Hipstamatic

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See what happens when I take a couple of weeks off – cool things happen and pass me by!

So as spotted on India Knight’s Posterous and Xarpie on my Google Reader – the awesome Hipstamatic iPhone App.  It’s basically an app which simulates a vintage camera (It’s £1.19 on the App Store). You get a ‘roll’ of film, different flashes and then you can buy add on ‘lenses’ and different ‘rolls’ of film which give your photos different finishes – they are 59p to add on.
I have a small confession to make with it, as you know I’m old….I loaded it and then forgot it wasn’t an old camera and turned my iPhone round so I was looking at the back of my iPhone to take the photo – hubby fell about laughing!  But I have been having a ridiculous amount of fun with it 🙂

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Holiday Blogs

Picture 44When I go on holiday I don’t ever post on there that I’m going/where I’ll be/or pretty much anything else about it.

It’s mainly because if something awful happened like the house getting broken in while we’re away, I don’t really want to give my insurance company a reason not to pay up!  Telling the whole world you’ll be away would give them just cause – whether or not a burgler had read your blog or not!

What I’ve done for the last couple of holidays is to start a ‘hidden’ mini blog.  It acts as a diary for me, it lets my parents know that we’re ok and what we’re up to & a few other people I invite to view it’s a ‘virtual postcard’.  Also it’s really nice to look back on when you’ve been home a few months and want to relive your holiday.

So here’s how to do it:

1. Have you got a SmartPhone, laptop, iPad you are taking with you? iPhone is easiest to do this from.

2. Start a ‘hidden’ WordPress account.  So create a free wordpress.com account and in the Dashboard – Settings – Privacy choose these settings:

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This hides you from the search engines but allows you to give the blog URL address to friends and family.  You can go for the ‘total’ private option below that but that limits you to 35 viewers (which is loads) but anyone you want to invite has to be a WordPress user with a WordPress login – which probably most people you know won’t have.

3. If you are using the iPhone to operate this, load the free WordPress App available on the App Store (also for iPad too now) and configure your app – add the username and password. And you are good to go, from the app you can write new posts, add photos and post. Just find some free wifi (Hotels, B&B’s, Coffee Shops & bars are my general favourite sources abroad) and you can blog your holiday.

If you are using a netbook or laptop to do it from you can just go in and do it from the usual website or post by email explained very well here

Happy Holidays!

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Rustic Dining

I have a new obsession…..very old farmhouse tables, it’s totally my friend Catherines’ fault.  She bought her massive one from an ad in our local newspaper for £15 and it’s just stunning it can seat at least 12 people!.   My love of farmhouse tables isn’t exactly new though, when we were teenagers my friend Sarah at Ginger and All Things Nice had the best ever old farmhouse table in her Mum’s kitchen and I utterly adored it.

So when Paul started talking about getting a new dining room table (mine was a 1940’s ‘temporary’ £5 car boot find about 13 years ago) I started thinking practicalities.   My old table as much as I love it, isn’t that useful anymore. You can only get two people round it comfortably as the middle legs are difficult to sit round and now Miss L has long legs it’s time to get a table with legs in the corners.  But I will find it a new life out in my new garden project (to be revealed soon!)

We’ve been looking for a *new* table for a while and I can’t find any I like and I’ve realised that what I don’t like about them is that they are well…..new.  They don’t have any soul, and I can imagine what would happen if Miss L got paint/glue/glitter/pen on a brand new shiny, very expensive table. Frankly I can’t live with that level of stress, furniture is there for you – not the other way round!  I did find one at an antiques barn locally but by the time I got back with Paul to show him, it was gone.

Having looked online second hand they are really expensive, so I’m going to have to keep and eye on the local barns to find my perfect table – wish me luck!

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Hooked on…Bunting

* Recycled from Spring 2009*

In 1977 I was 5 and the country went mad celebrating the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. We went to a street party and there was bunting everywhere! I think it was one of those magical childhood days that sticks with you, and ever since then I’ve had a soft spot for bunting.  Luckily for me it’s back in fashion and everywhere in the magazines at the moment.

It’s something that is so inexpensive and can make anywhere look like it’s ready to have a party.  You can also use them about the house as a cute fun accent as India Knight has in her kitchen

They make a great cute addition to your child’s bedroom.  Obviously if you have small children hang it up high so they can’t hurt themselves with it.  Here’s the bunting Miss L has in her room and she loves it as it’s all girlie and flowery. And in fact since I wrote this last year – we now have a big collection of bunting in all colours and sizes.

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If you have some scraps of material left over from other projects and you’re handy with a sewing machine then you should be able to make your own bunting pretty quickly. If you’re more like me and useless with a sewing machine, hit Etsy or Ebay and you can find inexpensive cute handmade bunting on there.

Have fun!

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Disney – Dumbo Blu Ray

It’s the Easter holidays so very kindly Disney have sent me a bunch of Blu-Rays Toy Story 1 & 2 and Dumbo to watch and review.  Now I think since Miss L was little I watched the Toy Story films a lot – as I’m sure you all have with your little ones. But in their Blu-Ray format they are stunning the computer animation just works brilliantly in hi-def.

If you don’t already own a DVD copy the Blu-ray is worth getting, even if it’s just for all the really cool extras – there are loads of cool mini film including one that explains how the space shuttle works and Buzz goes on the International Space Station! Very cool for geek mama *cough* and child 🙂

Having rewatched them again we’re now very excited about Toy Story 3 coming in the summer to the cinema.

Dumbo was more of an unknown quanity though.   I was really interested to see how it would look in Blu-Ray and how a nearly 70 year old film – made in 1941 – would translate to a 21st Century child bought up on the more complex narrative of the Pixar films.

The only time I’d seen Dumbo, was in a pretty rubbish cinema in about 1978 when I was the same age as Miss L.  I remember loving it but not much about the actual movie.   Miss L’s only knowledge of  Dumbo is that it’s her favourite ride at DisneyWorld!

My initial thoughts of the movie:

It’s super short less than an hour!

The home of the circus in Florida is pretty much where Disney World currently is and about the same size, obviously Walt always had a thing for Orlando.

Huge cultural difference between 1941 and 2010 –

1. Where babies come from:

Miss L – ‘Mummy why on earth is there a stork?’

Me – ‘Because in the olden times, they told children that babies were delivered by storks’

Miss L – ‘ But that’s stupid they come out of your ‘gyney’, DID THEY LIE TO CHILDREN?.  When did children learn the truth???’

2. Circus and Animals

Miss L – ‘So what’s a Circus?’, ‘Why are the animals chained up’, ‘Why are they making those animals work?’ ‘Why are they hitting Dumbo’s Mummy, who’s going to arrest them?’ ‘When are they freeing Dumbo’s Mummy!!’

Miss L’s Mini review – ‘ I liked the bit when Dumbo flew and the bit when they put up the tent. It was cool.  It is a good film and I recommend it.’

I don’t think it’s going to replace Toy Story in her affections but it did entertain a savvy 7 year for a rainy hour.  I suspect it’s a film that works better for the under 5’s.

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Blog Photos – Using Flickr

I have a digital camera, but I can’t remember the last time I actually used it.  Nearly all the photos I take for Violet Posy are done on my very crappy iPhone camera (seriously Apple 3 mega pixels is rubbish – sort it!).  The main reason for my using the iPhone is simple: I have no time and I am very, very lazy!

Using an Online Photo Hosting Site – Flickr

As my blog is self hosted I prefer to use an online photo account as it saves me server space (hubby moans if I put tons on the server).  I have a Flickr account, mainly because it was linked to a Yahoo email account I had a million years ago, however anyone can sign up and it is very good.  But I found out that instead of uploading photos from my laptop – that took ages, I could just email them straight there from my iPhone.

What you do is set up a Flickr account, go into your account settings – then to Email & Notifications – halfway down the page is “Your Flickr upload email” address. So if you have an Smartphone – iPhone, Blackberry, or a good old fashioned PC to email from; Pop that email address in your contacts and then just email the photos out when you need to. Also it’s very handy for backing up your photos from the phone.  The only restriction is that Flickr free account only lets you upload 200 images in total unless you pay to upgrade to Flickr Pro.

If you are worried about privacy you can go into the photos once they are online and just mark them as ‘Family & Friends’ and that will take them out of the Flickrstream.  But normally you’ll only be uploading photos you’d use on your blog anyway, so if you don’t use photos of your children or whatever then it’s not really going to be a problem.  There is an iPhone app to upload to Flickr and on the Flickr website you can upload from there but neither are like as quick as just using the email method.

Editing Photos on Flickr

Once the photo is online what do you do? Edit, edit, edit! Is the answer 🙂  Flickr uses a company called Picnik to let you edit your images and if you don’t have any decent photo editing software – well don’t go and buy any pop to Picnik and edit them online.

You can either do it buy clicking ‘edit’ on your photo on Flickr and it takes you straight through. If you don’t have a Flickr account and just have the image on your Machine/Facebook/Picassa upload them from there and you can then edit them online and save them back to either your machine or wherever you choose.  If you edit from the Flickr account it will save the new photo straight back to that account and will create a new copy.

Before – Here’s a picture I snapped with my phone.  It’s okay but it’s not brilliant the colours and lighting aren’t great and there is no real focus to the photo.

After – I’ve cropped the photo, changed the colour, contrast and exposure and then saved it – it took less than 2 minutes to edit. Picnik is really intuitive and if you don’t like what you’ve done just hit cancel.

Remember crop the photo to what draws your eye, it makes a massive difference to the look and feel of a photo. And remember to have fun playing with them, make them black & white, add text and boarders – whatever you fancy!

If anyone wants to know about adding photos to your blog then leave me a comment and I’ll write another post 🙂


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Container Gardening

Following on from last year’s ‘Small Gardening‘ I’m doing the container gardening thing again this year.  Last year I had the potatoes in completely the wrong place for watering them and they died a very quick death – doh!  But the strawberries did well in the hanging baskets at the front of the house, so I’m going to do those again but this year they’ll be at the back of the house – once again for more convenient watering.

I’m also going to do some herb pots by the back door – Coriander, Mint (for my Pimms!), Basil, Rosemary and some pick and come again lettuce for easy salads  – easy for watering as I can use the recycled water from our tumble drier.  And I’m going to attempt potatoes again but this time on the back patio – I don’t think Betty will eat them this year…but maybe I’m being over confident?

I have a load of seeds and bulbs growing in my parents greenhouse  – Green Beans, Dahlia’s, Sweetpeas, Lilies as well as the seeds we planted up from Debs.  So I look forward to getting those back in about six weeks and then I can plant up my beds – I have some purple broccoli to go in them too as they are so pretty and edible!

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Baby Born Free

I’d like to welcome my latest partner company the award winning Baby Born Free to Violet Posy.  Over to them to tell you about themselves:

drinking_cup_orange“BornFreeTM – The Safe and Smart Feeding System

BornFree’s leak proof baby bottles with the anti-colic vent are designed for comfortable and safe feeding. The unique BornFreeTM venting system is designed to reduce the build-up of pressure inside the bottles and minimize the painful symptoms of colic and middle ear infections.

In addition, similar to breast feeding, the free flow air valve starts a steady flow of liquid only when your baby suckles making it the perfect bottle for combination breast and bottle feeding.

Featuring plastic and glass baby bottles with five stages of teats, interchangeable Training and Drinking Cups, Orthodontic Soothers, Silicone Teethers, and more, BornFreeTM products have always been 100% free of BPA, Phthalates and PVC and are the safe and smart choice for parents and babies.”

Just a bit from me:

Obviously breast feeding your baby is the best thing for the baby, it goes without saying.  However I wasn’t lucky enough to be able to breast-feed Miss L when she was a baby.  She was seriously ill with Group B Strep and in SCBU, I was very ill after a messed up labour.  As a result those breasts just didn’t work and the very little I produced, dried up in about 3 days.  I was absolutely distraught, but my body wasn’t co-operating – what to do?

I had to look for alternative for her which was obviously bottles.  Fortunately when I was pregnant I’d come across an article about the dangers of plastic bottles and the chemicals that were used in them – in fact now in Canada bottles with BPA in have been banned for sometime. I can’t find the original as it was back in 2003 but here is a more recent one I found.   It gives all the details of the bad stuff that can be in plastic baby bottles and how they can affect babies in the long term.  There is also more information on the subject at Born Free blog here

Being a very paranoid first time Mum I hunted high and low for BPA Free Bottles.  They were great, she was hardly every sick and didn’t get much wind which can be a problem for bottle-fed babies.  I’m really pleased to see that there is now a range which has glass bottles, dummies, soothers, and training cups, if you’re interested pop over and have a look.

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{The Gallery} – Week 6 Ugly

Tara’s Gallery subject this week is Ugly – a pretty hard one and I’ve been thinking about it all weekend (it’s been so hard!) and this is what I’ve come up with – Ollie the dead Eagle Owl (sorry Ollie!) My Mum inherited it from her Grandmother.  Seriously have you ever seen anything so macabre?  I feel bad for saying it, as it the one and only family heirloom we have, but it sure is ugly!

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The Mads

the-mads-logoA bit of blatant self promotion here but I’m really thrilled to say that Violet Posy has been nominated for The Mads!

What are The Mads I hear you ask? They are the Mummy and Daddy (MAD) Blog Awards, celebrating the utter brilliance of British parent blogs.

Violet Posy has been nominated for the following:

MAD Blogger of the Year

Best Looking MAD Blog

Most Inspiring MAD Blogger

Best MAD Blog Photography

If you’d like to nominate me for these categories some more (I think that’s how the voting is working?) Click here and vote for me – Thanks so much for everyone who has taken the time to nominate  me so far xxx

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Easter Egg Hunt

We had out annual Easter Egg hunt over at my Mum’s. Bless her she started this when Miss L was one thinking that it’d only be for a couple of years.  However Miss L *loves* them and she’ll want them at 18 at this rate,  poor Mum!  They’d decorated the garden with eggs, chicks and lots of bunting.  Sadly it was a very cold and windy day, but it didn’t matter too much, we had a great time and then hid in the summer house from the cold Norfolk wind to get warm!  But a great time was had by all – thanks Mum & Dad xx

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The Eleventh Doctor

If you’re not into Dr Who or Sci Fi….well just ignore this post……

Oh the new Dr Who, how much do I love thee, let me count the ways.  It’s smart, funny and just brilliantly produced – it’s like falling in love all over again!.

Matt Smith – who frankly I was very unconvinced about – just exuded charm and intelligence.  Karen Gillan will be a wonderful assistant, her ‘Amy Pond’ is smart, tough and been in love (or at least he’s been her hero) with the Dr since she was seven.  Steven Moffat has pulled off what no one thought he could, a reboot of the Dr Who Franchise.

Welcome number Eleven, I’m really looking forward to you staying a while 🙂

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