuse for another visit!

The 50 ball length was £42 in store which is cheaper than I was expecting as they're £49.95 online although I often see codes for 10% or 15% off.  That includes the new USB plug but you can add a 3 pin plug adaptor for £4.95.  If you're not sure which colours to go for out of the 49 options, they also have some pre-chosen sets available, I like the buttercup with yellow and greys.

I'm quite tempted to get a little set for the guest room revamp too!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Plans and funks

I always have so many grand ideas of what I can and want to achieve.  I often make lists of what's coming up on the blog (usually without time limits as I know how rubbish I am at sticking to deadlines when life is so busy) and quite often, the posts I have planned never appear.  They're usually started but never finished as life gets in the way.  I sometimes burnout when it comes to editing as I take so many photos and get behind, more so now I have genuine deadlines for client sessions, and think I'll go back to that after a break but then it seems silly as the moment's passed, the twins' birthday party for example, I've barely looked at those photos but now it seems a bit random to post on the blog as no-one will be interested in Halloween at Christmas time.  I feel like I'm always chasing my tail at this time of year.

Anyway, I have so many things I wanted to write about this month including a local small business gift guide (I have SO many lovely items in mind), about our Christmas decorations, some of my favourite Christmas decs in the shops (I'm loving all the bright quirky ones this year, although what's with all the Llamas!?), an amazing looking new family festival we're attending next summer, my thoughts on the twins turning 3, the challenges of twin 3-year-olds so far, a long over due "best bits" with some of the super cute funny things they have to say, a gingerbread latte cake (which I've yet to make along with a much delayed Christmas cake), LOADS of home plans and now an awesome before/after of the downstairs loo which I love but is yet to be finished off with some kind of artwork.  Oh and the guest room which I wanted to ask about your tips for bedside tables, bedding and other items to finish it off since it was painted!

Even this blog post, I started on Friday thinking I could bash out my thoughts while the kids were at pre-school but despite starting, I lost my mojo and ended up wrapping presents while watching The Grinch.  Still, another job ticked off the list.

Instead of having time to write about all of the above, I've been in a bit of a funk.  With Kalyan's ear infection coinciding with some major work stress which had already been affecting my sleep, I was pretty much a zombie, then he got better.  Then he got the sickness bug.  Who needs sleep anyway??  I've been busy trying to get a family session gallery finished ready to send to a client, buy Christmas presents, wrap Christmas presents, work, work extra days to try to meet targets, prepare everything that needs to be done for pre-school, prepare everything else for Christmas (the house, tree, etc), sort the house out in general.  There have been more solo parenting evenings than usual so I'm pretty much generally knackered and have been feeling pretty low.

So there you have it, my rambling reasons for neglecting the blog yet again.  People often ask me how I fit it all in with the photography, the blog and my hobbies plus work and the twins.  I usually manage but sometimes I need to let certain things take a back seat and focus on my main priorities, the twins, work and just getting through the days.  Any down time I've had, I just needed to shut off from all the stress and have been soaking up Christmas films in an effort to cheer up and feel festive while eating very non-healthy things!  It's working though, with a bit of sleep, I'm now feeling much better although still have a mountain of stuff to organise/get done but hopefully you'll be seeing more of me again here shortly!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Christmas Jumper Round Up 2017 - Grown up edition

Christmas jumpers aren't just for the kiddies!  I LOVE getting my festive wear on all through December.

Links are included below pictures for your convenience, some of these are affiliate links.

For the ladies...

L-R: Sequin Star Jumper - £32, M&Co., Red Prosecco Jumper - £15, MatalanWake me up Jumper - £16, Asda

I love the sparkly stars from M&Co (who currently have 25% off and free delivery!) and that one can be worn all winter.  The others have sequins too because what's Christmas without some sparkle!?

And for the menfolk...

L-R: Penguin Jumper - £26, NextSanta Jumper - £18, MatalanSanta Beard - £30, Next

And for something a little different, why not get a personalised family sweatshirt from Ellie Ellie, a local Brighton based company?  I like this bauble design but they also have other options.

Obviously one of my absolute favourites is the Little Bird Fairisle Jumper from Mothercare because it comes in Mummy size too.  I like to occasionally match the twins to each other so for me to be able to join in too is fun and they love it!  I said before that this one is maternity but I find it fits fine as a baggy jumper (I bought XL) without the belly being too baggy as there's no ruching at the sides.  As it's Fairisle and not overly Christmas themed, it'll be great all winter too!

Friday, 1 December 2017

Santa at The Llama Park - review

Santa has arrived at The Llama Park in East Sussex and he is amazing, as he should be, because he's definitely the real deal, no Santa's helpers here.

We were invited along to Santa's Grotto at The Llama Park for the twins to meet Father Christmas himself on Sunday.  I wasn't sure how they'd take to him, having previously refused to even enter the same room, leaping into our arms and not even accepting presents from him (1-year-old Priya even threw her soft toy back at him on the train the first time they met him).  Luckily they seem to have gotten over it, a new understanding of presents may have something to do with it, they are now big fans!

As we entered Santa's Grotto, we found ourselves in a mystical forest with elves in the trees before we made our way into an igloo at the North Pole, surrounded by twinkling lights and with places to sit and draw.  By Santa's cabin, we were greeted by two friendly elves who invited the twins to write their Christmas wishes for Santa (we skipped that since they can't write yet), before we were taken in to meet the man himself.

Santa's cosy little cottage was beautifully decorated, he was surrounded by letters from children, his own little Christmas tree and decorations as well as his sacks of presents of course.

The twins were quite happy to stand and chat with him, cheerfully accepted their presents and said thank you.  Not so keen to stand next to him for a photo though but they did climb into his sleigh for a few pics afterwards.

They couldn't wait to open their presents!  Priya received a set of butterfly wings and Kalyan a dinosaur egg to hatch.  They also both received a book about Santa which we've been waiting for December to read to them, although Priya did take over in the grotto when K opened his!

I was really impressed with the grotto, it's so beautifully decorated and Santa is wonderful, he was great chatting with the kids and so patient with them, you can tell he loves children and enjoys talking with them.  The twins were so excited to go in and loved all the twinkling lights.  You can also see another one of my photos from Santa on this month's Uckfield Matters magazine out next week!

After we left the grotto we explored the Llama Park itself, finding Santa's reindeer, the play area with bouncy castle and playhouse as well as the shop and of course Llamas!

There are beautiful views across Ashdown Forest and some gorgeous Peruvian gifts in the shop, it's a lovely place to visit.

Family tickets for Santa's Grotto cost £38 for 2 adults and 2 children which includes entry to the Llama Park to see all the animals.

Santa is there every weekend from now until Christmas Eve and on weekdays from 11th December and you can call 01825 712 040 to reserve your Grotto visit and/or Christmas lunch.

We received free tickets to Santa's Grotto in return for this review.  As always, all reviews are our own honest opinion.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Christmas Films for kids & big kids ;)

I LOVE a Christmas movie.  I'm a big fan of Christmas and the time leading up to it and have done for years, even pre-twins.  Now that the kids are that bit older, I'm hoping there will be even more magic in it for them too and I'll be introducing them to some Christmas films this year now that they've finally succumbed to my brain-washing on Disney and other fab films.  Not really brain washing but they were never interested before and only wanted Bing (WHICH I HATE!) but I persevered and after an inital love of only "Froggy" (The Princess & the Frog), they now love Tangled,  "Monsters" (Inc.) - I adore it when Kalyan says Mike Wazowski - I NEED to get that on camera!

So here are some of my favourite Christmas themed films suitable for youngsters (not necessarily toddlers though).  Please tell me yours and which ones you would recommend for 3-year-olds!?

Home Alone of course, such a fun film with adventure, silliness, plenty of Christmas spirit and a bit of cheesy love stuff.

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