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Far Far Too Many Photos Of Our Trip To The Lavender...

on Tuesday, 04 August 2015.

I'm a big one for little traditions here and there, I'm a sentimental fool and love that by creating little family traditions we are effectively creating lasting memories of my girls childhoods. It doesn't have to be anything big, just those ordinary moments that form the life of our family- the way in which Mr E let's the girls be 'Spiderbabies' every night as we take them to their bedroom, our little 'Festive Day' tradition when we put up the Christmas tree and have a special day together, or that on a weekend when we have nothing else on we always have a 'carpet picnic'.

It's just the little things that make us 'us'.

One tradition that we may have inadvertently started is going to the Lavender each year. Being a very happy snapping photo taking Mummy means that of course those beautiful purple flowers just cry out for me- they are the most perfect backdrop for taking photos in, and I love how we are almost using them as a way of seeing just how much my girls change in a year. When we first went in the summer of 2013, LL was just a few months old, then in 2014 she was just growing out of her baby stage- now she is a fully fledged little human. 

I think this was my favourite time of all the times we have visited. Obviously with small children you never know how they are going to take to going somewhere specifically to take photos, but they were both on amazing form- laughing, joking and having lots of fun running up and down the lavender- and I think that shows from these happy snaps. After all you can't fake genuine laughter and happiness, and I look back on these and feel a little emotional as I can see the happiness radiating from my family. I would go as far as to say they are my favourite photos we have taken together- but then as my Mum kindly pointed out the other day I say that a lot. They weren't even afraid of the many bees this year, the last two years Mads was a little wary of our buzzy friends. They ran around happily after I said they really weren't bothered by them. 

Prepare for FAR too many photos of our time in the lavender- in fact if you are reading this on your mobile it may even make my blog load weirdly due to the size of them. I am actually in the process of redeveloping my site behind the scenes and trying to sort that issue out but it's not an easy job and is quite time consuming, so sorry if it happens to you- if you reload sometimes that helps! It generally only happens every once in a while so I'm told.

The purple was even more intense and beautiful than ever and I truly love all these photos. Happy memories of a happy afternoon I will remember for a long time to come...

(PS If you see any black splodges on these photos, it's not that I have a dirty lens, it's just a photo bombing bumble bee- they literally loved getting in on the photo action too!)

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Impromptu Cocktail Fun with TheBar.com - #LetsCocktail...

on Tuesday, 04 August 2015.

Both myself and my husband love cocktails. A little known fact about Mr E is that he studied design at university before becoming a bar manager for a few years. While he was there he designed the company cocktail menu which was used across all their bars, so it's safe to say he's a bit of a cocktail whizz. We met when I started working part time in a bar in Leeds and the first night I worked I didn't realise I was working the student cocktail night which was rather terrifying. But I soon managed to get to grips with it and I loved mixing and shaking and learning about cocktails.

Now we are grown up, responsible and 'going out out' happens once in a blue moon, we still love to make and create cocktails at home, but have got a little rusty on old recipes. I used to really enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings but since being pregnant with Mads I must admit I have lost the taste of it a little, so I much prefer having a couple of cocktails at the weekend instead. We woke up on Saturday morning to find the sun was shining so we decided to invite my sister and her boyfriend over that evening for some fajitas and cocktails in the garden- a pretty perfect evening in my eyes!

So our resident drinks shaker and chef started channeling his inner Tom Cruise in 'Cocktail' and set to work while we chilled in the garden. (He was definitely a good catch my husband) He made some cocktails from scratch but also used Thebar.com to find some cocktail recipes, after they challenged us to make some cocktails using every day ingredients we had in our kitchen.

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First up we had the good old British Summer favourite of Pimms and Lemonade which we adapted from thebar's Pimm Daddy recipe, but with the added extra of it being served in a watermelon. We did this a couple of weeks ago and it was lovely, so Mr E made his party piece creation again for our guests.

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The watermelon is so refreshing and can hold a LOT of drink, it's perfect for sharing. 

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I don't think there's anything better than eating al fresco in the Summer. We stayed outside until it had gone dark just chatting and playing a ridiculous game. 

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Two of my most favourite people.

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I told them to laugh and look natural. Hmmm.

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Next we had some concoction he made up himself- Cointreau, vodka, sours, gomme, lemonade and lots of fruit. It was delicious.

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We also had strawberry mojitos, which again we found on TheBar.com and adapted slightly. We loved that we could easily find super simple recpies on their site, which we could adapt with a little imagination. 

If you want to try your hand at making some simple Summer cocktails at home, then head over to TheBar.com where you will find oodles of inspiration for making your own creations. You can also win some fab prizes, including a ultimate cocktail cart. You just need to follow them on twitter, facebook or instagram and share your own cocktail inspirations using #LetsCocktail. You can also check out their videos for even more inspiration. We had a lovely evening together- there's definitely something so relaxing and chilled out about Summer weekend evenings and we laughed and chatted until late into the night.

Thanks to TheBar.com for giving us some drinks inspiration and for giving us the motivation to have this impromptu night together.

 

NB: We we given some spirits by TheBar.com and compensated for our time in creating this post. All words and opinions are my own.

 

 

{The Ordinary Moments 15} #31 'My Camera and I'

on Sunday, 02 August 2015.

I was sat in the garden of my Dads house yesterday, we had gone over there for the morning to see my Grandparents who were visiting from Wales. The girls were running around in the sunshine, we were all just chatting and relaxing at the table, and my 93 year old Grandpa turned to me and said 'The only thing is there is something missing today- where's your big camera Katie?'

It made me smile, firstly because he called it my big camera which is actually what I call it too, and secondly he noticed that I wasn't snapping away- usually if the weather is nice and we are outside, the camera will be there too. The funny thing was it actually was in the car I just hadn't bought it in yet, every time my Grandparents are here we take a few photos of them and the girls as I absolutely love capturing those memories. In a slightly morbid way, they are 93 and 90 and I just want to capture every single memory I can.

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I ended up taking this photo, but it got me thinking about my camera and my love of photography. It's a running joke on both sides of my family now that if we are having any sort of special occasion, or sometimes even just utterly normal days too, then my big camera will be there. And if I haven't bothered to bring that then no doubt I will take at least a couple of photos on my iPhone instead. It's just become completely normal to me to take photos every single day, mainly on my phone more than anything else, but I guess that's our generation- we snap, share, take and preserve memories more than ever before.

I have always been 'the one' who likes to take photos. At school and then at uni, I was the one snapping every single moment of our nights out, so much so that my friends wouldn't ever bother taking their cameras out as they knew I would have mine and would capture the memories for us. Every time we went out at uni, bearing in mind that would be a few times a week, I would buy a disposable camera to take out with me. Even though I had a digital camera, I loved that feeling of going into Boots and getting them developed- we would spend ages laughing over our drunken antics and things from the night that we had forgotten.

In my final year of uni I met Mr E and we became great friends. He was quite interested in photography and on one holiday to Dubai with my Mum I decided to invest in my first DSLR while we were in duty free at the airport. I still remember being so excited about having this big camera and while we were on holiday I artistically shot photographs of cocktails and the beautiful surroundings of our hotel. When I got back to Leeds I got it into my head that I wanted to go back to university and study photography as I was at a little bit of a crossroads over what I wanted to do with my life. Luckily my parents said that was just not going to happen, at least not with them funding it, so that crazy idea never got put in place.

For a while I took lots of photos with my DSLR, but I didn't really know what to take them of. I had this lovely big camera but didn't really know how to use it, just using it on auto with the flash, and I didn't really like the results I was getting with it. I wasn't interested in taking photos of buildings, or nature, and so while I still took them of friends, eventually I got a little bored and so my DSLR went under the bed.

Fast forward a few years and Mads was born. For a while I still used my regular old compact digital camera as I was still in that period of time where you would go somewhere and then upload 112 photos to Facebook of your day out. (Does anyone else remember those days?!) But after a while I dusted off the thick layer of dust from my DSLR and got snapping. 

For ages I snapped away on auto and then I started to get more into blogging and sharing photos, so I wanted to learn how to use my camera more. I started trying to teach myself how to shoot in manual and I think that's when my love of photography really exploded. I loved sharing my photos on my blog, loved taking photos of the girls and loved the buzz of when I took a lovely photo. I was suppose it was a little bit of everything that made me love taking photos- the fact I had my blog, the fact that I genuinely love photography and the fact that of course I was recording so many moments of my childrens lives. It genuinely has become one of my biggest passions.

I dread to think how many photos I have taken over the years. I go through 'phases' with my big camera, sometimes I won't get it out for a couple of weeks, preferring to use my iPhone, but on a holiday I may take up to 600 photos. Most of those I delete after we get home, I am quite ruthless with deleting them as you don't need 20 photos of the same scene, but I just love that I am capturing so much of our family life. Of course, my camera isn't out constantly, that wouldn't be much fun at all, but usually I take a couple of photos at the start of whatever we are doing, a couple in the middle and a couple at the end, and that generally works for me. Every year I make huge photo books of our year as a keep sake, although I still haven't made 2014- it's a mammoth job and I just don't have time at the moment, I really need to start making it. 

I hope that when the girls are older, they will really appreciate having these moments recorded and I know when I am old and grey, I will love looking back at them all as well. I am so thankful to blogging for in part helping me capture these memories, of course I would have taken them anyway if I didn't have my blog, but perhaps I wouldn't have learnt to use my camera properly, or gone off to do certain things as a result, or perhaps take quite as many photos as I do now- and I am sure lots of other bloggers would agree with me.

I couldn't possibly pick a favourite photo out of all I have taken, in fact I couldn't probably even narrow it down to even twenty, but I thought I would set myself a little challenge to find fifteen photos that I really love- I wouldn't say they are my favourites of all time, but they are pretty high up in the ones I love. I have a photography page on my blog where I put photos I love on that has more, but here are fifteen of my favourites from over the years...

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I love that my love of photography and of blogging has helped capture our most ordinary moments.

Me and Mine: A Family Portrait Project 2015- July.

on Friday, 31 July 2015.

It's the last day of the month so time for the usual exclamation of the fact that the month has gone so quickly. But it really has. July, like the rest of the year, seems to have passed us by in a blur. I cann't believe that tomorrow brings us the beginning of August and therefore ever nearer to September and Mads starting school. In fact, this time next month we will only be a few days off her beginning the next chapter of her life. Of all our lives.

We made a little pact at the start of the Summer that we would enjoy a lovely Summer with our girl, free from structure, before we settle into a life of school runs and a more rigid routine. We have certainly done that in July, enjoying a long weekend in Stockholm, some quiet family weekends and some impromptu days out. Indeed, I filmed a week in our lives last week, which I am now doing once a month- I think it will be lovely to watch them back when the girls are a little bigger.

I was originally going to use a photo that we took in Stockholm for my 'Me and Mine' photos this month, we climbed up to a viewing point and while we were there a kind tourist asked if we would like a photo taken. The problem was LL had literally minutes before fallen asleep in the buggy, we actually didn't want her to sleep as it was getting near bedtime so we woke her up and got her out for a photo. Cue a rather grumpy little lady who didn't particularly want to look at the camera!

The beauty of Mr E working from home, well indeed both of us working from home, is that we can have impromptu afternoons out as long as we both catch up in the evening. So yesterday I decided that we were due a trip to the lavender farm, where we took our family photos for this month. We have visited Hitchin Lavender the last couple of years, yesterday being our third year, and I love that it has become a little yearly tradition of ours.

However this is the first time we have managed to capture some family photos while we have been there, someone kindly took one for us last year, but this year we were organised and took the tripod with us. I took SO many photos which no doubt I will share next week, but here is my little family in July...

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This is my favourite one. I just absolutely love it, I just love the happy giggles and the smiles on the girls faces. 

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Even though I have a remote I still don't use it for some bizarre reason, so I kept setting the self timer and running down the narrow lavender path, jumping over Mr E to get in place in time. I can't believe I didn't get stung by one of the many bees buzzing around going about their business.

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We were really lucky that the lavender field was so quiet, with only a couple of people taking photos right next to us, they then left and we were the only ones there bar the odd member of staff.

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I really am so pleased with these photos, obviously with two small children you never know how they are going to react to going somewhere specifically to take photos, but they were both having so much fun and really enjoyed running up and down the lavender, and at the end we didn't want to go home so sat and had an ice cream and a drink in the little coffee shop. It's such a beautiful place and has become such a lovely little tradition for us, so I am pleased I have finally got some family photos of us there too.

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This month I am sending you to go and have a look at Alex's beautiful blog. She has just had her new little boy Logan a couple of weeks ago and so her Me and Mine photos for this month are no doubt going to be beautiful.

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