Toys for 4 year olds: Aquaplay

Happy Sunday readers! Yesterday we celebrated Bea’s 4th birthday and we bought her a bit of a last minute present that has turned out so well I thought I’d share it with you all here in a quick review.

I asked some friends recently what their 4yo’s liked to play with and one suggested a water play system like this. We didn’t really have a ‘big’ present in mind for Bea this year but all we had bought her were some dress up outfits and an electric toothbrush – I always try in vain to buy toys that might give me 5 minutes peace and encourage some independent play now she’s getting bigger and particularly with the summer holidays looming. I also hoped we might find something that was Cora proof too – Bea was always so delicate and liked to do arty things, we have never had to put the crayons out of reach – they were always out in her bedroom to use, but now Cora draws on everything so it needed to be something she could use too.


The Aquaplay Mountain Lake is amazing! Bea didn’t look up for an hour once it was set up for her and Cora has been wading in (quite literally) too! It’s an amazing toy for the garden and we are using it inside because our Karndean flooring doesn’t mind being wet. And it’s got educational value in teaching about water movement and imaginative play. Now just need to figure out where to store it! If you’re stuck for a present or have been eyeing this wondering if it’s worth it, I’d definitely recommend it! (more Aquaplay sets here, including a smaller transportable one in a case)

Rebecca

#FFHouseReno: The Bathroom

The bathroom looks like it will be the first room finished in this mad renovation project so I think it’s time I talked about the design process. Before I start, a disclaimer… I don’t really *cough* like bathrooms. That’s not strictly true I suppose. There’s many a bathroom I have enjoyed spending time in, but bathroom design just leaves me cold. So I basically ignored the bathroom for the longest time during the planning stages. We have never renovated or replaced a bathroom before so I also didn’t really know where to start. Expect of course, Pinterest.


This is the image which inspired our bathroom design as a whole.

A little bit of background first, Kate Watson-Smyth from Mad About The House says you need to know the who, what’s and where of a house before you plan anything and I wholeheartedly agree. This bathroom, although it will be a bathroom for all of us currently, will long term become the family/kids bathroom, when we complete the final renovation stage of this house and move up to the top floor. For now though we are a young family with many a bath time ahead of us in which all four of us will be trying to move around the space, so layout was important. I wasn’t prepared to compromise on having two sinks and we wanted a freestanding bath but that was pretty much it. This was a bit of luxury for us now but also half an eye on two girls competing for mirror space in future. ;) I also wanted storage for the myriad bath toys we now have, plus toiletries of mine which are bound to double again with the girls growing up. That was pretty much it in terms of what we needed. And what I wanted desperately was for it not to be boring. Easier said than done.

I scoured my bathroom pinterest boards and tried to establish some themes. It turns out I like my bathrooms light and bright, with simple natural colours and warmed by wood accents. However, every now and then a crazy tile I had saved would pop up and make me think, ‘Am I missing the opportunity to do something fun? Is it going to look boring?’ so I tried to find a way to bring in a bit of colour and personality. Not something synonymous with contemporary bathroom design.


The first moodboard I made to get my thoughts and ideas down on ‘paper’.

Now one part of bathrooms that I do love are tiles. But trying to find the cool tiles you just saw on Pinterest is not easy. And it’s even harder to find them at a good price point. It’s fortunate I don’t like the 4 tiled walls look because my goodness, tiles are expensive. I decided the way to include that pop of fun and colour I need was to have a patterned tile and quickly fell in love with encaustic tiles when we were researching for the hallway floor. My encaustic tile search is probably for another post as they are not the cheap option but I managed to source them at about half the price of some of the first ones I spotted. We finally narrowed the design down to a graphic starburst hexagon tile, after a brief flirtation with stars, in a dark marine blue.

For the walls, I considered tilling up the wall in the same tile but that would have been missing out on the opportunity to mix in another style I like. I have a lot of love for the clean, classic and budget friendly look of metro tiles, but I’m slightly obsessed with herringbone too so decided to tile the shower in a white elongated tile in a herringbone layout. I managed to find a handmade looking tile with quite an undulating surface in the right proportions for a fraction of the price of the higher end tile stores and to make it more of a textural effect rather than a graphic pattern, we have chosen white grout.

Black shower taps

Next up was taps. Again, I had decided on brass, but wow, taps are expensive (there’s a theme somewhere in here…) and I couldn’t find quite the style I wanted. When I was bath hunting I came across Lusso Stone who have really well priced tap and shower sets, and decided to cross over to the dark side and go for matte black. Those of you who are regular readers may remember that I really dislike black. I have barely anything black in my wardrobe but I’m finding that I am using it more and more in interiors as an accent neutral and I am so excited to see these go in. It was compromise that made me go for them, particularly as we chose everything for the bathroom so late we were starting to really try and cut the budget, so were under pressure to make savings in this room, but I think they are going to make a fantastic compromise and won’t look too stark because of…


Wooden vanity

The Vanity Unit. I knew I wanted a wooden floating unit or a sideboard style piece of furniture, originally thinking I’d source a vintage midcentury sideboard, but I just couldn’t find anything I was happy to make a decision on. Eventually I reconciled myself with the fact that anything we bought new would have to be chopped up and drilled into to convert and settled on the Fresco Sideboard from Swoon Editions. Unfortunately we had quite the debacle and had to switch for another one last minute but I’m really happy we did and can’t wait to see it in situ. The wood will add warmth to an otherwise quite stark room and the brass detail is just going to make me happy. :) We plan to top it with a piece of marble to save the wood top from getting stained and have chosen counter top rectangular sinks to fit the mid-century vibe.


The final moodboard where I put all my chosen products together to make sure they worked together.

Lastly the bath. We looked far and wide at baths and really fell for the composite ones with their matt velvety finish. The first we liked was Victoria and Albert then we found Lusso Stone which are vastly cheaper than most and supply a lot of hotels and building projects with very sexy baths. The one we chose was mainly due to size restrictions because I could easily have chosen many of their gorgeous designs and hopefully it will be with us next week.

I think that’s it! I’m still updating Instagram Stories most days with daily progress and much of that is currently bathroom progress, so please do check in if you want to see some behind the scenes action. (Disclaimer: I may or may not be found on some days tearing my hair out or rocking in the corner quietly, depending how bad a day it has been!) I think it will be another couple of weeks then I should have some finished photos for you!

Hope you like it!
Rebecca

Skin Solutions: Step 1 – Cleanse

Good Morning everyone! I wanted to introduce to you today a new series of posts we will be doing here at Florence Finds, from a not so new face! Some of you might remember Penny from her music series when FF was a little more active (In fact I’ve known her since the Rock My Wedding Days!) and she recently started a skincare Instagram. I didnt know about her personal skincare mission but she has been dedicating some serious time to sorting her own skin out and in doing so has become quite the guru. I’ve already switched up some of my routine on her advice (clueless newbie over here!) and the good news is she going to be sharing it with you guys on a semi-regular basis here! In between you can catch her on Insta @BrazFace

A post shared by Penny (@brazface) on

Step one: Cleanse

I have always thought my skin type was oily/spot-prone, so it came as a bit of a Scooby-Doo head-tilt moment when a beautician told me that my skin was, in fact, enormously dehydrated. It had become sensitised thanks to the procession of harsh, spot-fighting (some of them GP prescribed) face washes and treatments I had been putting on my hormonal-acne-addled skin. These products occasionally gave me short-term results, but long-term they had been making my problems worse.

I started investigating gentle, more balancing cleansers, triggering a skincare obsession that’s still going strong. My first cleansing oil (from Sanctuary, details below) had such an immediate impact on my poor, neglected skin that I was hooked. My under the skin, cystic spots reduced hugely, and my complexion started to look smoother and more even.

The discovery of double cleansing came next; two cleanses in the evening, first to remove makeup and second to wash the skin beneath. The concept has been around for a long while now and I came late to the party – entirely because I am lazy and the thought of so much as hot cloth cleansing every night sounded like a massive hassle. These days however, I am converted. This more involved routine has yielded such good results that I weirdly enjoy doing it. It’s virtually meditative – plus a good excuse to lock the bathroom door for a bit of peace.

These days I am constantly switching my favourite cleansers in and out of my ever-changing routine and I’m always on the lookout for new things to try. Here are just some of my personal picks (particularly for problem skin like mine), I would love to hear about yours in the comments…

Sanctuary Ultimate Cleansing Oil, £12.
Beautifully easy to use, feels luxuriously hydrating but still gentle enough for sensitive skin.

Superfacialist Vitamin C Skin Renew Cleansing Oil, £10.99.
Cheerfully brightening and invigorating with a seriously citrusy fragrance. A good starter cleansing oil.

Coconut oil, £5 – £8, from any large supermarket or health food shop.
This one may seem unorthodox, but bear with me…I whipped a jar of coconut oil out of the kitchen cupboard and started using it as a pre-cleanse when I ran out of cleanser one time. My skin was being particularly bothersome and reacting to everything. You know what? It calmed my skin down a treat and made my face smell like a Bounty bar. Full marks!

The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter, £10.
TBS always have some killer deal or other on, so you can often get this for less than a tenner – which is astounding given how good it is. The balm melts on contact with your face, which is very pleasing, and it cleanses thoroughly without stripping.

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, £15.
The famous hot cloth cleanser – a classic for all the right reasons. Manages to simultaneously cleanse, soothe and hydrate, all whilst smelling all nice and natural which always makes me feel virtuous!

Elemis Balancing Lime Blossom Cleanser, £23.50.
I bought this when my skin was in a particularly stroppy period – so stroppy that I was willing to throw twice as much money at it than usual. I’m happy to say it did the job. It’s a cream cleanser (and I like so few of them so this is high praise!) brilliant for balancing tricky, combination skin.

Penny // @BrazFace

We would love to hear about your cleansing routine – do you double cleanse? And if you have any questions, lets hear them!

The Fash Flash: Spring Update

This Spring I’ve had a really strong urge to update my whole spring/summer wardrobe so I’ve had a proper clear out and started again. Looking back its been a long time since I have shopped or bought summer clothes – last summer I was only a couple of months postpartum and the year before I was wearing clothes I had pulled out from years before as I’d not long got back to my pre-Bea weight and shape. So some of my stuff had been hanging around for years. I felt really bored with the endless Boden and Joules breton tops I had accumulated and the style rut I had fallen into when wearing them. Don’t get me wrong, I will have endless love for the classic breton but I wanted to feel a bit ‘different’. So I thought I’d share the pieces I bought and I might do a bit of a ‘what I wore’ style round up in a month or so when this little lot has had an airing.


Mint velvet Palm print Jacket £129 (currently 15% off with code HOLIDAY15 until May 5th but bought at JL with 20% off!) // H&M Pink speckle club Tee £8.99 (also got my eye on the blue stripe version) // H&M yellow stripe cropped boxy tee £8.99 // New Look Striped knit khaki top £12.99 // New Look Broderie Red Stripe top £9 // H&M Pink Skinny Jeans £17.99 // H&M Grey jersey dress £12.99

A few things are quite different to usual… I’m having a complete obsession with blush pink which I’ve never worn before, (look out for it in interiors too…) and I’m loving it for a few fashion updates that feel completely different, particularly the skinnies which will be a nice alternative to the classic white jean. I’ve always been a fan of khaki, and I think it looks great in summer and with pink, so I’ve added that in with this palm print jacket and the tie front knit top for an different texture and style to the usual tee. The Jacket was a splurge but given the weather we have had so far this year, I’m thinking it’s going to get a LOT of wear and be a future classic too. The same goes for this gorgeous warm yolky yellow (the most flattering tone of yellow to wear I think) in a cropped boxy style. It’s got a nice swing but I must admit I’ll be reserving it for days when I’m feeling on the skinnier side. ;) (Note: It doesn’t show any skin as long as you’re not wearing low jeans with it!)

It’s unusual for me to venture into New Look too but because I was having such an update I needed bargain pieces to pad things out and was pleased to find serious steals that weren’t just fit for teens. H&M also came up trumps with this basic marled grey jersey dress for running around in in the week. Side note: I’m pretty much down to morning and evening feeds with Cora now, so dresses are making a reappearance in my wardrobe again, without having to scour the shops for breast feeding friendly details. Amen to that!

Office trainers £22.99 (Also available in Silver stars) // Solillas Sandals // Hush pink stripe tee £35 // Hush White and Black Midi skirt £65 // H&M x Anna Glover Palm print dress £17.99 // Hush Daphne Jumpsuit £60 (currently in the Spring Sale until Monday and available in blush or navy)

Although I don’t follow a strict capsule like I once did, I do try to shop in bulk at the beginning of the season too and to make sure I consider what I’m buying as a whole. So what I need for work, (that’s for another post perhaps,) everyday and the (few and far between these days!) occasions that crop up. I find that means I don’t end up panic buying or stressed at the last minute when invitations arise and I can make the most of impromptu date nights if we get the chance! I love this palm print shirt dress (sold out online but I found it instore so do check, and consider sizing down – it’s huuuuge! I bought an 8.) – it’s right up my street in terms of style and I can see it over the pink jeans as well as worn solo with flip flops on the beach. I’m usually a fan of Birkenstocks for summer utilitarian chic, but this year I’m giving these Solillas a go and they feel super comfy on first wear. They make me think of holidays! All my trainers had had their day and these were a super bargain so I snapped them up too.

The Hush skirt is a major departure in style for me but I’ve worn it already on date night with the trainers, black tights, my strong girls club sweat and my leather jacket so it’s proving it doesn’t need to be a high summer style. I used to think this style was unflattering but I’m loving the less showy, less try-hard style to it. And lastly, THAT jumpsuit. I hesitated to buy this after trying it on but then put a changing room photo on Instagram and the response was overwhelming – I’m so glad I bought it – it’s so comfy, flattering and I can see myself wearing it with heels as I did here, or with trainers in the day for a lunch date. I took a 10 in this and it’s not as loose on me as the model but I prefer the fit that way.

Items I’m recycling:
Ash Block Heel tan sandals (pictured above)
Madewell Leopard flats
All the sweats(!)
Dungarees
Distressed Boyfriend and True Skinny jeans – both GAP
Breton sweatshirt dress (also GAP
Classic Leather Jacket (Whistles)

I’m still on the look out for a few pieces. rather perversely I’m feeling the need for a warm jumper with all the horrible weather we have had, and I’m still so excited about summer dresses and having a choice thats unrestricted by breast feeding that I doubt I’ll resist a couple of extra purchases. A basket bag would finish things off nicely! I’ll keep you posted! ;)

Do let me know if you’re inspired by what you’ve seen here or if you’ve got any places I should be looking at – what are you wearing this spring???

Love, Rebecca

The Fash Flash: Don’t Sweat It.

Something has happened to my style lately and I am now a complete convert to a good old sweatshirt. Of course I’m not talking 80/90′s throwback oversized numbers but a super soft well fitted sweatshirt with a well chosen slogan can seriously do some wardrobe distance. It’s particular strength being the ‘I don’t even want to get dressed today but I can feel like I’m in pyjama’s while looking semi-cool’ look. I used to think they were super unflattering – particularly if you have a bigger bust, but with a complete boob monster in tow still and the cup size to match, I’m re-thinking my pre-conceptions.

I thought I’d do a little round up of some of my favs, with some boutique and small business finds.

Let’s get started!

Strong Girls Club and Rebelle by Mutha.Hood – Owned and designed by Gemma (follow her on Instagram for hilarious pink, tassel and llama loving stories) I love nearly every design she produces. Bea and I have the matching ‘Strong Girls Club’ sweats (see above,) and I recently bought my bestie and I ‘Rebelle’ sweats in the flash sale. A must have for all Mothers of Daughters, Boom.

Mother Neon pink hoodie by The FMLY store – Possibly the original purveyors of statement sweats, or certainly the first that brought them to my attention, The FMLY Store (formerly Selfish Mother but now expanded to include the whole family,) this brand has a huge range of styles and slogans. I’m currently coveting a supersoft design (I already have an original boyfriend grey and coral ‘Winging It’ and Hot pink ‘Mama’ scoop neck,) or the new super casual outline design on the spring hoody. Another bonus to buying from them is their #GoodTees programme where they donate £5 from each sale to various charities – a total of £811,574 has been raised so far!

Scamp and Dude – Next on my list to purchase are these super cool animal print and lightening bolt striking designs from Scamp and Dude. Another Adult/kid brand you can get these unisex designs and give a little person some superhero confidence too – every product has a lightening bolt embroidered on the sleeve for kids to press and feel when they need a little boost. The range was inspired by creator Jo’s stay in hospital when she suffered a sudden brain haemorrhage and had to leave her children while in hospital, which inspired her to make a product that made children feel more secure when away from their loved ones. Check out the accessories range too – I love the pouches and the Superhero Sleep Buddies. (You might also have seen on Instagram that ASDA have ripped off the ‘Superhero has my Back‘ design so please do support her ORIGINAL brand. Shame on you ASDA.)

A Finer Thread – For a luxe take on the trend A Finer Thread creates embroidered designs on classic colours, like these chic J’adore sweats. Everything is made to order and you can even order bespoke designs so check them out for a special treat.

Lastly, the very reasonably priced and wine inspired FWP by Rae range includes this Premier Cru – first spotted on our very own Erin, but also worn by the instagram fash pack including Kat from Does my Bum look 40, amongst others. (Check out her blog for fashion forward styling for when you no longer want to feel like you’re dressed like a teen.) Who doesn’t love a reminder that it’s almost wine o’clock?

Have I missed any? I’d love to hear of any new brands I should check out!

Love,
Rebecca

Renovation Ruminations: Tiles Tiles Tiles…

I think it’s time I kicked off with some interiors inspiration for the renovation project, right? In truth, you might expect that I would have this all sorted but in fact it has for a long time felt hard to see past the project even starting and getting those piles in, so I didn’t really focus too hard on the interior aspect. The bathroom has had the least of my attention because, well, bathrooms just don’t really excite me. Of course that hasn’t stopped me pinning them and fortunately, as I always say to people who are planning a project big or small, if you pin loads of images you like to Pinterest you can often then find a theme. Particularly because I’ve been using Pinterest for so long, I can also see if my tastes have changed, or pick out things that look dated already which helps to refine what I like, and also try to sift through rooms that are ‘Gorgeous but not me‘ and ‘Yes, I can live with that!

There are a few key themes that have inspired me and tiles have been my latest obsession so lets get on and have a look!


Grown up mermaid tiles

For the longest time I thought if I ever re-did a bathroom I’d keep it all white, white, white. In fact, I’ve learnt enough about myself that I can start neutral but I always seek colour eventually, and I also really don’t want a clinical or cold looking space. I’ve always love patterned tiles, be they Morroccan style, mosaics, or just interesting colours and lean towards anything with a handcrafted feel, so although I started planning a black hexagon tile floor, we soon moved towards looking for something more colourful.


Fish scale tiles // Circle tiled Shower // Star tiles // Concrete and patterned teal tiles.

How amazing are these? But could you live with it? There’s something very ‘holiday’ feeling about these designs I think. They remind me of a beach hotel, somewhere like Miami, or Australia, but I wonder if I’d tire of them or if they would feel out of place in the middle of a bleak English winter. But then maybe they would be just the thing to brighten up your day?

Or if you’re not 100% about taking the plunge with colour, how about this ever so pale and restrained touch of colour?


Pale and Interesting

I find these pastel and muted tones so restful. They’re just the thing I think for a change from the now classic white metro or subway tile, but with a bit of a modern twist. The pale green/grey/blue tones are just so pretty and elegant.


Pale Green shower // Blue metro tiles and marble // Pale blue herringbone // Grey metro tiles

Then there’s the Monochrome trend. Whilst I never would have described myself as a monochrome lover, I find myself decorating in Black and white more and more. Its the perfect backdrop for other materials (wood and metals in the case of the bathroom,) and a brilliant foil for colour too – in fact both the girls bedrooms have black and white wallpaper which is perfect to balance out all the colour that comes with the mountains of toys.


Black Chevron and brass shower // Black Hex wall tiles

What I do like a lot however is texture and a monochrome palette is the perfect way to introduce pattern like the current trends for interesting tile laying (herringbone or chevrons to name but a few) or shapes, like hexagons.


White Herringbone wall tiles

So what do you think readers. Could you or have you stepped away from white tiles? I’d love to hear if you have any recommendations!

Rebecca x

#FFHouseReno: Part I [Foundations]

Well hello, finally I can write our first post about the extension, not in the planning stages but the happening stage. Whoop Whoop!

Yeah, well it was exciting for about 2 weeks I think! Already it feels slow and dirty and messy and just muddy. The mud. Seriously. People warned us about starting building work in January and they were right! But let’s skim over that and start at the beginning.

We were supposed to start on January 3rd and were immediately foiled by the piling company still being on Christmas Break for another week. The next week came and went and I think it was 22nd of January before everything came together and the work finally started. 18x 3m steel tubes were delivered, the drain survey people, piling contractors and our building company all arrived on site at once and things finally started happening.

It was a pre-requisite of our build over agreement that we survey the drain below the works both before and after the building work, and although we had already surveyed the drain to get the drain position and structural calculations for the build over agreement in the first place, that was 2 years ago now so we repeated it to make sure there had been no damage in the interim that we could get blamed for later. All was well and the position was once again marked out ready for the piling.

The piling process was pretty incredible. Our piles were a combination of augered and driven piles. Most people think of driven piles when they think of piling – if you’ve ever been in the vicinity of piling work you might recall the thud thud thud of the piling taking place and the ground literally shaking for what seems like miles around. Because of the drain, our piles were augered which looked like a huge drill bit and essentially drills down, turfing the ground up out of the hole it creates. They did this to below the invert of the drain, about 5m down and then put the steel in and drove the last meter or so down. Fortunately for us, that meant the impact and vibrations of the banging was so far underground it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but that said, it was still thumpingly loud, like make-your-chest-vibrate loud, and the house shook. I’m so glad we have forgiving neighbours! There were other benefits to this method – one being that when drilling down, they would have had a heads up if they had hit anything (like the drain!) However, it also involved some guess work and the final depth depends on when the piles hit firm ground – at least one of the piles needed to go deeper than the planned 6m and the deepest is at 9m underground which is pretty mind boggling. Once in place we could look down the piles to the bottom and it was like looking into the centre of the earth.

Once the piles were in place we breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. It was a little bit weird that something we had been focusing our whole minds and worry on was over in a matter of days – I think they were finished in 4. However then there was another wait while the piling contractors disappeared again and our builders picked up the work, digging our foundation trenches, before the Piling company came back to finish off. They had several staffing issues and other overrunning jobs which was beyond their control but it was incredibly frustrating. They were responsible for not only the piles but the whole foundations on top of them so until they finished our builders couldn’t do anything. They eventually came back and created the ring beam – a steel frame that rests on the piles and then was set in concrete to form the foundations and finally the foundations were done! That whole process took 2 weeks, but it could have been a lot quicker as I think we had at least 4 working days where nothing happened at all in those two weeks.

Since then our builders have been on the job and it seems like everything has been happening really quickly. We joked that as they had already built up 9 meters we could expect the rest of the work to be done in another 4 weeks or so! Sadly not!

I guess it’s not surprising but we have had a taste already of the disruption the work will bring. There will be times when we have both the downstairs toilet and the first floor bathroom out of action and holes in the walls of the house so this rates pretty low on the scale of inconvenience, but the outside pipes to the kitchen sink and dishwasher were disconnected during the piling and we’ve had a bucket under the pipes collecting the water that gets emptied daily since then. I’ve been a bit paranoid about using excessive amounts of water, which when you’re constantly cleaning up after 2 kids is not that easy. However I’m sure there’s much worse to come!

I’ve also had my first wobble about the plans as the layout of the steps coming down from the extension were marked on the ground and it just looked massive. In fact the modest strip of paving outside the sliding doors, then the planters and stepped path down to the rest of the garden is almost as wide again as the new room we are building, and eats into the garden further than I expected, however, theres no other way of achieving the design I want so I’m trying to hold my nerve. The foundations for that area were concreted in last week and the supporting walls that are above ground but below the floor level of the house were put in too. The highlight of my week was the insertion of a piece of steel that will be between the glass corner and the sliding windows, that essentially holds the roof up over the largely glazed area. It gave the space a sense of a perimeter and felt like real progress.

Right now however, I’m still having a lot of trouble visualising it all. Because it’s below the floor level of the house it’s hard to get a sense of the space, and the weather has been so awful that it is hard to see past the mud. Thank goodness for the break in the weather. My to do list this week involves trying to pin them down to a rough timescale so I can try and plan when its going to be worst inside and we can try to get away. We met with another contractor to do the finishing last week (the bathroom/utility and loo fitting, tiling, wall panelling etc etc etc) and are awaiting a revised quote and I need to make a decision on who we will be sourcing our internal crittall door from. We’ve also got tile samples arriving and colour chips as I think we will be making a bespoke colour way of the tiles we want. So all together that is super exciting, especially as I feel like I’ve finally found my bathroom mojo after weeks of being less than excited about it – I just couldn’t get interested in off the shelf all-in design, but now I can’t wait to share our plans with you!

I hope that was interesting for those of you planning building work. The photos aren’t very inspiring but I hope they are illuminating at least and I’ll try to do a monthly update and progress report amongst the fun interiors posts. We are actually on week 5 now and a lot more has happened – as always follow along on Instagram – I tend to update my stories almost daily with progress including live videos walking around the site – quick and easy for me, brilliant if you happen to be super nosey. ;)

Happy Thursday Guys!

Rebecca

What to Buy: Fresh Fitness Gear

Good morning Readers!

Rebecca has very kindly asked me back to post occasionally on all things fashion, and I’ve jumped at the chance. My posts are going to be a bit more current and pick out relevant seasonal and lifestyle trends, rather than a monthly edit. If of course you guys have things you’d like to ask me/content you’d like to see, please do comment and I’ll see what I can do.

As we speed into February I have been thinking about one of my resolutions, which was to make 2018 a healthy one – in all senses of the word. Starting a new job in Spring last year, after having been at my old company for 16 years (since I graduated!), really took a toll on routine, and I was quickly feeling tired, out of sorts and grumpy. Exercise makes me feel so much better when I do it consistently, and I’m lucky to have found a local class that not only fits with my busy schedule, it’s also fun (and the other members are lovely too).

So, you might be thinking “why is she telling us all this?” The reason is that I really believe good kit helps get you motivated to go out and sweat. If you feel good by looking good, you are more likely to push yourself out there. I had a draw full of gym gear, but two children have changed the “needs” I have. Now I’m forever reaching for the same tops and leggings so I took the liberty of charity shopping most of the kit (I too like Rebecca really do hate waste), and keeping the pieces that I love.
So without further ado, here they are. They work hard for me in keeping sweat away (the class I do is a Spin HIIT class, I’m a firm believer in maximum effort/results over minimal time,) but also are supportive and most importantly, COMFORTABLE.

Leggings:
Sweaty Betty Reversible 7/8 Yoga Leggings
Yes, these are expensive, but wait for a 20% code and they are more palatable. They wash and wear perfectly, and they are so comfortable. I really don’t ever have to pull them up, no matter how many stretches or squats I do. I don’t have these exact ones, but the patterns that SB produce are really fun, and the reversible nature of these means you have two looks in one – plain black, or patterned.
Biba Sport – Jungle legging. Again, these are really comfy to wear with a wide waist band that doesn’t fall down. Mine are tiger print, but I do love these jungle ones.

Tops:
I’m not really bothered too much about what I wear on the top, as long as the bra is supportive underneath. M&S do some great sports bras/tops, so take a look there. I also like this one from Nike.
For something over the top, New Look Sport is a good place to look for vests, as is Gap Body and I love this New Look Palm print vest.

Lastly, a top I have just discovered for wearing over the top of everything, under my coat, is this one from H&M. I love it. So easy to wear, and actually, great for non-sport related activities too as another layer – this outdoor jacket.

I hope this has given you some inspiration of new places to look for kit!

Back soon…
Erin
x

Introducing the #FFHouseReno

Well where did January go?! Over here it was in a constant state of anticipation for our extension project to get underway, under leaden skies, flat light and constant rain. I for one will not be sad to see the back of January!


How the house will hopefully look when it’s finished!

On a more positive note I thought I would share with you our plans for the building project we have just embarked on (yes, it’s underway as I write – you can follow along on Instagram and I usually update my stories daily with progress if you’re really keen on keeping up!) and get a little bit excited about the planned results! It’s been a long time in the making and what we are doing has evolved through the planning process too, so I’ll talk you all through it here.


The current layout of the house.

Initially the brief was ‘a glass box extension to create a living/dining family space adjacent to the kitchen.’ As you will see from the existing plans below, we currently have a living room, a dining room and a kitchen downstairs, plus the W.C. but the rooms are all off the hallway and just not ideal for family life. We very quickly realised after having Bea that we needed space where we could watch her while we cooked etc and this is even more necessary with Cora as she is a little terror! Also, our Kitchen is just that, a kitchen. We have a peninsula with seating at the worktop which is where we often feed Bea or eat together, but it’s a bit like the three monkeys sitting in a row, isn’t ideal for incorporating a high chair, and I long for a kitchen table to eat around. Although we are lucky to have a dining room it’s a total pain hauling everything in there and then it means there are two rooms to tidy after dinner instead of one!


The ground floor plans: The blue area is the new living space where the deck used to be, the utility area is green and the new WC is pink.

As the plans progressed I started to think about other things that would make family life easier and the biggest thing I wanted was a utility room. Currently our washing machine and tumble dryer are in the cellar, which although dry is damp and dusty and cold, not to mention filthy. It’s a bit like having it in a cross between a garden shed and a garage, and tricky to go down there when there are children crawling or toddling about the house too, that I can’t trust not to come after me. The stone steps to get down are the stuff of nightmares where parenting is concerned. To have those upstairs, with a sink for dirty jobs and a second fridge/freezer plus some storage is pretty much the holy grail for me and I set about trying to convince Pete we needed one. As it happened the back of our house is a bit like a tetris block when viewed from above and extending just the kitchen didn’t square off the house without going around the corner too – this meant a bigger living/dining space and making use of the space which is currently a bin store, into a utility room.


The first floor plans – the purple area shows the new extended bathroom.

As time went on this project became the final stage in creating our medium to long term home, (I’ll never say never to moving again but we plan to be here a while!) and once the idea of the utility room worked out we then had the option to build upwards and extend our family bathroom which is currently a bit awkward and certainly not ideal for the whole family to be in at bath time. Extending the bathroom also meant we could do something I had seen a neighbour down the road do which was take the awkwardly placed separate toilet off the landing and put it into the bathroom. The landing currently doglegs around the toilet, so removing it meant the landing would be much more spacious and we could put in a window to bring light onto that level as it currently only gets borrowed light from other rooms.


How the exterior looks to the rear currently.

Initially we (well, Pete,) discussed the plans as phase one and two. Living/dining area first then the rest later, but as the scale of the project became apparent I became more certain that I was not going to do it twice, especially with the kids living through it too. We can’t afford to move out while the work goes on so I certainly don’t want to put ourselves through it again and it’s all so interlinked that it wouldn’t have made sense to stop and come back to it later either. There was no easy way of splitting the project.


What the exterior will look like.

As this also represents the final stage of our renovation, we can finally sort out the hall, stairs and landing which I have hated looking at since we moved in but it didn’t make sense to tackle (and later have builders traipsing through,) before we did the rest. As there will be walls knocked through into the hall and landing we will be replacing the floor, carpets, plastering, decorating and finally making it just the way I have imagined it.

So you can look forward to a lot more posts from me on bathrooms, living spaces, utility rooms, hallways, and all the details in-between, plus the smallest room in the house, our W.C. ;) Now the work has started although I’m anxious to see it progress I really cannot wait to have it finished and am so excited to crack on with the fun decorating part. So many decisions though!

Until next time…!

Rebecca

*All architectural plans and drawings by our Architects SpaceAP.

Recommended: Cheeky Wipes

One of the things I am focusing on for January Joy and 2018 is reducing our waste so today I thought I’d share one of my favourite changes we made last year – we switched to Cheeky Wipes. I’d heard of Cheeky Wipes when Bea was still in nappies but didn’t give them a lot of thought and as I became more interested she was nearing toilet training and it didn’t seem the right time to invest. We have never branched into reusable nappies, but although I was pretty economical with the wipes when changing a nappy, it horrified me to see Pete going through multiple wipes each time or the amount that got used cleaning up after a meal for example. So I decided to take the plunge once I was thinking of moving on from cottonwool and water for Cora’s bum.

I should add here that Cora suffered with quite a sore bum when she was little and we found the best way to manage it apart from making sure her nappy was changed promptly was using cotton wool and water to clean her as even water wipes did irritate her skin, which was another factor that attracted me to cheeky wipes. If you haven’t already heard of them, cheeky wipes are essentially reusable (i.e. you wash them,) wipes, not just for bums but you can use them for faces after meals too. The ‘wipes’ are little squares of cotton, bamboo or microfibre – like flannels and you can get them in kits which come with clean and mucky boxes. Essentially you soak them in water and a little essential oil, wring them out and leave in the ‘clean’ box to use as required. Then you have a ‘dirty box’ and a mesh bag hooked inside, pre-filled with water and some oil again for freshness, where you put the used wipes to soak. When you’re ready to wash them you simply lift the bag out and throw it into the machine. They wash as normal at 30 degrees with the rest of your washing and work their way out of the bag during the cycle, ready to be soaked and scented in the clean box again – no drying required.

So here’s the nitty gritty. Do they really work? The answer is yes and I absolutely love them. We bought natural bamboo velour which have a softer smoother side and a more textured flannel side but with the softness of bamboo. Because they are textured the grip for cleaning is fantastic and even sticky or thick poo’s (Sorry, TMI!) can be easily removed with just a couple of swipes. I rarely need more than one wipe to be honest and I feel like Cora almost gets a proper wash every time she has her nappy changed which is a real bonus as she doesn’t get bathed daily because of her dry skin. In terms of cost, a full kit (with the two boxes, 25 wipes, and the oils,) comes in at about £40 but they currently have £10 off the kits and you can save any time using this link: (which as a previous customer I got sent to share with friends) Get 15% off any order over £40. We weren’t particularly heavy wipe users but it still doesn’t take long to have a cost benefit over disposables and I feel good every time I use them that I’m not adding to landfill or putting damaging waste into the water system and ultimately our waterways and sea’s.

We also invested in the hands and faces kit as we were about to embark on weaning. I love having the rainbow microfibre cloths to hand (you keep them damp in a box in just the same way and instead of having a dirty box just throw them in the washing machine ready for the next wash) especially as we do baby led weaning which is more than a little messy! They are super soft and pick up all the bits of food in every little chubby finger crease, even weetabix which gets everywhere and dries like cement! They are even still in regular use at Bea’s age so I can see them being incredible value.

You might be wondering what happens when you go out. Of course you could still use disposable wipes for convenience but we decided that if we were making the change for environmental reasons we needed to commit to it. The kits come with 2 bags to take out and about with you. You simply pop a couple of damp wipes in the fresh bag and when they’re used put them in the dirty bag which is lined with a mesh bag like the dirty box, that zips out and throws in the machine too. So it’s really not difficult to eliminate disposable wipes completely. And if you want to extend your environmental efforts Cheeky wipes now also do Cloth Sanitary Pad kits, Reusable Make-up remover kits and even toilet paper alternatives.

I’d love to know if you use Cheeky Wipes or something similar, or if you feel inspired to make the switch! I’ll happily answer any questions you’ve got too!

Rebecca x

You might also like to read:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...