A quick make

A quick post as I’ve been working in Manchester today so a good five hours travelling there and bac. A friend of mine had a baby girl last week and I wanted to make a card but didn’t have time to go out and buy materials so this was made from my existing stash, thrifty but it was nice to put together some materials that I’d forgotten I had, including some lesser used washi tapes.

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How big is your carbon footprint?

It was Earth Day yesterday and a friend sent me an interesting link from WWF

A carbon footprint calculator. Ironically I had just taken Joss to have her feet measured and the fitter was amazed that Joss only has one pair of shoes, I just don’t believe in waste and having more than we need, so one pair it is! It was with this philosophy in mind that I took the footprint calculator test (oh and Joss’ feet are a four and half if you’re wondering!)

I was surprised to see that our familial footprint, whilst lower than the average suggested that if we all lived the way this family does we would need 1.6 planets and we have only one.

With this in mind I signed us up to the seven day challenge and at the end of the week I’ll be sharing what we’ve learned on our eco journey.

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What about you, did your footprint give you a surprise?

This is what a tickle looks like!

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This is our entry into the Tots100 Mr Tickle competition, want to join in?

To be in with a chance of winning the prize a £140 Mr Men Bundle and Mr Tickle App download, all you have to do is Tweet a picture showing Tots100 what you think a tickle looks like, using the hashtag #MrTickleApp before midnight on the 12th May 2014 see the Tots100 site for more details!

50 Outdoor Activities to do Before You’re 11 & 3/4

The National Trust are encouraging us to bring up our children outdoors – have you seen their brilliant campaign; 50 Outdoor Activities to do before you’re 11 and 3/4? Lots of free resources available here

Joss is nearly two and has done eight things on the list:

  1. Visit a farm
  2. Find some frog spawn
  3. Play pooh sticks
  4. Have a look in a pond
  5. Run around in the rain
  6. Make a daisy chain
  7. Pick wild blackberries
  8. Look inside a tree

I love this resource, whether the weather is good or bad the list grows with them, in time she will be ticking off making an outdoor den and making a home for a wild animal, bird watching and eating an apple straight from the tree.

We have the 50 Things… book with I’ve Done That stickers, its a brilliant read with loads of inspiration!
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Which activity will you try next?

This was not a sponsored post but just a campaign we are interested in and thought others might like the free resources too!

Mum Of One

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Carpet picnics and dens

“Do a den”

Joss asked to build a den last week, how could we refuse?

We are always outside exploring but occasionally the intrepid explorers in us want to have a PJ day and what better way to bring the outdoors indoors than with a den and a carpet picnic?

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Armed with a drying rack and plenty of blankets, a sharing platter and snacks a dull grey day starts to look altogether more interesting! Deserving of an Outtakes mention for odd socks and the fact that this could be anyone’s child given the cut off the lunch looks canny anyway!

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the outtakes

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Research Skills for Bloggers

As you know in my work and studying a big part of what I do is social research. I find the relationship between research and blogging to be a close one; research helps my blogging and blogging helps my research. I find new topics, organise my thinking and plan using my research skills, and in my work I find blogging forces me to give my personal opinion, to work fast and be reactive to key issues that might increase my influence in the blogosphere.

Research skills relevant to blogging are about:

  • Systematising
  • Defining a question
  • Analysing data (anything can be data, we’re not just talking statistics here)
  • Unpacking complex issues
  • Observing and
  • Arriving at conclusions and understanding their limitations

Five research tips for bloggers

  • Make media alerts work for you

This is something I’ve always done for work but didn’t think about doing for my blog until recently. So my blog focus is a) parenting, but more specifically parental mental health, eco-parenting and child development. Once you can narrow the focus of your interest in this way and understand keywords in these areas you can bring new blog post ideas directly to your inbox by harnessing the power of alerts. I use google alerts but there are lots of tools out there. I have alerts set up for mothering and mental health and working parents. This week these alerts brought a story from the media directly to me, the headline that ‘Working Mother’s no longer Feel Guilty’ so within an hour I had a ‘hot topic’ at my fingertips and could blog in time to join in with the discussions across social media. Alerts help me to be reactive and drive interesting content relevant to my readership. If you’re interested in policy and commenting on institutional approaches to your blog interests you could set up alerts from relevant government departments. I like to get Department of Health alerts in the area of mental health for example. Getting the keywords right can involve a bit of trial and error but once you get it right you have live issues arriving straight to your inbox saving you research time and maximizing the effectiveness of your reading time.

  • Ask questions of data and stories

Ever see a media headline and just run with it? I am really interested in media literacy, asking the right questions of what we’re told rather than accept the journalist’s interpretation. This was highlighted really nicely this week.

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My quick view of this graph told me that gun crimes fell following the introduction of the ‘stand your ground’ law. But take a closer look, the Y axis has been flipped so what looked like a sharp fall actually represents a sharp rise.

Don’t forget to ask:

  1. Who created the message?
  2. What opinions or biases might they have?
  3. Why this headline? What is it trying to achieve?
  4. Might others understand this differently than me?
  5. Is there anything that is omitted from the article? Could I do some more reading around this to see what’s missing?
    • Find new sources in untapped areas

So you usually read fellow bloggers, mainstream news and online magazines. What are you missing? How about reading new sources to find ideas for new material, what about an online journal in your area of interest? It might be quite academic or heavy but have a message you could write in a way your readers might like. I am really interested in motherhood and there’s a great free academic resource called Mamsie an online journal with a lot to say about my area of interest, an untapped resource that I now love to browse for new ideas.

    • Define your question

This is all about critical thinking, so you want to write an engaging blog piece, how can you unpack your topic for your reader? Do you need to define the issue for them? Maybe you need to explain the history of the issue, what is the main idea you want to bring across? Are you wanting to open up a debate, start a conversation or convince someone of your argument? Do you have enough evidence to back up your argument, or a new idea that hasn’t been talked about yet? If you’re writing a piece you think you’re going to want to promote then defining your research question can be a useful starting point.

    • Draft and restructure

Though scientific in its approach I actually see research as a craft, refining and redefining, drafting and restructuring to help the flow of an argument I see a lot of potential for creativity. Mindmapping is my favoured way of looking at an issue, of drafting and then restructuring my points. This mindmap came out of my prep for my recent post on working parents, it didn’t take long but cut my drafting time as I knew what I was going to say before I started blogging:
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What about you, do you apply non-traditional blogging skills to your blogs?

Happy Easter!

This little treat is awaiting Joss tomorrow, I can’t wait to put it out at breakfast time tomorrow!
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One of my fave memories of Easter was this little scene, an Easter basket for my little sis and I, this was Easter 1990, 24 years ago!

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Expressions - Actually Mummy...

Nature’s Path Gluten Free Cereals Review

As you know I am big on ethical and sustainable products; Nature’s Path are a family-run, independent organic food company that believes in “leaving the earth better than we found it”. I like that.
Nature’s Path cereals are gluten free, I wanted to test them because A) I consider myself to be a cereal afficionado (oh yes!) and B) I have been interested to know more about gluten-free.

We were sent a lovely pack of products to try from the range:

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My favourites were the Trail Mix Granola Bars, lots of lovely textures and a big hit of cinnamon which I love! I love cereal bars and reach for them when I’m dashing around, they are a really generous size and great for an on the go breakfast for my work days.

The Maple Sunrise breakfast cereal was AMAZING, sweet but not too sweet I really liked the blend of quinoa, corn and flaxseed and this was a big hit with hubby too. Again lots of different textures gave a great long lasting crunch, remembering that these are a Free-From gluten free product this would be a real treat, I have a friend with coeliac disease who says many gluten free cereals are boring, this is not one of them!

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Mesa Sunrise was a surprise, I expected malted flakes but these are just honest to goodness flakes, the corn/flax blend is really tasty, these were my faves for an everyday cereal.

Our household fave, porridge! Another work fave, the quick porridge is so handy. I loved the apple variety, more lovely cinnamon!

And finally the Nice and Nobbly Granola, chunky, tasty and fruity this was a great cereal but would make a brilliant fast gluten-free crumble topping too!

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These definitely passed our taste test, the Nature’s Path range is varied, tasty and brings a different take on gluten free, available in most supermarkets and the website has some great recipe ideas too.

 

Disclaimer – we reviewed these cereals and were sent the products to try, all views are my own

We're going on an adventure

Wooden Lolly Stick Washi Tape Plant Markers

Quick and easy why use plain sticks when you can add a flash of colour?

We’ve been daisy picking today and my mind wandered onto some of the new varieties of plants we bought this year, clearly the herbs are easier to identify but geranium ringo rose looked great so it’s worth remembering the name for next year and marking them up now.

Take a handful of lolly sticks, apply washi tape in a straight line top to bottom, cut and then trim any excess and round the corners, then take a perma-marker and write your plant names directly onto the tape.