Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Superphoto photobook review

It's so great being a blogger when you get to review something you really, really love.

I am a massive hoarder of momentos, I love to look back at photos and could happily sit for hours doing so. I love how a photo can kick start a memory in your brain and you start to remember all the other stuff from that day, outing, or era!

In this day in age I think it's fair to say a LOT of photos get kept in the digital format, I know I for one have over 2 years of photos still to be printed...which is why I think it is important to try and print the photos as soon as possible and photobooks are a great way of doing so, especially as they really take up little space but can hold so many photos inside. 

Luckily this photobook review from a new company Superphoto came just at the right time for us, I knew it would be the perfect size for our mini-moon photos.

We only went away for 2 nights, so we didn't have too many photos, but it is so lovely to look back on those few special days we had after the wedding, child free, stress free and still in our own little bubble of happiness!

I couldn't have been happier receiving this product through the door, the quality is really great, the photos have come out sharp and the colour doesn't appear to be affected unlike one other company I have used before. 

There are many sizes you can choose from, as well as the outer material. Once you decide you find your way to the design part of your account. It is very similar to other photobook sites I have used in the passed, in that you can easily add pages, there are layouts and backgrounds to choose from, or if you prefer you can choose you own layouts to suit your wants.

Once you find your way around after playing about a bit, you can work out what the other features and buttons too. Like with all these sort of projects I suggest saving after every page as photobooks can be very timely to make. I always find it takes me a couple of pages to really get into how everything works!

I am so pleased with the product that I am already in the process of making our parent's photobooks for their Christmas presents this including our wedding photos. At some point I will get around to doing our own too!

We received one photobook for the purpose of this review but all views are my own and 100% honest.

Blogger Tricks

Our mini moon!

After our, let's say interesting wedding night we set off to both our parent's houses to collect items (very importantly my glasses that were in James' Uncle's car) and say goodbye to family before they headed back home.

We lazily packed-we wanted to head off but we were both exhausted! After dropping the boys to my parent's we were eventually on the road to Cornwall.

Now those who are followers of this blog have probably seen some Cornish posts in the past-we try to go most years as we love it there. Padstow is also where we got engaged, it was meant to at our special place in Tintagel but James forgot the ring ;)

Now with it being August and booking late due to lack of funds there wasn't much accommodation to choose from. We ended up booking a hotel, but in some ways I wish we had booked a quaint B&B or something instead so that we could really stay in our own bubble for a bit longer.

We arrived at our hotel in the early evening, and literally dived straight into the huge bed, the exhaustion had really hit us, the adrenaline from the past couple of days had passed and our bodies were flagging!

I will admit to going on facebook, but only to change my details to 'married' and 'Spencer' and mooch at some of the wedding photos people had posted-there was still the wedding buzz in the air, I just couldn't help myself!

The relaxing bubble burst a little when we heard crying children running about in the room above-it appears we don't do time away from kids very well!

Nevertheless the time away from everyone was perfect, even if we didn't even get so much as a congratulations at the check in desk!

The next morning we enjoyed a lie in-the first in a while! Had breakfast outside and headed out for the day, pushchair and changing bag free!!! I forgot how easy it is to leave to go out when you only have yourselves to get ready! It was bliss just getting in the car without car seats to wrestle with, and getting somewhere and not have to worry about little people problems!

It was lovely to be away without the kids, I would say I missed them, but to be honest it was much needed and I knew they were being well looked after by my parent's-I think James missed them more than me!

We had a perfect couple of days, dodging the British summertime showers and visiting quaint, touristy, and beautiful spots in Cornwall.

I even managed two meals out (yes me who does not eat out!) even if I did make James freeze in the wind outside one night just so I would eat out! We had two delicious meals, I had fish both nights-something I don't do enough of at home- one of the meals was perfect as it didn't look like it was a place where it was going to be anything special but we each were pleasantly surprised and will definitely eat there again.

After a couple of days of Cornish pasties and fudge we finished off by staying on at Trevone Bay, somewhere we had visited on a whim when Sam was only 3 months old. The sun was shining (if if it was super windy and chilly), we enjoyed the meal watching the sun starting to set whilst the surfers waited for the waves where children played just hours before. There is something so relaxing about the sounds of waves crashing in isn't there, we just sat and cuddled of the cliff edge and watched the world go by until we needed to get a bit warmer so went for a short walk. I am so glad we did, we got some beautiful photos and managed to dodge the huge waves which were crashing over the top of the land's edge.

And that was it, we had to drag ourselves from Cornwall and head back home, back to reality and back to our boys (although Mum had them an extra night for us which was great)!

We hope to maybe do something a little longer and abroad next year, but with moving now, I don't really see it happening! It would have been nicer to have a week away really but James couldn't have the time off work unfortunately!

And just for comedy value, here is this embarrassing photo of me!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Wooden Kitchen and Food Review

Now it is no secret that I love wooden toys-I always think they look a lot better than their plastic equivalents!

So when I was contacted to review some toys from the new Wooden Toy Range at ASDA Direct I jumped at the chance. 

I have wanted to get the boys a play kitchen for years now, but never had the space, seeing as we are moving soon I thought it would be a great opportunity to try out the Deluxe Kitchen. 

For £40 I think it is a fantastic buy, it is a product that has so many play opportunities and would make a really lovely present or addition to your children's toys.  

The ups 
-Cost: It is a great product for £40
-Easy to follow instructions (I managed to make it all by myself with a pen knife as couldn't find a screwdriver in the house! So if I can make it anyone can)!
-Cute unisex design (It can be relatively difficult to find a kitchen that isn't girly for a similar price)
-Great for role play
-Not too large, but large enough (it measures approx 89x30x60cm)

The downs
-I think it would be better if the hob rings and washing bowl were secured too (I may just get the hot glue gun on my pieces to stick them down)
-The clear sections on the oven and microwave were a little marked and I think they will mark quite easily after a bit of use. 
-There were a few places around the edges where the paint had slightly chipped (not enough to notice once it's all made though)

We also received the wooden food crates to review which are very sweet and a great addition to the kitchen. I think they would also be brilliant with the wooden play shop & cafe

The food is really well made and painted brilliantly, for £10 you get 11 groceries and 2 wooden crates to keep them in (which are also brilliantly made). 

So why not treat your little ones to something wooden this year?

We received these products to review but all opinions are 100% and our own.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Our wedding: The hotel night, and the future funny story to look back on!

We had nearly fully booked the hotel out with just our guests and had done so many months before the wedding. There were only a handful of rooms that weren't our friends and family.

Unfortunately the management had changed from when we had booked it all-it seemed that some things hadn't been passed on to the new management!

We had a fair few of us that were late check-ins (for obvious reasons) yet when we arrived shortly after midnight the doors were shut and there was no one there to help us-until the night porter made an appearance-he seemed very unaware of any late check-ins. Great.

There was no bar open until 1am like we were promised-cue a bit of a flat moment. But that was just the start...

Now there were about 5 rooms that we needed keys for, he found ours-hurrah and we were told to go straight up to our lovely room by my Uncle and told us not to worry about it with it being our wedding night! We stayed for 10mins though as felt really awkward.

It was my parents, James' parents, James brother and fiancée (who had only flown over from America the day before and were flying back the next day), and my brother's waiting for rooms. For some reason the night porter couldn't work out which rooms were free and which keys corresponded with the rooms needed. It was horrible, it made the day end on a flat note, everyone was tired after after 15minutes of nothing seemingly happening or getting sorted!

We were made to go to our room, but we couldnt truly relax like we wanted too.

Eventually the right keys were found, everyone got sent to the right places...well that was until my brother's used the key to their room, only to find my Grandad in his undies getting into bed!!

My brother's waited until the manager was called in (I think) and by this time it was nearer to 2am. They still couldn't work out which room was empty! My brother's then each ended up with attic staff quarters, with no toilets, one of them had a filthy space with rubbish and dirty clothes strewn all over the floor!

My parent's didn't get the lie in they deserved as had an early toilet call from the boys!

Now we were completely unaware of all of this, we assumed it would have all been sorted out. We sat in our HUGE, comfy bed and opened all of our cards and presents like kids on Christmas day. The excitement not yet dulling from the wonderful day. I ate for the first time in over 24 hours, probably the wrong thing to do though-rich wedding fruit cake and crisps past midnight=bad stomach ache throughout the night!

We've only ever had one night away from the children, in fact it was when I was pregnant with Sam and we were at our house, so not sure that even counts. So we enjoyed the peace and quite and alone time, but forced ourselves up for breakfast at 9.30 like we had said we would.

There were a couple of sore heads, and many messy hairdo's that had been immaculate the day before! And all seemed well-until it got busy. We already knew they were short staffed as James' Dad in his 'jolly' state the night before had read on the staff clipboard and had mentioned quite a few times in the chaos of sorting out the rooms!

The service was unbelievably slow, we had to ask for everything. The help yourself fruit juices, cereals, and croissants weren't replaced, which left all the guests at the hotel wondering what on earth was going on. At one point James' best man had to ask for a wine glass so he could have an orange juice as none of the glasses had been replenished!

What was supposed to be a nice relaxing morning, catching up with family and friends before we all started heading off, turned into me and James being really embarrassed for organising this hotel (which was recommended by our reception venue).

But hey silver lining, we now have 4 rooms, meals paid for for another night in the hotel for their mix up. Doesn't make things right and I am absolutely gutted that this happened the night of our wedding, as it did promise so much and looks so quirky and beautiful. I guess in years to come it will be a funny story though!

I just hope we can blag our feature room back again it really was beautiful! (just excuse our wedding mess-it looked a lot nicer made up and without all of our belongings)!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Our Wedding: The reception

After the ceremony and photos we were able to relax and breath once more!

Well sort of, we were running nearly an hour late to our venue due to timings running over a bit!

Unfortunately on the way to our venue, the rain started, it wasn't heavy, but it was heavy enough for our BBQ to not go ahead and be cooked inside, and no one could enjoy the outside of the venue.

It seemed a little busy and frantic when we arrived (probably due to being a bit late-and thirsty guests as our free drinks were running out and James had told the venue not to open the marquee until we arrived-which was where the bar was I was completely unaware of this).

I entered the garden room to discover the sweet bar had been opened, as this photo shows- me saying out of the side of my mouth "who opened the sweet table, it wasn't meant to be open until the evening"!

On reflection though, it was a good thing really as it kept the guests of which 20+ were children busy-I just wish we had stocked up on more sweets as it was empty after dinner and neither James or I got to eat any!

AND I found out the first culprits-my cousins as my Auntie said they could open the jars! She apologised later when she saw the sweet tables signs on the table in the marquee ;) something to laugh about now!

Caught red handed!
We entered the marquee and James loved what I had achieved with the help of some of my family (as he hadn't seen it all finished). In fact there were many compliments on all the final touches I had been making in the months beforehand and the beautiful flower arrangements my Nana had made for the tables.

Small jars, card tags (made to match invites) tied on with twine. Flowers by my Nan.
All the children had a colouring or puzzle book I made. Every guest had a hand stamped, hand cut, hand punched place card made by yours truly! Along with all those butterflies on the table which was also hand punched out!!

All the gorgeous flowers! I'd decorated all the jars and bottles you can see here too!
We said our hello's to everybody again, more kisses, cuddles and well wishes! People could find their seat from the seating plan I had made-yes more hand stamped names! *

It turned out the tables were a bit of a squeeze as the marquee co. had said we could fit 12 around a table when in fact I think 10 would have been best (not going to lie I wasn't too impressed) I think it worked out ok in the end though!

Dinner like I said was a bit of a shame as it wasn't really a BBQ any more like we had really wanted, had I had known the cooking process was completely dependant on weather I probably would have gone for a different menu as the meat didn't look as nice as it would have been. They never said it would depend on whether (I assumed they had some sort of sheltered BBQ area). Having said that I didn't eat a thing as nerves and adrenaline just kept me going, I didn't really even see the food, but heard all the salads were lovely. 

Dinner and pudding all seemed a bit slow service wise, we had tables finishing before tables had got their food, but I guess you get this at a lot of weddings if you aren't at the top end wedding budgets! 

James and I actually snuck off for some photos in the venue whilst everyone ate as James' nerves were building for the speeches! It was nice to take some more time out from the commotion as we were upstairs where no one else was allowed. 

Then it was time for the speeches! Both James and my Dad were very nervous, but Dad composed himself and delivered a lovely speech-embarrassed me a little but not too much, even got a little soppy at points (very unlike my dad) and made a joke about James too-to be honest I don't think James was listening too much I have never seen him so nervous. 

Now James can speak to anyone, for a LONG time and strike conversation out of no where to complete strangers, but I found out in that moment he HATES public speaking which really surprised me, I have never seen or heard him shake and stubble over words before, but he got there-even if I had to remind him of a few thank you's ;)

Then it was time to hand over to his brother (best man) who gave both a funny and lovely speech-I am just surprised there weren't as many embarrassing stories thrown in too!

The toasts were all done, the top table moved, and it was time to get the dancing started-whilst the kiddies took care of the dance floor (now high on the sweets) we did a fake cut the cake shot as our photographer had to leave (he'd already stayed an hour over thankfully)!

Fake cake cutting! Cake made by Mum and I
In the chaos of the weeks before the wedding we hadn't had the chance to see/speak to our DJ properly so some of the music we had lined up from out guest requests didn't happen, but it didn't stop people dancing. 

Our first dance was a little awkward, now me and James are no dancers, I had wanted to do a funny mash up dance-I have since I saw one on YouTube years ago-but due to time we had a lack of enthusiasm from James it didn't happen. Luckily for us one of our favourite artists Ed Sheeran released an album out just before our wedding, and in doing so we finally found 'our'** song, yes it can only be 'thinking out loud'. We just sort of shuffled in a circle and James kept stepping on my dress haha, perhaps we should have practised at least something!

Lots of people had to head of early due to young kids or other little things so in some ways I wish we had invited some evening guests just to fill the marquee up a little bit-especially as we had a lot of food left that we'd paid for!

We had a lovely evening though and everyone seemed happy, we did the real cutting of the cake (albeit a little later than planned (as I was waiting for someone to tell me when to do it!) and the bacon sarnies went down well also-I am sure it helped suck up some of the alcohol too!

*Yes I was sick of purple ink and stamps for a while after the wedding!!
**Which is probably many more people's 'couple' song due to it's popularity since then!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Our Wedding: Our favourite part

The favourite part of the wedding was definitely walking out of that church as man and wife after the most lovely wedding ceremony.

We were in a bubble of excitement and happiness-and very much relief!

The sun was shining, and there were smiles all around.

It took forever to get everyone out to the area we were allowed to throw confetti as everyone was chatting-despite our photographer's best efforts in calling everyone down!

I ended up waiting at the bottom of the path whilst James went awol to try and sort something-which then ended up with everyone walking past and hugging, kissing and congratulating us-eventually everyone was where they needed to be!

I love the confetti shots, I think they are our most natural photos from the whole day, and probably at our most happiest too!

The church and the arched tree were the perfect backdrop to the photos too.

Alex waited so patiently to throw the confetti at us bless him.


Just look at his little face-he really loves his Daddy :)

I love James' family friend and future sister in laws face's in this photo-James really was finding that confetti all day haha. 

I think James got the most of the confetti!

And thankfully I had a bridesmaid ready to help with confetti removal for my hair!

After that it was all a bit of organised chaos-we had planned to have only the immediate family/bridal party photos taken at the church and for everyone else to head to the venue (in hindsight it may have been better if I had put this onto the wedding programme)!

Me and James aren't the best at posed smiles (well not after 100's of snaps!), and our boy's weren't playing ball either as Sam had not had a sleep and I think Alex was for some reason tired at this point too! Nether-the-less we have a few posed family shots like this! 
Our first as a family of all Spencer's.

Once all the obligatory photos were taken James and I had a 20mins or so just to ourselves and our photographer which was lovely, if not a little awkward at times-it's quite hard being natural when you know you are being photographed. 

The photo on the right is my favourite photo of the both of us, definitely think I will be buying that as a large print or canvas.

We then had to dash off to our reception venue as were supposed to be there about 4.30 but ended up being nearer 5.30 due to ceremony and photos taking longer than we were told/thought! So it was very much calm before the storm-almost literally as it started raining in the car!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Our wedding: The Ceremony

I've got to admit our wedding has become a bot of a blur, I vaguely remember chatting away to one of the vicars from the car to the church door, taking my last steps as an Askins in a mix of nerves and excitement.

Mum and my gorgeous boys were waiting by the church door, I gave a nervous hello and smile to Charlie-James' groomsman- and took a deep breath in!

It was only since seeing our wedding video that I realised Alex had walked beside his Auntie (James' sister who was a bridesmaid) and not just before I entered with Mum and a sleepy Sam, I don't think I was taking all that much in at that moment!

Meanwhile in the Church, word had spread of my arrival!

Despite my obvious nerves I loved walking down the isle in the beautiful, old church, a small and cosy isle with a turn towards my man.

I thought I'd hate all eyes on me during this part, but actually I felt the prettiest I've ever felt (and probably ever will be) and quite enjoyed being the centre on attention (yes I really am saying that)!!

Everyone was smiling and everyone was trying to get a glimpse of me and I guess the dress too. I did grab onto my Dad at the start as my shoe slipped off slightly, and I needed him for support through fear of falling-I didn't let go!

James' older brother, his best man was supposed to tell him when to turn around but didn't until I was virtually at his side. You can see me longingly looking at him in the wedding photos mentally shouting "TURN AROUND AND LOOK AT ME!" which is quite funny.

I think my first words to him were something along the lines of 'I made it'! But felt so at ease to be by his side, he really makes me complete.

The service itself is a little bit of a blur I must admit, and unfortunately we weren't allowed video of us taking our vows (which seems silly as to me that's the bit I really wanted to watch back but hey ho I am sure they don't make the rules).

But having said that it was a lovely ceremony. We got married in All Saints Church in Lydiard Millicent, which is the church James' family go to and the one that was linked with his primary school all those years ago! This was really brilliant for us as we know of both vicars (who are husband and wife) and James' Mum in particular is really good friends with the female one-which is why they both took the service for us.

They gave us such a personal and unique service, with a few fun things and stories about us thrown in, involving the younger boys in James' family as well as including our boys in a family prayer at the end. We are so grateful as they gave us so many memories and it must have taken a long time to prepare for us.

Walking in each other's shoes
Walking in each other's shoes
Changing ME to WE
James' youngest brother's didn't even know about this beforehand, it was very Funny when the vicar told them to turn around for a photo and didn't switch around, I guess any relationships have EW moments haha. 

3 Strands are stronger than 1: Husband, wife and God. 

Have a long list of positives not negatives

Keeping it a family affair one of my brother's and James' sister read our readings for us. Louis had only just got back from a boozy holiday with his mates the morning before, and wasn't left with much voice thankfully it just about held out and luckily Francesca had the longer one to read!

I got a bit teary during the vows but managed to hold it in (no one wants panda eyes on their wedding day) I don't think anyone but James and the vicar noticed either. I think it hit me, as the vows are so powerful and we meant every word of it, it just felt so special and real.

Luckily the ring which James' Dad had picked up for us the day before (I know cutting it fine) fit, I was worried it might not have, having not tried it on before (turns out I have small fingers and no where stocks size J, who knew)!

We had a slightly awkward moment with the kiss...we weren't so sure it was the time to kiss, but after the Vicar gave us the eyes after a couple of seconds we realised!

We signed the official documents-and were the last entry in the big book at the church!

We happily walked out of the church as man and wife, and we couldn't wipe the smiles of our faces about it.