Project 365 – Week 9

Sunday 22nd February. As all good Brownies and Guides know, it’s Thinking Day. I got mixed up and thought H had a party, so I didn’t put us down for it, which is a shame as they had a lovely craft day – instead we had a lie-in and a fairly lazy day. I’ve been told that H’s school do an Easter Bonnet parade every year, so I made a start on hers with plenty of time as I usually leave these things until the last minute. I fully expect the parade not to happen, now I’ve actually started doing it.

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Monday 23rd February. Another week at work (which flew by, btw), I found two new Original Source types on my trip to Superdrug at Clapham Junction. I have always had this terrible addiction to things that smell a certain way. I also have a terrible addiction to buying anything Original Source put out if it’s vaguely quirky. Liquorice will do just nicely.

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Tuesday 25th February. We were tired. H was super-tired and I was tired too. Swimming lessons were back on, and Swimmy came with us too for one last photo (hurrah!).


Wednesday 26th February. This ended up being an exhaustingly horrible day. H came home from school, her mouth clamped shut. Her latest wobbly tooth was at the point of no return, but she was terrified it would hurt, so refused to open her mouth or talk to me for an hour. Cue me going from concerned parent to extremely worried parent, and back to “what do I do now?!” parent. She wouldn’t eat anything, hadn’t eaten most of her school lunch and was shattered thanks to having no food. In the end I cuddled her until she fell asleep and pulled the damn tooth out myself – it took a milisecond, it was about to come out anyway. When she woke up I showed her the tooth, and we celebrated by being able to talk again. She was rewarded with a Princess DisGrace book by Lou Kuenzler. On my to-do list is a list of books she’s enjoying as she’s moving more into longer paperbacks, which we’ve found suitable for a five year old.

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Thursday 26th February. My late day at work – but also the day I have a lunch break. I popped into Tiger Stores to add more bits to H’s Easter Bonnet. At first I thought about having the little eggs hanging down from the middle grass basket, but after thinking about it, we should celebrate her Australian side and have them hanging down from the bottom of the bonnet. H thinks this is brilliant too. Phew.


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Friday 27th February. The sun came out! Now I’m not one for avoiding going outdoors, but with my back and all the aches and pains I tend to keep myself warm. Having said that, it was 8 or 9 degrees and sunny, and we all need some Vitamin D, so I got the outdoor chalks out (the Hungry Caterpillar ones we were sent to review), and drew a windy road around our back yard. The sun wasn’t out for long, but long enough to have a play, and for H to sit on it and get blue lines all over her clothes! Anyway, I chased her around the yard while she screamed giggly panicked screams in case I caught her. Every time I did she’d collapse in a fit of giggles. Got my little girl back after Wednesday’s hiccup, phew.

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Saturday 28th February. Lawks, it’s March tomorrow. This is officially the longest I’ve managed Project 365. H had a superhero party today so we got her dressed in all the H&M bits we’ve picked up, so she could be Batgirl. She felt cool and I thought she looked cool, and it was perfect wear for a soft play party. Afterwards she insisted on getting her guitar out, and posed like this. I need to sort her some guitar lessons for summer term I think – she’s a natural!


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TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Project 365 – Week 4

Work is getting busy and home life is busy. This is about par for the course, and means I’m typing this live on a Sunday just to be in time. So many nights have found me falling asleep in front of the tv, while this weekend has had me awake having daydreams about things stressing me out. Onwards, next week!

Sunday 18th January. Tooth number four vacated the premises with a bit of help from me. The two bottom teeth are growing in its place nicely. H was happy as she has more money to save up for something nice.

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Monday 19th January. Another busy day, meetings, rushing for trains, Rainbows. Obligatory food picture – a quorn and vegetable stir fry. I have now been vegetarian for 32 years.  Monday - food Tuesday 20th January. My friend at PIAS sent me the last dEUS album which I have not yet had a chance to play. This is almost shameful – fortunately it’s a collection so I know most of the songs, but still. I exist in a world where my daughter can’t believe I don’t like Demi Lovato and Olly Murs, and pop music in general.

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Wednesday 21st January. We won a prize in Storytime Magazine – a copy of E. Nesbit’s ‘Five Children and It’ – this will definitely be the most challenging book H will have read so far – lots of words, a smaller font and no pictures – but she’s doing so well I know it won’t be too big an issue – hopefully just a chapter at a time every night (and fingers crossed it tires her out too!)

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Thursday 22nd January. I got the Call Of Doom from school – H had earache. She’s generally not a sickly child any more, we seem to have got through that at nursery, and indeed last year she only had one day off ill (with earache again). So I had to pick her up early, on my late day at work. Which has left me stressed this weekend as I didn’t get to sort things for next week as easily as I wanted to. We were able to cuddle up and watch a film of her choosing – she went for ‘Wreck It Ralph’ over ‘Frozen’, incredibly. The doctor said she has infection in both ears, but it might clear on its own. 

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Friday 23rd January. The ear infection gone, and antibiotics ordered (the doctor wanted to wait to see if liquid came out before giving them, and right on cue it did, overnight, meaning we had to trek back there). Before that we got our hair cut, ran to the post office to pick up a package, picked up the prescription, made tea, collapsed with a glass of wine. This was the package – H is very happy. It’s a present from Nanna in Australia. I finally got to my work email after everyone had left for the weekend. Now I’m STRESSED.

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Saturday 24th January. For the last year I’ve been looking for H’s Barbie and Monster High dolls – they were presents from her old nursery friend Ben, and I knew they were in a ‘safe place’ (read : under the stairs) – and they were found yesterday; in a bag, under the stairs, inside her Wiggles bag. As you do. Anyway, I decided it was time all her taller dolls hung out together. Polly Pocket and her five Lottie Dolls (and one Finn doll) are over in the dolls house.

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Project 365 – Week 3

Sunday 11th January. We went to Ikea. This kind of trip can bring a couple to breaking point, but not us! We just get cross when we can’t find any of our big blue bags at home, before we’ve even got out the door. I broke when everyone ever inside the store walked soooo sloooowwllllyyyyy that I wanted to sprint past them just to get out of there. Shaun went off to B&Q afterwards while H and I stayed out in the cold in the play area, and I got to photograph one of the towers.

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Monday 12th January. Back to work. Back to Rainbows. My little Rainbow on her way – she led the girls around the circle, and was really nervous about it. She’s getting better and less nervous about things, but does take a little bit of persuading. They made ladybird biscuits tonight. I would have taken a photo but they got a bit squashed – just cover a biscuit in red icing and add chocolate drops for the spots, use black food icing for the stripe down the middle. Voila! Now you can imagine it.  


Tuesday 13th January. Pilates classes started again tonight, back in the world of sticky socks and stretching muscles. I felt so good afterwards.

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Wednesday 14th January. Any self-respecting musicals fan should already have this in their collection. I didn’t. We watched it on Friday and H enjoyed it – then I remembered we’d seen it on stage back when I was pregnant, so technically she kind of has too. Most enjoyable, and Rowan Atkinson was fantastic as Fagin – but you can’t beat the film.

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Thursday 15th January. Payday. It took me half the morning before I remembered it was payday – work has been pretty busy this week. Thursday is also my long day at work and it flew by, mainly due to a conference call with a US company in the afternoon. In the evening the Hooky Knitters met up, and I was taught how to do Fisherman’s Rib. Once I got my head around it, it was fairly straightforward and easy to do, but it was getting my head around it which was the tricky bit, and keeping count. I’m proud – I’m generally rubbish at picking up new things too.

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Friday 16th January. Worst Project 365 picture alert yet! This was taken at 11pm, there was nothing major of note to say, a busy day.  H’s glasses broke at school so we headed to the opticians after work who fixed them for free. A couple of glasses of Bailey’s in the evening, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 on the WiiU. H was cross with us for doing it without her.

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Saturday 17th January. H went to a party, a drop off and pick up kind for at least three hours (result!). Somehow at the very end H managed to trap her finger in the door at Pizza Express. I’d always planned to drive to Banstead to get her some new school shoes as a lot of people are recommending the shoe shop there (they were brilliant – Shoehouse) – but a sad girly with a sore finger isn’t the way to go. We did it anyway, and the nice lady who served us gave H a Lelli Kelly headband. I groaned inside, Lelli Kelly, the awful adverts, the extra things you clip onto your shoes (which I think are unnecessary) and so on. Anyway, we end up buying a pair of Lelli Kelly Classic Dolly shoes in the end as they’re a billion times better than the Clarks ones we bought last year – soft leather all around, no patent leather on the toes (which was forever being scuffed off, completely pointless for a five year old who loves climbing) and easy to clean. So Lelli Kelly actually wins, and I eat all my words. They’re fabulous shoes. I hope they last. Her finger is a lot better now too – just bruised.

saturday lelli kelly

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Collage Canvas

I’m a big fan of canvas prints – we have several which sit on our walls, and are a great reminder of happy times. We had an opportunity to review a Collage Canvas, and given we spent over two weeks in Australia in the summer (their winter, which is nothing like our winter), I had so many pictures to choose from so knew I’d be happy with the result.

Collage Canvas have a good selection of frames you can choose from, and an easy website to navigate. I chose the type of canvas and size, then the design of the collage. Shaun’s mum and dad live out in the bush near Toodyay in Western Australia, but we have rubbish cameras – how would pictures of things we took come out was my biggest problem – could I capture what I love about Western Australia as well as making sure my favourite photos were on there?

canvas collage

I chose the pictures – and decided for a cross design, with four larger photos in each corner. I kept those for family related things (a group shot, H at Kings Park, Shaun and H at sunset by the Indian Ocean, all of us on the Duyfken) with the smaller images being shots which reminded me of nice things – across the centre were bush flowers, gum nuts, the trees and some wattle. The upper parts of the cross were a grass tree, the big wheel at Fremantle, all of us in Kings Park in front of a baobab tree, plus H by the Kings Park sign.

The colours worked well. Shaun isn’t keen on me getting more pictures for the wall, but having a collage to remind us of our brilliant time was a great compromise.

Once I’d uploaded the pictures I was able to swap the pictures around and edit them to make sure the right parts of the photo were on there. Once I’d finished the collage canvas was ready to order. You can also link your Facebook and Instagram accounts to add pictures.

collage canvas

The collage canvas was delivered really quickly, right before Christmas too. It now lives in our little alcove where we can see it all the time – and it’s a great reminder of our summer (their winter, sigh). I’d never thought about a collage canvas before, but it makes perfect sense when you have lots of photos you want to create one memory with. I made sure the pictures were mirrored around the edges and the border between photos was a black-grey colour – and I’m delighted with the result!

Collage Canvas offer many different types of canvas, and I would definitely recommend them. I’m already planning my next one – after all, we went to North Yorkshire for October half term and I have a lot of photos which need to live somewhere!

Collage Canvas website is here

We were provided with a Collage Canvas for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own.

Project 365 – Week 2

A back to normal kind of week – back to work, back to school, back to normality again. Christmas tree back in the loft one, and waiting for the tooth fairy to pay a visit which felt like it would never happen. So, onwards…

Sunday 4th Jan – H had an invite to a schoolfriends’ football party at Sutton Arena. There was an athletics display on too (which we all spent more time watching while the kids ate) – but no parking so Shaun had to park several streets away. But they have these bumpers at the crossing as we headed back to the car – how cool?

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Monday 5th Jan. I was back to work but H had an inset day, or as we like to call it, an Insect Day. She corrects us every time. She had a movie afternoon, and chose Annie. I made it my job to make sure H has plenty of good DVDs to watch which I enjoy too 🙂

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Tuesday 6th. Back to normal, back to work, school, everything. I got in and started removing decorations from the tree, tried to move the tree and spilt water on the carpet. Oops! But it was packed up and going. It had gone by Saturday. There is now a big empty space.

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Wednesday 7th Jan – H’s first copy of Anorak Magazine turned up. She has three magazine subscriptions and I love them all; Okido which is a present from her Auntie, Storytime and now Anorak which are presents from me as they’re FABULOUS magazines. It’s opening a whole new world to her, where magazines aren’t full of ads and are full of wonderful content, with stories, activities and fun things. I’m so glad we’ve done it. My first magazines were Twinkle and Bunty, and if I can get her enjoying content and creating things like I did, I’m doing something right. 

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Thursday 8th Jan – The mornings and nights are getting lighter, but will I get home on a Thursday before it gets dark? Just… Wednesday had a really light morning followed by a dark one on Thursday. Friday was light again, I’m just confused.

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Friday 9th Jan – We played ‘Labyrinth’ by Ravensburger games tonight – H got it for Christmas. I won. She was not happy, even though she finished the move after me. She’s a terrible loser, but this year I’m going to make sure I don’t let her win, as she’s getting better at accepting other people might get there before her. Phew.

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Saturday 10th Jan. We have been waiting for nearly two weeks for the wobbly tooth to come out – H even told me that she was friends with it on Facebook. She has a paper phone with an F on it, you see. FINALLY it came out with a bit of help and bribery from me. She has another wobbly tooth which is probably a week or two (or a month going on this one) away, and an adult tooth coming through at last. She had her front tooth extracted in hospital a year and a half ago. I’m relieved as I was convinced it would come out at school – one less worry there!

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I’m Reviewing a Samsung Galaxy S5!

Yep, you heard me. I’m reviewing a Samsung Galaxy S5, courtesy of Three. I’ve been extremely excited about it, and indeed walking around with two phones has been quite interesting. It has been a week now and I’d normally leave it longer before writing about something, but there are a few reasons why a short-term review is needed.

1. I am planning on leaving my network and switching to Three as soon as my contract allows (I thought it was December, it seems to be January).
2. I am a Samsung Galaxy Mini S3 user, so I’m already familiar with the phone and like it.
3. I take a LOT of photos on my phone, the S5 has a much better camera on it, so the chance to try it out was a no-brainer.
4. I am an Apple user – so does the phone remain compatible with my MacBook Pro and so on?

From Samsung Galaxy G5 test

I’m not normally one for filters – I’ll try them out but often find they’ve a novelty value. Not so for the Galaxy S5 – they have a fabulous one, Selective Focus which will blur out the background of your picture and focus on something (which has to be 50cm from you) towards the front. There’s also a Dual Camera option which uses both cameras at once – my head on a postage stamp, the only time that will ever happen.

I like my Macro photography and couldn’t find where to switch for good close-ups, so zoomed in instead to see what the quality would be like – and I was staggered – it’s brilliant and up there with photos I’ve taken on my good camera, possibly even better.

From Samsung Galaxy G5 test

Writing this up and then not showing you what I’ve taken which is share-worthy so far would be daft, wouldn’t it? With the Galaxy S5 being an Android phone I’ve uploaded it to Picasa, and you can find a selection here.

So far a week in and I’m really impressed. I’m finding Three as a network much more reliable than my current one, and having a chance to try a phone I’d go for on a network I want to use is proving to be a really positive experience. I haven’t tried connecting via Kies yet.

Oh, and if you want to see my pictures on Instagram, I’m the only fool who has tagged them #samsunggalaxyg5 because I didn’t spot what my fat fingers were doing. Well done me – this is why Swype would be a good thing on the phone – I can spot my mistakes better. @mumfriendlyjo is my username on Instagram anyway.

The biggest downside? It’s only on loan. I may become too attached to it. Read more about the S5 handset here.

Panasonic WiFi Camcorders

Panasonic WiFi Camcorders look pretty amazing – they have WiFi capability – it connects to your home WiFi connection. Lordy. You realise what this means? I’m still getting my head around it – a camera which is like your iPad but has proper hi-definition good quality. I’m impressed – we do a lot of Skype chats with family in York and Australia – it’s the best way to keep in touch – and more often than not our camera gives poor results.

You can even add emails to alert family members when the broadcast is starting. This appeals a lot – the amount of times we have to make quick calls around the world to make sure everyone is online and ready.. I think a Panasonic WiFi Camcorder may be on our Christmas list for this year!

I received compensation for putting this video on Mum Friendly

Review and Giveaway – iPic – magnetic photo frames

As a parent I take a lot of photos. H is pulling a particularly cute face? Obviously I’ve got to take a pic. She’s just smeared chocolate all over herself unintentionally? Hilarious! I must take a photo… and more often than not they’re made into photo books in time, though every now and then I have one of those rare moments when the photo taken is actually really quite good.

I’m a huge fan of putting nice photos on display – we’ve some lovely photos of holidays, scenery and so on, and of course there’s the family photos. The opportunity came to try out iPic and I knew which photo I wanted to use – a gorgeous one of Shaun and H taken in the cafe next to Conwy Castle back in August last year. They were just chatting and it was one of those photos that ‘happened’ – not posed and neither of them are aware they’ve had their photo taken – it’s easily my favourite one from last year. So it was a no-brainer – this photo was the one!


iPic is easy to use too – choose your frame (you can create your own too), upload your photo, drag it to position it (Shaun wanted a person blurred out in the background removing so we zoomed the photo) and that’s it! You’ve also an option to personalise your it. It’s A5 sized, and fits a 6″ x 4″ photo.


I like that the photo is mounted onto glass so it’s nice and sturdy. The frame is plastic and feels quite tough, and before you write it off and think that may be cheap, the frame also has some strong magnets at the back – so you can put the frame on your fridge should you choose (so let’s face it, if the frame was pricey there’s every chance it might break if it was pulled off the fridge) – there’s also a stand included; a pole type thing which inserts into the back of the frame – which I completely missed, but it’s part of the packaging the frame comes in and it does the trick.

our iPic creation

Actually, what impressed me most of all was the fact I placed an order on Friday night, and by Monday lunchtime the package was with me – now that is what I call good service.

You can find iPic on FacebookTwitter,

I have a code to give away – so you can give iPic a go too – simply fill out the Rafflecopter entry form and keep your fingers crossed! The giveaway finishes on the 11th March 2013. A promo code will be supplied for you to make your own creation.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We were provided with a code to make our creation, all opinions are honest and our own

Blurb Photobook Review – Part One

I was given an opportunity to make a Blurb photobook. This appealed as I know Blurb are used by a lot of people who want to self-publish their books, so I know you can order the books worldwide – which is something that appeals having family in Australia and in York. I love photobooks too, they’re taking the best photos of a time and putting them somewhere to make a lasting memory – somewhere that isn’t just a photo album.

Choosing the photos took a ridiculously long time – but I got there in the end, and saved them all into a new album in iPhoto to use with the Blurb Booksmart app on my MacBook Pro.

The app was easy to download, but getting it to look at the album became tricky – in the end I gave up and dragged the album onto the desktop which worked immediately. Then it was just a case of dragging the correct photo onto the page – where I was immediately told if it was too small to print. Each page has guidelines so you know where it’s going to print to  (so you can avoid key bits getting cropped), as well as allowing you to drag or zoom the picture to where you want it to be.

Adding pages was easy too, and in the end I made a 50 page booklet with one photo on each page, which I’m really happy with.

Blurb Photobook

I opted for a soft cover with one of my favourite photos of H in a Standard Landscape 25×20 cm  with 126 pages Standard Paper; and already I can see a mistake I’ve made – I cut H off a picture!

I’ve set this up with a preview of the first 15 pages, but it gives you an idea of what you can do with Blurb. I’ve edited it, though I suspect it’ll be too late for my order.

Anyway, I’m now waiting for my order… the process making it was straightforward and made sense – the longest part was me choosing which photos to use!

I was provided with a discount code to place an order, all opinions are honest. 

Photo Books

Bonusprint, Albelli and Photobox books

Bonusprint, Albelli and Photobox

You would never know unless you were my husband or daughter (or indeed, friends with me on Facebook) how many photos I take. I have a theory that out of every ten photos you’ll have a good one, and if you’re lucky, maybe more. This also comes from almost twenty years of taking photos at gigs – swap bands rocking out for fast-moving toddlers and actually, its not a billion miles apart.

I’m also one of those people who tries not to pay full price for something – there’s often deals and cashback deals to be had, so when they’re offered I’ll make the most of them – and lucky for me I’ve had two in the last few months for Photo Books, so decided I should give them a mention – plus I have no brand loyalty, so nothing will sway me other than good quality books.

Photobox Photo Book

In the past I’ve made books using Photobox. They offer a wide variety of books, all you need to do is upload your photos which can be time-consuming, though I do have friends who use Photobox for photo storage, which would work out quicker and easier than uploading loads at once. I ordered a photo book way back when H had just seen in her first Christmas and was extremely pleased with the quality – though I found with all the uploading I had very little time or energy to think about captions for each photo – so I ended up with a really nice A4 book, hardcover and a picture of my newborn baby in a window on the cover. Lovely! The downside I found with Photobox was not knowing how good a print quality some of the photos were (I found Snapfish were good for this), so a couple of pictures are a bit pixellated. (though I must add, this could be me not spotting it and things may have changed since I placed this order).

Bonusprint bookBonusprint sent me an offer for a book, so I snapped it up – a smaller book, more like A5 (though really it’s smaller than that) – and again, lots of individual uploading of photos, though this time the design I chose had no space for captions. I do find that I’m not keeping my ‘best’ photos to one side to then upload, so again the uploading side of things slowed me down a lot, although when it arrived I was really pleased with the quality. This wasn’t a hardback book, just a soft cover but still good.

Albelli photo bookAlbelli are a new name to me (though since I placed my order I’ve had a discount code via Vistaprint), and oh, I wish I’d set myself more time to put together my book. Albelli have a programme you can download to your desktop – it’s Mac compatible (a huge bonus for me) and even better, it links into iPhoto. I was able to set up an album in iPhoto of 49 photos, download and open the software, select my book and click and drag the photos. It was too easy. For that alone Albelli get my vote – there was no uploading times, you’re designing your book immediately, and if I’d set myself a bit more time then I’d have added captions too. The book arrived, hardback and the same size as the Bonusprint book and again, I’m loving the quality. I got a fabric backed book, and it’s really nice and sturdy. I really liked the layout offered and didn’t need to change very much to customise the book to my liking – in fact, of all three books this one was the quickest, and once I’d got my book ready all I had to do was leave the computer open to save it while I got on with other things.

Lidl Photos should have a special mention here. I’ve ordered tons of prints from them as they offer the best quality at the lowest price I’ve found – but their photo books aren’t Mac compatible (you have to download the software first). I keep checking for a Mac version, but it’s been well over a year now and alas, nothing. They do have Linux though (as well as Windows).

Snapfish I’ve still not tried – though will. There was meant to be an extension which allows you to upload from iPhoto to your account, but it has never worked for me (and reading online it looks like a few people have this problem) – so next time I need to make a book I may well try them and see if it’s working (and if not, then based on experience and speed, I’ll be using Albelli again.)

All books were delivered quickly, and were well protected.

This is not a sponsored post, though I did recieve a code from Albelli and Bonusprint to try their books. My opinion is based on what is quickest for me; as I have so little time; and easiest to format. All my books I’ve received are excellent, and you may find with more time available that some of the other books suit you.