Thanks for bearing with me over the last couple of days. We are having a bit of a nightmare in the house. Having decided to re-do the lounge in time for Christmas (in October, so not that last minute!) we were so close on Tuesday when the fire fitter, joiner and decorator were all starting or finishing off. We haven’t even got a tree up yet and the house is a mess with new furniture stacked all over the old stuff. Disaster struck and the totally incompetent fire fitter (who clearly didn’t know how to work with marble,) cracked the marble hearth completely in two, meaning we couldn’t get it done. He then disappeared saying he was getting a new one and texted the next day to say he wasn’t coming back. He says he’s going to pay towards a replacement but I’m not holding my breath. We have now got someone to do the job but it will be on Monday so Christmas remains on hold; I’m taking until next week to get straight and try to enjoy what’s left of the Christmas build up. Plus I want to enjoy Bea after ignoring her for days whilst trying to organise builders etc and feeling like the worlds worst mum.
In the meantime, the sales started today! Here’s a few bargains to get you started! (Shop quick and you’ll still get them in time for Christmas!)
I’m a little bit behind with these posts and time and development marches on apace so it’s almost hard to remember what was happening in Bea’s fourth month. Last time I wrote about her naps being problematic and her first real changes that made her less of a newborn and more of a baby. The month that followed seemed like a godsend of perfect calm and enjoyment.
Bea had her first cold at 14 weeks but we seem to have emerged relatively unscathed as she was mild and just snotty with it really. Fortunately it didn’t affect her sleep. Throughout the month she was smiley and happy regardless and it cleared after about a week.
Probably the biggest change of this month was to feeding. I had noticed that Bea was getting more and more fussy when she fed, pulling off and messing around instead of taking a good feed. I was still feeding her 2 hourly at this point (not on a schedule, thats just about when she wanted it,) and whilst travelling when I didn’t take as much notice of the time, I noticed she fed much better when she showed me she was hungry. As a consequence now she is fed about 6-7 times in 24 hours, 2.5 – 3 hourly in the day, then a dream feed at 10 or 11 pm and she feeds much better.
As you can see here, Bea is getting more and more active. She loves standing up and supports her own weight with only a finger supporting both of her hands, even stamping her feet up and down sometimes! It’s much more clear too what she likes and does’t like, as she kicks and wriggles with excitement or pleasure, or gives us a downturned mouth or wobbling lip before a cry (usually when she’s tired!)
Best of all, after what felt like weeks of waiting, Bea finally laughed! I had been feeling like she was on the edge of laughing for a couple of weeks and was sure she would do it while we were on holiday, then on the very last day she did, out of the blue! I had worried I was missing it amongst the other sounds she makes but it was a proper peel of laughter, although it caused me to shout so loud that she stopped just as suddenly as she started! It’s taken a while but the laughs are coming more and more often now. It’s a cliche to say it, but it really is the best sound in the world.
The other big change has been to napping in the cot now. We switched to a grobag when we got back from Florida and I also immediately started putting Bea down to nap in her cot instead of the crib, mainly so I could do things in our bedroom while she slept elsewhere. It’s been a pretty seamless transition – she doesn’t seem to have noted any difference to the crib and if she’s tricky to get down sometimes I can’t say it’s any different to when she was in the crib. We still have her in our room in the crib however in the evening and overnight.
When we got back from Florida naps were brilliant and we started getting some 1.5 hour naps in the morning, both while we were away and when we got back. The last month however has been another story… I’ll save it for next time!
When I’m photographing my house as each room gets improved, I’m often despairing that it doesn’t look as good as I imagine on camera, or compare to the home tours captured around the interwebs. This post by Emily Henderson shows comparison images of her home photographed AND photoshopped for Domino! Who knew they even did that for house tours? Well, I feel a whole lot better now!
Loving the weather inspired goods made by PygmyCloud on Folksy (found via 91 Magazine – did you know you can get a yearly subscription for £7? A perfect present for a crafty friend.)
I’ve been reading lots about sleep patterns lately after a pretty fraught week with Bea (Growth spurt? Wonder week? Sleep regression? Who cares. It’s passing!) and this site has lots of useful information.
I’m more interested in planning the decor of my Christmas table to be honest than the food on it and I’m more than tempted by the lovely decorations and candleholders or sticks from Rockett St George, plus some of them are already in the sale!
Also, don’t forget #FFfestivefun! I’m so enjoying seeing all your tagged photos’s – check out the prompts here and keep joining in!
Today I’m hoping you guys can offer me some tips and advice, and in exchange I’m sharing THE best prepare ahead chocolate tart for your Christmas spread.
When Pete and I bought our house we had grand plans of family get togethers, now we have the space for everyone to stay over. We immediately invited everyone to have Christmas at ours this year. Then we had a baby. Now we’ve got 9 on Christmas day and 11 on Boxing day and I’m starting to panic! There’ll be Christmas dinner to make, and an evening buffet, then a cooked late lunch on Boxing day and an evening spread again, not to mention nibbles after church on the big day and breakfasts. Of course everyone will help and I’m delegating dishes to various people, but I’m trying to give serious thought to how to make it as easy as possible with made-ahead and simple dishes that mean I won’t spend all day in the kitchen. And that’s where you guys come in! I need your tips and hints on what can be made ahead or great ideas for stress free entertaining! How do you cater for large groups if you have a big family – we don’t, so it’s all new to me!
Now, onto that tart…
Did you watch Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes? It was pretty good viewing and we tried this Cheats Chocolate Tart after seeing it on one of the episodes, for a family party. It’s not a quick make, but it doesn’t take forever and it could be made 2 days in advance. Added to that it looks A-mazing and feeds a crowd (16 at a stretch,) because it’s so rich. And the alcohol gives it that festive edge.
Now, first up with the confessions, I didn’t make this tart, Pete did, but neither of us have ever made pastry and it was still super easy, with no soggy bottom situation! The filling is ridiculously easy too and the simple topping makes it all look far more special and skilful than it actually is to make. Thats a coffee and liquor laced cream on top by the way…
You can check out the recipe here (and a picture of the whole tart… this slice is all that remained of the one we made, which speaks volumes about how good it was!) and the book it’s from – Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes. We’ve since made it again with equal success and it will definitely be featuring in my entertaining plans over Christmas and New Year.
So, please give me your tips on entertaining for a crowd and your Christmas day secrets! And make this tart. You will thank me. I promise.
This year I’m looking for a Christmas dress that doesn’t break the bank as it’s likely I’ll wear it for all of 5 minutes before losing patience and opting for something more baby friendly. I was pretty taken with this gorgeous tulle number from M&S which at £45 fits the bill perfectly. The deep v-front is loose enough to pull down for feeding and I’m thinking it’ll look great with a jumper over it on colder but festive days if I want to dress up and look fancy sometime. It’s the nod to the festive season my Winter capsule needs so look out for it featuring again here soon…
I’m back again with the last “What to Buy” of 2014. I find December such a magical time. In years past, my Hubby and I would always go on holiday in the first week of December and come back around the 16th/17th, and whilst the winter sun was welcome, we always lamented missing the build-up. Working in a big city makes things very festive with brass bands and Carolers welcoming you at the station when you arrive in the morning, not to mention the Christmas Lights, and I always feel I ought to dress according to the season. Here then, is my round-up of things to buy, not only for the cold weather (wow, the temperature has REALLY dropped), but for the magic too
Subtle, or a bit more in your face, something with a little bit of bling is a sure-fire way to light up the season. As I mentioned back in my November “How I Wore” post, this skirt is a really nice way to introduce the trend, and I also love these trousers. Available in limited sizes on line, when I went in-store, there were plenty. Wear with something red to really get into the Festive spirit!
Who doesn’t like a little bit of sequin at Christmas time? From dainty embellishment to full on glamour for your Christmas Party, there’s something for everyone out there. The magpie in me is drawn to these trousers, but I also love this throw on coat. Perfect for office to after-work drinks!
Nothing says Christmas more than red. I always used to wear something red on Christmas Day, a tradition I picked up from my Mum whose favourite colour it is, and it’s something that has stuck with me. I’m in love with the Uniqlo Extra Fine Merino Jumpers and one in Red is firmly on my Christmas list – I tend to wear the Mens small as I like the fit better. If you aren’t one for wearing a lot of red in your wardrobe choices, then a nice introduction with a red lip or nail is a good idea.
Rebecca started my thinking about these with her post on the delicious Ugg’s, but I have also found some other options for something that is essential over winter. Warm, partly stylish, but practical feet, especially when there are children in tow, are a must. I really like these Ilse Jacobsen ones, as well as these Zara Fur Lined bikers – a very good deal for leather at under £100.
Honestly, you can’t sneeze without seeing these in all the shops. They are a fun way of updating an outfit if your budget doesn’t stretch to something new for your Christmas Party. I’d quite like Santa to bring me a Kate Spade license plate one
So are you feeling Christmassy yet? I’d love to see if any of you wear any of the above as part of the #FFFestiveFun challenge You won’t see me and what I’ve been wearing at the end of December, as in usual FF style, there won’t be any posts between Christmas and New Year, but I look forward to 2015 and seeing what will be around in the store to share with you all. So, all that remains is to wish you all very Merry Christmasas, and healthy, happy and prosperous New Year’s!
They from M&S, they’re £35 and if you have ever fancied a pair of glitter heels but not wanted to splurge, then now’s the time. As an aside, they also have a very practical and on-trend block heel which will make them more comfortable and easier to walk in, if you happen to be out of practice like me.
This morning I’m continuing my list of essential (for us) items as we learn what we did and didn’t need and use as Bea gets bigger. This isn’t the obvious essentials (see more on that here,) for a baby, but the things that have been used every day and made a big difference to our lives, the things I’d recommend to every new mum. So here you go, the up to 4 months edition!
Baby Sleep Timer app
A Mummy essential first… this sleep timer saved my sanity! Around the 8-10 week mark Bea started to cry more than usual, particularly before sleeps. We exhausted ourselves thinking about what could be wrong and after a few days I realised we were totally missing her sleep cues and she was getting over-tired. This app tracks the baby’s sleep and as a result I know what her patterns are. When I’m out and about I find it really useful to know when she is ‘due’ a sleep (as we don’t use a rigid routine yet,) and it helps me stop second guessing myself as to what’s wrong when she is simply tired. Being able to see the patterns also helps me plan. Now she is 4 months we’re working towards a 3-4 nap routine and knowing what time her last sleep of the day is and when bedtime is due has made life so much easier. It essentially means we work with her sleep routine rather than trying to bend her to ours – far less painful!
Giraffe Squeakaboo Squeaker and Rattle Toy
This rattle was a gift and is one of her favourite toys. It is the perfect size for her tiny hands and that’s why it’s a firm favourite for practicing her grabbing, plus there’s a bonus jingle when she finally gets there and safe gnawing!
Bigjigs Toys BB050 Mini Roll Rattle (Blue)
This is also a favourite toy – it contains a bell, a squeak and crinkle in the stick part and she love to stare at it when I shake the bell and try to grab it. There is also textured fabric and it invariably goes straight into her mouth!
Mamas & Papas – MAGIC – Stargaze Stripe Playmat
On the toys front, this is hands down the best, well actually the only ‘baby entertainment’ buy we made. There are many cheaper baby gyms on the market but we bought this at 6 weeks and having bought her no other toys thus far, I felt it was worth splashing out on. The other reason we went for this over standard gyms was the integrated lights and sounds. I reasoned that at 6 months she didn’t really look round much and certainly wasn’t grabbing, so a static gym with hanging toys wasn’t going to do much. This has lights built in to the canopy that twinkle with very relaxing (spa-like rather than nerve-jangling baby) music! There’s a kick plate to change the lights and music, and dangling bits that do the same. She is absolutely transfixed when she’s on it and after 3 days gave a big smile the minute the music came on. Every morning she goes on there while I get breakfast and have a bit of me time to plan the day.
GroBag We used to swaddle Bea but when we came back from Florida and the temperature had dropped, plus Bea had grown big enough, we transitioned to a GroBag. I actually bought a neutral one from Mini Club at Boots, but any brand with the side poppers to adjust the size is essential, particularly if you have a small baby, due to the large age range on them. It’s one less thing to worry about knowing she can’t smother under blankets, particularly now she naps in the cot and blankets would have been harder to tuck in.
Mamas & Papas Baby Snug Raspberry
Now Bea is 4 months she is napping less and taking much more interest in the world around her. She’s not even close to sitting yet but we wanted her to be able to sit with us sometimes, to get a different view of the world, as otherwise she is always lying flat looking up. We don’t have a bouncer so it’s great to give me some hands free time when I’m eating, or preparing food and I imagine it will be useful when we start weaning with the built in tray. I also like that this one grows with the child, as the coloured insert slips out – perfect if you have a big baby!
So readers, do you have any of these items? Have I missed anything that you found a life saver at this stage?
I don’t know about you, but it’s getting close to that time of year when you start racking your brains for gifts for your best girls. Not just your best girls, but your best girls that have virtually everything and need basically nothing. Well, nothing that I can afford to buy them anyway so I’ve come up with some thoughts of my own.
Over the past year or so a couple of friends and I decided against buying thingsfor each other, instead we’ve purchased and arranged things-to-do-together. Let me tell you about a few to get your mind ticking…
Tatty Devine Necklace making at SelfridgesBoth being fans of Tatty Divine jewellery, I decided to take my friend Laura to a Tatty Devine “pop up” to design a personalised necklace.
You pick up a little card, write the word(s) you’d like on the necklace, select your font, charm and chain by ticking the relevant boxes, and then, using the cute samples, select your colour scheme. If you’re like us – always in a state of FOMO-Decision-Paralysis – you’ll spend a good hour deciding on these various factors alone.
You then hand over your form, pay and within an hour or so it’s ready to pick up. The best bit was that the pop up was in Selfridges so whilst we waited we did some Christmas shopping (ahem… self gifting…) and spent some time catching up in the bar. We could have hung around to watch the necklace being made, but after perusing the rest of the stand and mentally spending hundreds of pounds creating bespoke charm bracelets and necklaces we thought it best to step away!
Keep your eyes on the Tatty Devine website or blog for news of their next pop up, or book on to one of the many workshops here for a more hands-on experience.
Gin Tasting at the London Gin Club
Laura and I share not only a love of quirky jewellery but also a love of gin. It was a bit of a no brainer then, that an evening at The London Gin Club was an experience to share!
I purchased a tasting voucher from their sister site London Peculiar and a few vintage-looking postcards to pop in the envelope with the voucher and then booked us a table.
The voucher entitles you to a tasting menu of a number of gins in little labelled vials (very Alice in Wonderland), bottles of tonic, large glasses of ice and tiny plates of fruity, floral or herby accompaniments chosen carefully to complement the flavours of the gin.
I’m not sure that I learned a lot, but we had a lot of fun!
Personal shopping at Topshop
This was a gift I received in return from Laura. She booked in to the Kensington store rather than the Oxford Circus one as we thought it’d be a bit of a calmer experience. Upon confirmation we were sent a form to complete with the usual details on height, dress and shoe size, eye/hair/skin colour and other vital statistics along with questions around the kind of outfits we were looking for (a special occasion, an interview, a festival, a holiday etc), style icons and any other relevant information such as a long-standing inability to find a particular item or a longing to try a certain style.
I was preparing for a number of big weddings, one of us was planning an Ibiza capsule wardrobe (hand luggage only!) and the other a new fancy work wardrobe, so we spent a delicious few hours together answering those questions with gusto. Those responses could form a blog post in themselves, but I won’t bore you with them now!
Upon arrival we were welcomed in to a private room, given glasses of champagne and instructed to relax on the couches, chat and flick through their stacks of magazines whilst they prepped the changing room with our dressing rails.
I’ll be honest, I was expecting to have a brilliant time and to try on some new pieces but I wasn’t expecting great, life-changing things from the stylist’s choices, as I like to think I know my own sense of style and how to push its boundaries myself. I have to say, she hit the nail on the head with almost every item she chose. She managed to capture our signature styles perfectly and find a way to make each of us step out of our comfort zones. I walked away with what can only be described as a miracle – new jeans! – as well as some accessories and a fresher outlook on my personal style. Apparently I’m not too old for Topshop!
It was free to book, so buy a voucher for your giftee to spend on the day and it’s a gift and an experience all in one!
Butchery class at the Ginger Pig
Not one that I’ve taken part in myself, as I’m not in to cookery and I’m not a big meat eater, but it went down a treat with my husband. My friend and I purchased a voucher each for our menfolk to attend one of their classes, bought them both a Ginger Pig cookbook, popped the voucher inside the front cover and wished them both a very happy birthday.
They booked in for a “pork” classone Sunday evening, which started with a professional butcher talking them through the various cuts of meat, as he, well, disassembled the pig. Along the way he gave them information on each cut, how and when it’s best to cook it, what to ask your local butcher for and so on. The class were then tested on what they’d learned as they reassembled it under his watchful eye, and then moved on to more useable skills such as de-boning, wrapping and tying butchers’ knots.
The class finished with a mouth-watering meal and wine before they were all sent home with what seemed like their body weight in prime cuts of pork. Guess what we ate for dinner for the days that followed…
Like I said, not a personal interest for me, but if you’re in to cookery, this seemed to go down a treat!
Cocktail class at Harvey Nichols
Trying not to dwell on alcohol too much, I’ll refer you back to the blog post I wrote about this a little while ago. Again it was purchased for a friend’s birthday and the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning with two of my favourites doing something fun and memorable – Check it out here.
Other gift experiences that have I have received or gifted have included a night at the cabaret (with dress up accessories for the night included in the gift box), fascinator making, Segway racing and white water rafting and chocolate tasting (as described here.)
And so, as I enter the final stages of my Christmas shopping, have you any ideas to give me in return?
Since we are almost at the start of December, to get us all into the spirit of things, I thought I’d set up a little challenge for you all.
This started as me thinking about it as a “style challenge”, as I know those prompts help me to plan what I’m wearing on a daily basis, but this is going to be much more about the upcoming Christmas season, and the fun that’s about to be had.
Welcome to #FFfestivefun!
Above you will see some prompts we’d love you all to get involved with – either by way of a style challenge (this is how I’m going to approach it) or by interpreting them in other ways so you can join in anyway
Rebecca has created this kind of thing in the past with #JanuaryJoy so it won’t be new to you, but as a reminder, the numbers in the image above correspond to dates. As is the norm here on FF, there will be no weekend tasks. You don’t have to do every single one – just share what you can. I’ll even do a round up mid-month of what’s been going on
If you would like to follow along with Festive Fun please feel free to spread the word on your own blog (and use the image above,) or tweet about it using the tag #FFFestiveFun. It would also great if you can post pictures on Instagram using the same hashtag.
I can’t wait to see what you will all be doing! Roll on Monday…