Saturday, 30 November 2013

Instajunction Poster and Mini photo book review - plus discount code

Although I'm not the best photographer in the world one of my greatest loves is my rather large collection of photos. Since going digital several years ago now I've gradually been taking more and more, and since getting a decent phone last year and joining instagram I've been even worse!

The problem with digital though is printing them out, it's so easy to leave them hiding on your phone or laptop unlike the old days of trudging down the high street to pick up your little envelope. Here in Cyprus it's even worse as many of the online photo printing sites do not deliver here, or they charge extortionate fees for doing so. 

So I was really excited to discover Instajunction, a great website which enables you to get your long forgotten instagram photos printed on a range of fantastic products. 

After much debate I chose a large poster (£19.99) and mini photo book, 


I absolutely love the poster, I chose the large size which is A1 size and uses 70 photos.  The printing and the paper is very good - 200gsm Satingloss poster paper.  Once we frame it, it will have pride of place in our front room. 

instajunction  instagram printing


The mini book of 50 photos is cute - £7.99 for the small one (8.5cm by 6cm) and printed on 350gsm Gloss heavyweight card.  It's a great size to carry around and a perfect little gift for Grandparents. I'm actually giving mine to Leo, putting it in his stocking at Christmas as he loves to look at photos like I always did and I'm sure he'll love the fact that they are all of him and his little brother. 



The ordering process was very simple, using your Instagram login details you simply select the photos from your instagram feed you wish to use, no editing needed - they know that you've already done that on instagram in the first place, the photos appear already square and using the filters you used at the time. 

You can upload from your computer, but photos will automatically be re sized, cropped and centered to squares.

Although the ordering process was beautifully simple, I found it quite frustrating in the way I could only scroll through my photos from most recent backwards, as I wanted to make both products using the oldest photos first it was a bit annoying to have to scroll all the way to the end in order to do this. The only other disappointing thing was that when choosing my pictures only 10 photos were shown at once, it would have been much easier if it could have shown more especially if you are as indecisive as I am!


However, although those things may have caused a lot of muttering at the time as a whole the process was very easy, checkout as simple and delivery was fast.  

Standard UK delivery is £2.95,  Europe is a very reasonable €3.95 and the rest of the world is only €4.95 and my order arrived in just a week which I was very pleased with. UK delivery is just 1 to 2 days. 


If you are looking to make some lovely gifts, or even treating yourself Instajunction are offering 25% on any orders placed up until 8th December 2013, just enter the code FRIEND25FJ


I was offered a voucher to use the website and purchase my products, the opinions are all my own. 


365 Project - Week 48






Sleepy boy


Another beach path walk, it's a great time of year for it.


Leo's first visit to Santa where I haven't had to sit with him, He loved talking to him and getting his present but looked all sad when we came out, I asked him why and he said but Santa didn't give me what I'd asked for?   So cute!  He was quite relived when I explained that he doesn't bring the proper presents until Christmas.


Christmas lights switch on in Agia Napa, I love that the festive season starts now - not October or early November, no huge over commercialized run up here!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

365 Project - Week 47


Cuddles with Nana and Grandad


My little business goes live!  Santa's Cyprus Postbox is up and running this week.


Leo makes cakes as 'Child of the week' for all his class at school. He also takes in some toys, a book and a DVD to share with them for the week, and some photos to tell them about.  


A spot of bear wrestling!


A proper night out on Thursday with the girls, and a surprise cake for our friend's birthday.  I wore proper heels for the first time in about 4 years, drank far to much, and generally had a very good time!


Chocolate!


Leo's first Pantomime, he was a bit restless during it but at the end he said he loved every minute!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Santa's letters come to Cyprus

I am a huge fan of Christmas, I always have been but since having kids I love it even more.

I've always said that Christmas is a 'Season' not just one day - well it says so in the song 'Tis the Season to be jolly'!  and most of the enjoyment for me comes from the run up to the actual day.

Christmas in Cyprus is a lot more low key than in England, and that combined with the usual blue skies and sunshine means that I like to work a bit harder to create the 'Christmas magic'

This year though I'm not just creating the magic for my boys,

Christmas Cyprus, santa letters

With the launch of 'Santa's Cyprus Postbox' any child in Cyprus can receive their very own letter from the man himself.

Personalised with information provided when ordering, Santa tells the recipient he is busy preparing for Christmas Eve and lets them know how proud he is of their achievements this year.

He knows what present they are hoping for, where they live and also mentions a couple of their friends that he will also be visiting.

He even requests which drink and snack he'd like them to leave out for him on Christmas Eve!

Also available are 'Baby's First Christmas' letters, where Santa introduces himself and wishes the little one a magical first Christmas,  and 'Good Behaviour' certificates to commemorate the child's place on his 2013 Christmas list.

letters from Santa delivered to Cyprus


The letters are €3 for 'Baby's first Christmas' and €4 for the standard letter.   There are two versions of the standard letter - that way siblings can have slightly different letters to enhance the personal touch from the man himself.


Payments are made via paypal (account not needed as they now accept card payments)  and the price includes postage in a printed envelope, complete with North Pole 'postmark'

To place an order visit 'Santa's Cyprus Postbox' on facebook

You can also follow us on twitter @cyprussanta  or email us at santascypruspostbox@hotmail.com

We will also be sharing Christmas ideas, crafts and other festive fun in the run up to Christmas too, so pop over and give us a like wherever you are!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

365 Project - Week 46


No piles of autumn leaves to play with but these crunchy petals were just as fun!


Big boys lunch time!


Leo brought this home from school, they could choose what to paint so this is Leo and I in the park with flowers and butterflies.


Trying to grab my phone as usual!


Leo wrote his first ever letter to Santa


I was surprised to see Leo come out of school carrying this rather large Barney on Friday!   It turns out he was chosen as 'Child of the Week' and has to take Barney home for the weekend, on Monday he he takes him back and tells the class what they did together at the weekend.


Our first proper day out as a family of four, we went to the Camel park, Leo and Louka had a great time, although Leo didn't like the camels much!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
 

The change of season

It's been a very long time since the four of us went out for a walk together but last week Aaron and I took the boys down to the beach path for a long awaited family stroll.

Starting at the 'Fig Tree Bay' end of the path in Protaras meant we only had a short distance before arriving at the small play area. I'd only realised it was there at the end of last year after seeing a friends photos on facebook and asking her where it was as we'd never walked that far along before but we now often start at that end instead.

Fig Tree bay Protaras playarea

For the first time Louka loudly demanded to get out of the buggy as soon as we arrived and Leo ran ahead to play,  he's so much more advanced in walking and climbing than Leo was at the same age which is good but often ends in tears as he thinks he can follow his brother everywhere.

Leaving the play area we continued along the path commenting on the difference now the season has come to an end.  There were a surprising amount of people on the beach and in the sea but nowhere near the amount of just a few weeks ago, in fact there were large stretches of beaches looking very empty.

Fig Tree bay in winter


As it was late afternoon, as we walked back the light was changing, and as always I couldn't resist taking a few sky photos



Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Gallery - A Younger me

This is the younger me....




It's certainly the younger me - taken after my 30th birthday party when 2 of my friends who were sleeping the night at our house and we decided to carry on the party when we got home.

The younger me, who went out drinking and didn't worry how bad her head would be in the morning or how many times she would have to get up in the night.

Who could spend the whole day on the sofa watching tv or sleeping or having a 2 hour bath. (ok I never did that but I could have!)

Who could wear heels and not only walk but also dance (well kind of!)

Who had just lost 4 stone and was looking and feeling better than ever before.

Who sat staring at her birthday cards unable to believe she had just turned 30 and felt old.

Who still used to celebrate her birthdays in style.

Who lived in England

Who had a few best friends that she could never imagine being out of close contact with.

Who could never have imagined what the next few years were going to be like.

Wow,   where did she go?


Not the most beautiful of photos admittedly (my Mum was never a fan of it) but I love it, considering the time of night/morning it was taken and the fact I am in pyjamas doing a silly drunken pose I think it's a good one - it's certainly a long ago 'moment in time'


Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Sleeping like a baby





I started this post way back in March when Louka was just 7 months old,  I'd started to say how he was yet to sleep through the night, how he woke up every couple of hours and how I wondered when he might start to sleep better.

Since then I've written this post so many times in my head in the middle of the night, but never got round to actually writing it, I thought surely by the time I get round to it he will have improved!


Leo was not a good sleeper, although as a small baby he was fine, predictable - bed at 7pm, bottle at 11pm and 3am and up between 5am and on a very good day near to 7am.  He dropped his 3am bottle sometime before 6 months and we continued with the 11pm for a while longer.

After 6 months (when we moved to Cyprus) he got worse waking 2 or 3 times a night but usually settling quite easily maybe with a little drink of water or a quick cuddle.

At about 18 months he got worse and after one night of waking every 20 minutes for no apparent reason AND for the first time not going down well at 7am we tried a light version of controlled crying - in two days he was fine.  He continued waking once or twice though right up until I was pregnant. (and therefore needing the toilet twice a night!)



So, I had high hopes for Louka, and often joked that 'no two kids are the same, so this one should sleep' during my pregnancy..... I was right, Louka is not the same - he's even worse!


As we live in a 2 bedroom apartment Louka has always slept in with us, the plan being to move him in with Leo once he started sleeping longer.

However at almost 15 months he is yet to sleep more than 3 hours at a time.

To begin with I was holding out for 6 months, hoping that would be a turning point but not only would he wake but he would sometimes take up to an hour to settle back to sleep.

Now at 14 months he wakes for milk at 11pm (I've tried water but he's having none of it, he will drink a bottle of half water/ half milk though). That's not too much of a problem but he will have already woken at 9pm (goes back to sleep after you put a hand on him to 'shush' him)   and then usually wakes at 1am and 3am.

He has started going back to sleep quicker these days but I'm still at a loss as to how to improve the situation.  I'm desperate to get him in with Leo as I'm fed up with creeping into bed hoping he won't wake and being scared to turn over in the night  so as not to disturb him.

I'm suffering with back pain, and have been since he was born and the constant picking him up is making it worse, Leo is unhappy about being on his own so it would solve that problem too although I don't know if it would start disturbing his sleep as well.

Add that to the problem of wear to sit to help him back to sleep, and change his nappy without my bed to do it on and I'm still reluctant to move him in there.

I know we've created some bad habits so far but not that much worse than we did with Leo - I just assumed that like his brother he would have grown out of them by now.

He always wakes in such a panic, screaming and thrashing about, even from his daytime naps, not once have I heard him wake up happy and chatty until you pick him up.

14 months, and I can't tell you how many times I've stood over that cot willing him to sleep, how I hear people talk about their younger babies sleeping well and I while I smile and say it's good, I'm thinking, how? why? That's just not fair!

Obviously we are doing something wrong as it doesn't look like he'll get better on his own, but at this rate we'll just be able to ask him what the problem is exactly and he'll tell us!

365 Project - Week 45




An afternoon walk along the beach path, I can never resist a pretty sky photo!


Leo came home from school with this today, translates to something like 'Cyprus, my beautiful homeland'

Louka, trying to get in the cupboards AGAIN!


I want to do it myself Mum!


As Aaron was working so much and we pretty much missed his birthday, I arranged a surprise party in the local pub. He had no idea it was going to happen!


Sunday morning walk in the park - we never find piles of autumn leaves here but the boys enjoyed playing with the dried out fallen petals instead!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

A fortnight in the sun?

Before I moved to Cyprus, and before I had children the holidays I enjoyed were very predictable.  I used to like going to different countries although in reality I may as well have picked one as in each place I rarely ventured further than the pool or the bar!

In theory I liked the idea of exploring new places, and getting out and about discovering what the country had to offer but the lure of relaxing in the sun and getting a bit of a tan was just too much.

It's odd then that I didn't ever fancy finding good Cruise deals, feeling like I'd be 'stuck' on a boat when in fact that probably would have given me the best of both worlds.

Since spending many afternoons at the pool or beach with the boys, I can't imagine that a 'typical 2 week beach holiday would have been appealing with them.  We only ever managed at most a couple of hours before heading home due to having a bored / tired toddler,  I've always wondered and even been slightly envious how the families you see manage to spend all day by the pool and then go out in the evening too with the kids, suddenly the holiday doesn't sound so relaxing to me, not something I would have fancied saving all year for!

These days my outlook on holidays has changed completely, no longer having the desire to sit doing nothing in the sun (chance would be a fine thing!)  and without the panic of trying to get a nice suntan in two weeks, the thought of actually exploring different countries would be a whole lot more appealing.

I am lucky in that I live very close to popular holiday destination and so some of the things we would look forward to all year start to become the norm.  In fact now I dream of taking my boys on a holiday to England and showing them places I grew up visiting!



Friday, 8 November 2013

Flashback Friday - The boys

So many people say that Louka is a mini Leo and while I didn't dispute the fact they looked very similar I didn't think they were that close in looks at the same age. Maybe it's because I know my photos so well and I can tell straight away who it is by the background, or maybe it's like having twins - you just know which is which.


After thinking we would probably only have one child, it's strange doing it all again, the same yet different. There were many things that I'd thought Id do differently with hindsight when I used to look back on Leo's early years but 'they' are right no two children are exactly the same and therefore there is still something new all the time!


Regardless of looks I do see so many similar character traits starting to develop in Louka but also hints of differences and I'm intrigued to see what they are both like as they grow up. Their relationships is great, and I find that fascinating to watch having grown up as an only child. Louka adores Leo and tries to copy everything he does, which isn't always good!

At the age of one, Leo was a mad, noisy little thing just like Louka. He wouldn't sit still for five seconds and was into anything and everything, he didn't like to be in his buggy, he still woke in the night and he had us in fits of laughter at the funny noises he made and things he did. 

Louka is just the same, which kind of surprised me. I may have been being optimistic but I was expecting a chilled quiet baby who slept well, and fitted into any situation, I'm not sure what happened but that's what I ordered!

There are differences, Louka if possible seems a bit more crazy.   Walking much earlier and climbing anything he can find.  He also seems to have a much higher pain threshold, usually not being hat bothered about falling over when walking or having a little bump into something (or by his big brother!) He dances any time there is a hint of music, something that Leo did too but not until much later, I guess having an older brother plus his friends around gives you more of an incentive to do these things!


Linking up to Flashback Friday

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Junior Scholars - Handwriting Whiteboard {Review}

As Leo is learning the Greek alphabet at school I'm always up for a chance to try and keep him up to date with his English too so when Junior Scholars contacted me with regards to reviewing one of their products I jumped at the chance.


Junior scholars Handwriting whiteboard

The board is a dry wipe A4 size, with lines arranged in groups of three, the idea being to help the children to form the letters in the right proportions.

Leo has some dry wipe books already and can quite happily draw over the dotted letters but usually needs to copy when writing them alone so I though this would be a great way to help him, especially as he struggles to keep his letters the same size!


Considering that they only teach the Greek alphabet at school I was very pleased with how he got on, although when he got to the letter 'L' he refused to copy the English and reverted to doing it in Greek!

I loved the board as it gives a bit more freedom than just copying over letters and when he got bored we progressed from copying the letters in order to me giving him random words to try and spell, when he didn't know how to spell one I called out the letters and he copied them from the top to be able to write them 'all by himself'  


The reverse of the board is plain and is advertised to be used for standard board activities although I did find that the pen did not wipe off as well on the back. 

It is priced at £3.99 and it comes with a dry wipe pen and eraser.

They do two similar products  - a 'show-me' letter formation board and a 'show-me' cursive' letter writing board which have the letters to draw over and therefore seem better value for money, although I didn't think these would help Leo so much as I didn't want to confuse him with cursive (joined up) writing.   

Junior Scholars can be found online at www.juniorscholars.co.uk and on facebook and twitter

Monday, 4 November 2013

Our very easy homemade Halloween treats


Trick or treating is not something that I imagine would go down well here in Cyprus but I arranged with a few of our neighbours that we would knock during our Halloween party. 

I looked for some party bags or something that I could give the children to collect their treats in but couldn't find any, so went straight to Pinterest for inspiration. 


The Craft Train came up trumps with these printable pumpkin baskets.


Very easy to make, even for me!
I printed the template onto orange paper and then stuck it to old cereal packets to make it a bit more robust.  Then it was just a case of cutting, folding and sticking as shown and adding a handle!


I also decided to get a bit creative when it came to the food thanks to pinterest and the ideas I'd been collecting...

Witches hats, which was fun to do with Leo even though it made one hell of a mess!



Nice and easy - all you need is melted chocolate, ice cream cones and digestive biscuits, plus some sweets to decorate. 

Dip the cone in the chocolate so it will stick to the biscuit and then drizzle the chocolate over the cone to cover - that's the messy bit!

Add sweets to decorate, we used smarties but anything will do!

We also made spooky cupcakes...


Using an idea from Emma's Lunch, I stuck a lollipop in each cake to create the base for the ghosts, then with circle of fondant icing and some black food colouring made the eyes. 

For the tombstones I simply wrote on a biscuit with black food colouring and pushed it into the cakes which I'd iced with green buttercream. 


Getting slightly carried away with my themed food, I also made 'eyeballs' and 'severed fingers'  which again were really simple to make...



The 'eyeballs' were halved hard boiled eggs, decorated with a little food colouring, and the 'severed fingers' were hot dogs with ketchup 'blood' and onion 'fingernails' 

For me half the enjoyment of a party is the planning and preparation beforehand so you can imagine how much fun I had doing that lot!

Roll on Christmas....



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