Wednesday, 27 December 2017

The big Christmas clearout!

I hope you've all had a lovely Christmas!  We've thoroughly enjoyed our quiet Christmas at home, just what was needed after such a busy year and it was so much fun seeing the twins really getting excited this year.  Other than the general excitement, one of my favourite things about Christmas Day and that weird limbo time before New Year, is sorting stuff!  Even as a child, I remember the joy in finding homes for all my new things, sorting out old stuff, having a clear out and tidying everything away.  Yep, always a nerd me.  Lots of that stuff was stationery.  Always loved some good stationery.

I actually started the big clear out before Christmas as we are finally getting some bits of the house sorted after we inherited a little money recently.  I've already managed to get a lot of the spare room sorted and after trying to give stuff away with no success (and FAR too many time wasters stressing me out and making me grumpy), we've organised a furniture collection by a local charity shop.  It's so close to being finished but I need your help on that below, we're stuck on some replacement furniture choices!

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Off The Wall Entertainment - Christmas disco review

We were thrilled when Gemma from Off The Wall Entertainment invited the twins to come along to her Christmas disco on Christmas Eve eve!


Thursday, 21 December 2017

Support Local pop-up in Tunbridge Wells

On Sunday we went along to our first Support Local pop-up event in Tunbridge Wells.  The pop-up was located in the lovely One Warwick Park hotel near The Pantiles.  There were so many lovely independent businesses selling a really good variation of goods.  It was lots of fun shopping with so many local makers and sellers all in one place, we bought quite a few Christmas presents, including a couple of things for us/the house!  I love discovering new local businesses, we like to shop small and find different things to those you can find on the high street.

My favourite item we bought was a really unusual vase from Five Nordic Swans who sell various Nordic goods.  It's perfect for our newly re-decorated guest room, I can't wait to share photos of the room when it's finished!

Clockwise from top left: Five Nordic Swans,  The English Beagle, Peachy Pottery

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Our Christmas Tree & other decorations 2017

Every year I've planned to post about our decorations and I don't think I've managed it once since having the twins!  I struggle to keep up with everything at this time of year and end up thinking I'll take the photos and write it ready for next year!  Happened once in 2015.  So I'm surprised at myself for getting this year's decorations photographed and on the blog before Christmas!

Uckfield's Late Night Shopping event

I'm trying to catch up on posts about events we managed to attend in December and Uckfield's Late Night Shopping evening is always a highlight.  I attended this year solo with the twins so only have phone photos to share but as usual we had a lot of fun and loved the local festive atmosphere.

 Local juggler with his fire throwing show in the High Street.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Simple Toddler Christmas Craft - Potato stamping Cards/Wrapping

I meant to order cards with the photos I took of the twins in their jumpers at Ashdown Forest but it's a bit late now.  (See a mock up of the designs below though, looks like it'll be e-cards this year again!)

As we needed some physical cards for teachers at pre-school and the childminder to give with our thank you/Merry Christmas gifts, I decided we should make some.  Rather than just random painting or anything too taxing given the sleep deprivation lately (it's sadly ongoing again as Kalyan now has a cough after everything else!), I thought potato stamping would be a good bet.  I halved a potato, carved out a simple Christmas Tree on each side (to avoid arguments) and put some green paint onto a paper plate.


My Christmas song playlist

Christmas tunes, one of the best things in the run up to Christmas (as long as they don't start too early!) is hearing all of my old favourite festive songs.  I'm sure everyone has a favourite and mine is good old Mariah - All I want for Christmas.  I love the beginning in particular, it's my guilty pleasure to sing along and belt it out in secret (singing is not one of my talents I can assure you)!


Monday, 18 December 2017

The second half - photo session with Laura Aziz.

Of course I had more than 22!  So many stunning photos, I can't thank you enough lovely Laura, you've captured the heart of us in such a beautiful, real way.  Snot bubbles and all, this is us!  xx


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 ;)

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!  


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.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

SANTA!!!

On Sunday we met Santa at The Llama Park, he's the real deal.  I believe.

Full review of the experience to follow but here he is, in his beautiful, cosy cabin...


I'll be sharing more photos of Santa and his reindeer in our full review soon but one of my photos is exclusively gracing the cover of Uckfield Matters' December issue (I've seen a sneaky peek and I love it)!  Out early next week, look out for your copy filled with exciting local news, stories and events.  I'm looking forward to joining the writing team next year too!  :)

Monday, 27 November 2017

Preview from Laura Aziz - twin family session aged 3

It's that time of year again, when we invite the awesome talent that is Laura Aziz of baby, picture this, to hang out with us for a couple of hours (sneakily extended by me offering to pick her up half way so we could natter in the car!) while she makes beautiful art out of our lives.

She knows I've booked her every year until she retires and here's why...


Sunday, 26 November 2017

Into Mills 20% discount code

As promised to those of you who didn't win our recent giveaway of Into Mill's gorgeous mugs.  Sally has kindly offered Olive Dragonfly readers a whopping 20% off! 

Photos by www.bexphoto.com

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Mums The Word #WildChild Halloween Party - event review

This has taken me longer to write than I hoped but it's the busiest time of year for me with the twins birthday right before the lead up to Christmas, plus my day job has been extra busy and a bit stressful lately plus I'm working on getting bexphoto up and running properly so I'm wearing pretty thin at the moment!  I've also got my first radio chat with Jacqui at Uckfield FM this morning at 11:30!  You can listen in live on the website if you're not local, just follow the Uckfield FM link and click on LISTEN LIVE at the top of the page.  (There's a webcam too so I better get myself organised so I don't look a mess!)

Anyway, as well as being my most busy time of year, October onwards is also one of my favourite times!  I love Autumn, the light and the colours but especially Halloween!  As well as the twins' birthday party being a little early this year with a Halloween theme, we also attended a massive Halloween toddler/baby rave party near Tunbridge Wells at Salomon's Estate.  Run by Mums The Word Events, #Wild_Child parties are events designed just for little ones and their parents.  I first came across them at Joy Festival back in May where they held one in the woods with bubbles, dancing, crafts galore and generally a lot of colour and fun.  I was there without the twins but thought they'd love it so I was thrilled to be invited along to photograph and enjoy their Halloween event with the whole family after meeting the lovely sisters behind Mums the Word at a Mamas Meetup in Brighton (another one I've yet to write about as well as their Mamas Supper Club quiz which was a great laugh).


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Blackberry Farm birthday party

The twins were invited along to a birthday party at Blackberry Farm last weekend and had a great time (in between tantrums and clinging to me that is)!  It wasn't our party so I'm not going to "review" it but I will say it was awesome and the twins and all the other kids had so much fun!  I have permission from the Mum to share a few photos with you of her little boy's awesome day out with his friends.

We started off meeting by the cafe before all heading through to the petting area with rabbits and guinea pigs.  Most of the little ones were great, sitting down patiently waiting for their turn to hold or stroke the animals.  The twins were in a bit of a funny mood (possibly related to my stress dealing with a poorly timed tantrum as we left the house - all Priya's fault declaring that it was HER birthday and no one else could have any cake, setting Kalyan off crying and complaining to me that Priya said he couldn't have cake, me telling her it was Eliot's birthday and his cake to share triggering her meltdown - the joys!) so they didn't want to touch the animals and were pretty clingy with me so I didn't get many photos here as Daddy was at work so my camera was swiftly tucked away again.


Creamy Christmas Fudge recipe

I decided to re-post this old recipe without all of my old waffling (gosh I did used to go on about all sorts of random stuff in my blog posts back in the early days!), this one was from Dec 2011, my first married Christmas when I went all out with the festivities, it was so much fun!  This recipe was from the Hairy Biker's 12 days of Christmas recipe book which I love!

Ingredients:
150g butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
50g mixed dried fruit (I used cranberries, apricots and raisins)
3 balls of stem ginger in syrup, drained and chopped
100ml dark spiced rum (e.g. Captain Morgan)
1 cinnamon stick 2 star anise
1 x 397g tin of evaporated milk
500g granulated sugar

Method:

Grease an 18cm square cake tin or 26x16cm tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment.  Grease the parchment and set aside.

Put the dried fruit, ginger and rum in a small non-stick pan with the cinnamon and star anise. Bring the rum to the boil and cook until it has completely evaporated/absorbed by the fruit, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.


The twins 3rd birthday - Globalls at Brighton Marina - review

After a fun morning opening their presents on their birthday, we all got ready for our family day out in Brighton.  We gave Kalyan and Priya some options, including bowling or the cinema, and they chose dinosaurs so we went to Globalls Jurassic mini golf at Brighton Marina.  We'd never been to the Marina before but with lots of activities, free parking and loads of places to eat we thought it would be easy and fun.  

It was amazing, the Jurassic mini golf course already had the Christmas theme added with Santa and gingerbread men amongst the neon dinos.


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The Hunting of the Snark with Eastbourne Theatres

We were invited along to Devonshire Park Theatre last week for the twins' first ever theatre trip to see The Hunting of the Snark, based on Lewis Carroll's poem.  The theatre was easy to get to and we managed to park right outside on the street (it's free after 6 but we were there in time for the show at 5pm so it was £2).


Sunday, 19 November 2017

Giveaway winner - Into Mills mug gift set

Thank you to all who entered our giveaway with Into Mills.  We are thrilled you all liked the mugs so much, I obviously chose a good set for you guys to win!  ;) 

Without further ado, the winner is.... @owlgatherround!  Congratulations Emily Clark, I hope you enjoy your new mug set!  Please get in touch with your address and I'll get the set in the post to you asap.

Everyone else, don't despair!  The lovely Sally from Into Mills is going to give me an exclusive discount code for all you lovely readers/followers in time for Christmas so watch this space!


I've also got another giveaway coming up with tickets for a family festival in Kent and I'm sooooo close to hitting 2k followers on Instagram so when I do, I'll see if I can cook up something special for you.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Guest Room makeover plans - Home Inspiration in East Sussex

This post contains some affiliate links.

Our spare room has been largely left since we moved in.  It's well used as Nik's parent currently stay over every Sunday night to look after the twins while I work on Mondays, or when my parents visit from Malaysia or any other guests like when Gems and Aldo come to visit (and on the odd occasion of snoring/illnesses meaning Nik or I use it)!

I made a little collage which shows a few products I like (some of which I've already bought).

Top L-R: Human print - £28 - Violet & Thistle, "Stiffkey Blue" Paint - £43.50 - Farrow & Ball, 
Archie Table Lamp - £49 - M&S, Zzz LED Lightbox - £27.50 - John Lewis
Bottom L-R: Hexagon Gold Mirror - £25 Oliver Bonas, Irving Bedside Table - £29 - Asda, 
Designer's Guild "Quill" Wallpaper in Cobalt - £59 - John Lewis, 3 Cactus Ornaments - £39 - Love Frankie

Sunday, 12 November 2017

GIVEAWAY! Mug gift set from Into Mills homewares in Lewes.

Just in time for Christmas, you could win a gorgeous colourful gift set of mugs worth £24.95 for a loved one (or keep it for yourself) from Into Mills!



Friday, 10 November 2017

Spiced Pear & Walnut Chutney recipe

I do love Kirstie's Crafty Christmas programme and this recipe featured in 2016 was one that caught my eye as something yummy which would go well with our Christmas cheese board as well as making nice little gifts.  I thought I'd post it now as it takes at least 1 month to mature so get cooking in time for Christmas!

On the programme last year was a chutney recipe by Angela Malik.  I previously made her chai spiced chocolate baked cheesecake from an old series.  Unfortunately I couldn't find her chutney recipe online anywhere and after rewinding and pausing the TV a few times, it seems they don't actually give you all of the information to make it!  Very annoying but I managed to figure out the main points and have made up the rest!  So here's my recipe inspired by Angela Malik, it's delicious!



Friday, 3 November 2017

The Framptons Tunbridge Wells, review by Bex

Mum and I enjoyed an afternoon out on our own on Wednesday as I'd taken the afternoon off following a staff meeting in the morning.  The twins were at the childminder for the day (making gorgeous glittery firework pictures) so we enjoyed an afternoon of freedom with lunch and shopping in Tunbridge Wells without worrying about children getting bored or hungry or potential meltdowns or naps!

I'd recently discovered new cafe/restaurant The Framptons in The Pantiles via Instagram and their food looked amazing, we'd tried to go before but couldn't get a table (and had hungry twins with us then) as we hadn't booked.  This time we were lucky and got to enjoy a delicious lunch which filled us up for an epic afternoon of shopping!

I had a latte when we got there and Mum had a cloudy cider while we perused the menu.  

Lots of things on their new winter menu sounded lovely but I was most excited to try The Pantiles Crumpet - Homemade crumpets topped with 14-hour oak & whisky smoked beef short rib, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and pickled shallots for £9.  I also ordered a glass of Malbec to have with it.


Thursday, 2 November 2017

New adventures with Uckfield FM!

I am delighted to announce that I have joined the team at Uckfield FM!  I will be doing a new monthly chat slot with Jacqui Rushton (who interviewed me last month about the blog).


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Raindrop cushion - Pin It Do It & Tutorial

Well, here's a post I started writing in November 2014.  I'm sure you can imagine why that was such a busy month (what with the twins being born!) and it never got finished.  But, we have the return of #pinitdoit, I was reminded to finish this one and I recently shared a pic of the cushion on Instagram too.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Toothy Tips - Sneaky Sugars

I started this Toothy Tips series with tooth brushing tips for toddlers and I've already been asked for advice about sugar and snacking.  It seems a good time to be posting this with it being Halloween today and Halloween often meaning lots of sweeties and treats!  As always, if you have any queries about teeth or sugars, consult your own dentist, these are just a few tips based on what we do with the twins and my knowledge as a dentist.

Priya adores cashews as a snack, especially in the woods.


Sunday, 29 October 2017

#wild_child Baby Rave near Tunbridge Wells

We went along to our first ever "Baby Rave" type event run by Mum's The Word today at Salomon's Estate near Tunbridge Wells and had an absolute blast!  Full review to follow but here are a few favourite pics from today :)



Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Toddler Christmas Jumper Round Up

I'm posting this already as I find the best ones often sell out quickly so get organised if you want some new festive clothing this December!  I've included links below pictures for your convenience, some of these are affiliate links.

I find Asda always have loads of choice and at very reasonable prices.  Next have some lovely ones too and I've also found some in Matalan, M&S and of course, Little Bird by Jools at Mothercare.

First off we have this gorgeous light up sweatshirt from George at Asda, I missed out on their similar one last year so I've already ordered some for the twins this year!


Monday, 23 October 2017

Twins' 3rd birthday Halloween food plans!

The most important foodie item at any children's birthday party is cake!  Of course, there will be two cakes as usual for the twins.  They're already excited this year about their cake and blowing out all their candles (we've been to a few parties recently).  They've both asked for carrot cake, I think because they remember Mummy's birthday cake at my BBQ in June which they loved and helped me blow out the candles on.  

I will of course be making said carrot cakes (although K has also mentioned chocolate cake) but need to somehow make them Halloweeny, I'm thinking this monsters will be easy enough and can be made with any kind of cake.  When I mentioned monster cakes to the kids and asked them their favourite colours, P insisted on red and K would like blue or purple.  (I've already bought the right Wilton nozzle for the furry one on the bottom!)



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