I did think that having been to Blog Camp before that there was only so much you could learn, but I always leave with lots of new knowledge and it’s always a pleasure to meet up with other bloggers. At this year’s blog camp I learnt that waffles with maple syrup is just as nice as having cake, among some other stuff.

As I’m always desperate to  brush up on my photography skills (or non-existent skills) I was happy to spend the morning in the presence of Phil Tragen while he taught us some great tips on taking headshots and photographing products. The top three tips for headshots that I took away were;

  • good light
  • visually simple 
  • clean background

Here is  Phil giving us an example of how to take a good photo

For products the top three tips I took away are;

  • Use a tripod
  • pick your environment well
  • think about how your product wants to be seen
One more tip which got everyone excited was that you can buy a blue gel sheet (ctb – colour tone blue) from craft stores, which if you put over a lamp it will give you a more natural daylight look. Great for indoor photos when there is not much natural light.
Then it was lunch time, and while everyone was taking gorgeous pics of their lunches and posting them on Instagram, I was getting stuck in…that’ll teach me to forget breakfast! 
After lunch I decided to go to Sian’s talk on vlogging. This is something I’m always in two minds about. I want to but I don’t. I’m not comfortable on camera and as much as I love seeing my kids on film, and they love being on camera, I’m not totally convinced I should be sharing everything online.  I’m still not sure if this is something I will pursue, but at least now I know how to set up my YouTube channel to make it more appealing and user friendly.  Pop over to Sian’s blog if you missed her talk, all her tips are there.
Then it was time for cake and coffee…what? no, cake? Instead we had waffles and maple syrup which was incredibly yummy. Oh yes, cake is so last year! 
For my next session I decided to join Fiona and her writing workshop. I found this really interesting. Over the years I have been blogging I’ve been through many changes in my writing as I have felt that I’ve been writing for different audiences. For example, when I had a personal blog  it was full of emotion and writing straight from the heart. My business blog was, well, more business like. My baby blogs have been more like diary entries. This blog has also been around in circles, when I write a review I think it has to be written more like a business blog and approach it different to when I write something more personal. Since the beginning of this year my aim has been to claim back my own voice on my blog and I want to write every post just how I want to. My blog is, after all, an extension of me. 
The writing workshop gave me loads of good tips which I will definitely be following from now on. One of the main things I realise that I do that is wrong is posting straight away. I tend to tap it out, spell check and then hit publish. I have, on many occasion, gone back and edited a post, but now I am going to leave it for while before hitting that publish button, not be in such a rush to get it out there. 
Here are a few tips from the workshop that Fiona described as the Fairy Dust of writing;
  • Rule of three’s, things always look better in 3s
  • Anaphora, repetition of certain phrases
  • Contrasting pairs
  • Alliteration
(just to disrupt my fairy dust a little I’ve made a  list of four not three, what a rebel!)
So I will end here with a big thank you to Sally and the Tots 100 team for making the Blog Camp so wonderful (And free) and for bringing it to my hometown of Birmingham. 
Just one more thing, I spotted this on the way out…do you think it’s bigger on the inside?

I’ve signed up for the Race For Life. Part of me is thinking ‘what the heck have I done?’ but I know that it’s something I really want to do. I can’t run, some days I have difficulty walking, but I want to do something now, raise some money, make a difference, just do something so I can say that I did it.

My walk/race is on 28th June and it’s only 5k. I can do that, if it’s a good day I might even be able to jog a little. I’m giving myself eight weeks to train, that’s plenty of time.

So why am I doing it?

In 2008 I lost my mum to cancer. She didn’t stand a chance, from diagnosis to death was a matter of weeks, not months or years. Despite already being ill and having regular check-ups and x-rays, her cancer was very aggressive. Thankfully it’s not always like that and a lot of people have a fighting chance. More and more are surviving cancer and with more research that number will keep on increasing.

My Twitter and Facebook friend Gavin went to the dentist to have his wisdom tooth out. It turned out something wasn’t right and he was sent for more checks. He had cancer. He fought but lost his battle.

My next door neighbour Marie also lost her battle with cancer a few days after we moved away. She was not much older than me.

My friend Clare found out she had cancer when she found a lump after having her first baby. She fought her battle for five years, all the time knowing it was going to take her one day because it was so aggressive.

My friend Alexandra is currently winning her battle and my friend Maggie has just begun hers. I wish I had a magic wand for them but I don’t. Doing this race gives me the chance to give a little bit towards their battles.

So many people. I do remember when I didn’t know anyone who had battled cancer, but now, not only do I know all these, practically everyone I know knows someone. It’s scary. We have to do something, anything, we have to find ways to beat this awful disease.

So over the next couple of months I will be giving you updates on how I’m getting on. I will be telling you about my own battles that I have to face to do this. I do hope you will support me along the way.

I’m not very good at asking for things but I’m going to pop my JustGiving page link wherever I can over the next two months. If you see it and you can spare a little to sponsor me then that will make it all worth while and I will thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Last Friday I attended a special awards assembly at the littlies school for attendance. Now Boo and the Little Man are no strangers to receiving 100% attendance awards despite their sister having so much time off sick and in hospital, we have tried really hard to keep them in a routine of attending school regularly.

This was the first time for Star though, her first term back at school after thirteen months off and she gets a gold award. Truly an amazing achievement.

I’m proud of all three of my little ones. We don’t always have an easy time with school, but we all try really hard and it shows.

Star and the Little Man wouldn’t pose for photos with their awards so here is my beautiful Boo showing off hers.


Welcome to this weeks Kids in the Kitchen. We love to share our recipes and invite you join in with our linky to share yours. We have a fabulous Pinterest board where I post up everyone who links up. I will also share posts on Twitter and here on my blog.

Follow Anne’s board Kids In The Kitchen on Pinterest.

Pear Tart Tatin

I’ve never made tart tatin before so I decided to ask Boo to help me make one. We chose pears for our fruit. There is some hot pan cooking to do so it’s probably not a good recipe for little ones, but Boo is getting very good at stirring hot pans. If the Little Man had been able to tear himself away from Minecraft to help he could have rolled the pastry, all kids love that job. 
So, after looking up loads of recipes I was surprised at how easy making a tart tatin was. Basically you cook your filling and put it in a pan and then cover it with puff pastry and cook it in the oven…upside down. Then you turn it over to serve. This keeps the fruit nice and juicy and the pastry dry and puffed.
We kept ours quite simple, but now we’ve made one I’m sure we will be experimenting more.


100g butter
100g caster sugar
3 pears, peeled, cored and cut in half
1 cinnamon stick
1 packet of puff pastry


roll out the pastry and use the tin to cut around a circle 
put the butter and sugar in a large frying pan and cook until hot then add the cinnamon stick
add the pear pieces and stir until covered
turn down heat a little and cook pears until soft and caramelized
arrange the pears in the bottom of the tin
cover with the pastry circle
bake for around 20 minutes until pastry is golden
leave to cool for about 10 minutes then put a plate over the tin and turn upside down until the tart comes out onto the plate.
serve warm with whipped cream

Not the prettiest of desserts, but very tasty.

So now it’s over to you, get in the kitchen with your kids and come and share what you’ve cooked,

I’d also be mighty grateful if you included my badge in your post so others can see it and come along and join in. (although adding the badge is not compulsory to joining in)

This week I bring you the Bell Tower of the wonderful Bournville Carrilon

The tower is actually the entrance to a primary school.

The copper cupola above the tower houses 48 bells, but this is no ordinary bell tower because the bells are not rung by ropes but by a carillon. The bells are fixed and don’t move, the sound is made by the clippers or tongues of the bells and these are worked by a kebyoard called a clavier.

Here is a short video of the Carillon being played. The sound doesn’t really do it justice as it’s much nicer from the outside. It’s an amazing instrument though, I’m sure you will agree.


I am very lucky to live near the Bournville Carillon and on a sunny Saturday afternoon there is nothing nicer than sitting on the village green opposite and listen to it being played.

If you ever visit Cadbury World in Birmingham be sure to take a look, it’s just across the road.