Art Amateur…

I love art. Despite that, many of the walls in our home are still blank, simply out of my inability to pull the plug and purchase something to decorate them with. I hope in future we will have some spare cash to invest in beautiful limited editions or even some original prints and that stops me spending money on lovely prints now sometimes, despite there being so many out there.


‘You are my Happiness’ – Yvonne Coomber

When we renovated the lounge we really had a mind-block about what to put on the walls. It’s not a casual room, although the curtains keep it a bit less formal, (as do the constantly scattered toys on the floor nowadays!) so my usual choice of fun prints wasn’t quite right and my go to for simpler rooms of photographic prints or black and white prints wasn’t right in a room with so much colour.

For my birthday Pete bought me this Yvonne Coomber Limited edition print and it’s absolutely perfect for the space. We discovered her work at the Scarlet Hotel in Cornwall on our first anniversary and have many a time considered splashing out on an original. The prices have doubled since we started looking at them and realistically we’re not yet at the stage we should spend the money on one anyway, so I was thrilled with this. For all the reasons above, I never would have bought it myself, but it’s made me realise we should have done it sooner!

It made me wonder, have you ever spent a bit more on a piece of special art? Or if you haven’t is there something you always wish you had bought or would like to in future?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

9 months with Bea

Bea is 10 months tomorrow so I’m a little behind with these posts – I must catch up before she gets to One! The last 2 months have been so much fun, despite my being back at work, as Bea is becoming more and more of an interactive little person.

We’ve been lucky enough to be getting around and meeting blog friends recently and made a trip up to Scotland to see Roz in Glasgow and met up with Kirsty too. Bea loved meeting the babies and her tour of the forever house then topped off the visit by waving for the very first time at Kirsty!

Since crawling, life has been all about moving for Bea. Toys are no longer of interest and instead she’s all about handles, plugs, wires, radiator valves and anything else inappropriate. She’s moved on really quickly from crawling to pulling up at 35 weeks; Only 2 weeks later and she was standing in her cot and we had to lower the cot base. We’ve covered all the plugs with child proof socket covers but theres still a lot to do to baby proof the house and we just try to make sure there’s nothing for her to hurt herself on around on the floor.

Bea has never been a babbly baby, and in fact when other babies were ba ba ba-ing Bea was still quiet, just doing occasional shouty noises. Around 36 weeks though everything changed and chattering was the order of the day. She started making ‘Bwa’ sounds over and over and over and chattering back to you if you repeated them back to her :)

It didn’t take long before her repertoire of noises was improved however, now we have Ca ca ca… too!

I’ll leave it there before I fall asleep or encroach on the next month, do share your stories of where you’re at with your little ones if you have them!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS
8 Months, 7 months, 6 months, 5 months, 4 months, 3 months, 2 months and the first month with Bea.

Renovation Ruminations… The Garden

I have been ridiculously excited about our next renovation project for weeks, not least because it doesn’t involve my house being a complete mess! We decided this summer to tackle the garden, before another summer goes by with it a mess. Last year it was pretty much a building site and now we are home more with Bea, it’s the perfect time to get something done. It does however mean putting a hold on everything in the house for a few more months.


Napa Garden inspired by Piet Oudolf

Before I share the before’s, I thought I share a few of my inspiration pictures… Rome wasn’t built in a day and never were that statement more true than with a garden. Its going to be pretty bare at first and will take years to reach full maturity but we’re ready to play the long game and enjoy it as it grows :)


Italian Piet Oudolf Garden

A key factor in our re-design was the planting. I have fallen in love with modern prairie style planting which is very fashionable in gardens right now. Piet Oudolf is the guy behind the planting movement which involves mixing grasses with perennials and embracing plants for all their seasonal displays, particularly their structural form and autumn displays of seed pods and spires of dead flower heads.


Piet Oudolf Gardens in Winter at RHS Wisley

I really wanted an outdoor eating area but with a cover to it. We already have the decking area outside the kitchen which is shaded most of the day but perfect for drinks and casual eating after about 4 when the sun hits it until up to 8 pm in the high summer. In the day time however, one corner of our garden gets the full sun from morning until about 4pm, perfect for day time BBQ’s. I don’t like to eat in full sun however and our BBQ area will be down here too, so I’m imagining string lights hanging from the trees and canopy with a big dining table for lots of impromptu entertaining.



Rustic long dining table // Modern pergola

We gave up our allotment when we moved into this house, as it has a reasonable sized garden, so we plan to have a designated area to grow vegetables and I would love a little greenhouse for pottering in and sowing seeds with Bea! Pete has requested a decent sized area of grass for kickabouts and playing in the garden with kids, but I want it to be child friendly in other ways… places to hide in and behind, paths to follow and cycle round, and places to sit and read.



Greenhouse // Piet Oudolf Border planting // Kitchen garden boxes

As we are taking down our garage which currently takes up at least a quarter of the garden and is HUGE, we are going to need some better screening at the back and some trees for privacy. I’ve been looking for varieties that won’t grow too big or spread, casting a shadow on our neighbours gardens, but that will work hard for their place in our small garden, with interesting form, beautiful leaves and colour, with seasonal interest like flowers in spring or fruits in autumn too.


Birches for screening

Work started last week so I’ll share some before pictures very soon and some ‘in progress’ and ‘after’ pics soon after that!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Spotted: Secret Linen Store Kids!

You all know I love the Secret Linen Store. Modern designs and great quality at competitive prices. Now I’m very excited to say they have extended their talents to kids bedding and it’s just as inspired as the original range.

We’re not yet at the stage of needing ‘big bed’ linen but when we do I have already shuddered at the thought of character emblazoned kids bedding or pretty pretty ditzy florals and cliched cars and space ships. These designs feel fresh, modern and on trend enough to keep stylish parents happy, while in bright and striking colours that kids will love too!

I love the stylish grey stripes and fun teal bubbles!

What do you think readers? Would your big kids like these?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

What to Buy: May

Morning Readers!

I totally was not expecting to be writing this post so apologies its late, but Bubba No.2 still hasn’t deemed it appropriate to make their appearance (perhaps they are taking after Princess Charlotte and have decided to be fashionably late too).

It’s not going to be a terribly long one though, as to be honest, I’ve mostly been ensconced in getting back into our house after a 4.5 month hiatus whilst we had an extension done, and not perusing the shops in favour of decorating and moving back in (we are now back in! YAY!). There’s nothing like a deadline (or hard stop as I’ve come to say thanks to my US colleagues) to make one more productive. If however you wanted advice in choosing the best grey for your walls, or which flooring to choose for a kitchen, then along with Rebecca, I’m currently probably your woman.

That being said, there are a few trends below that I think you’ll need to jump on sooner rather than later if you’d like to wear them over the warmer summer months…

Broderie Anglaise

M&S // Whistles // French Connection

I remember my Mum making me dresses using this beautiful fabric when I was younger but in my early teens I rebelled thinking it was way too “babyish” and pretty to be wearing at my age. I’m now eating humble pie. The prettiest sun-dresses are made from this lovely fabric, and the best bit is that it’s 100% cotton meaning nice and cool for those scorching days. There’s nothing nicer than crisp white with denim and sandals for a purely summer feel.

Ghillie Flats

New Look // Topshop // Office // Next

So named as they are the shoe that Scottish or Irish dancers wear, there is no getting away from them this season. They literally are everywhere. I have the New Look and Next pairs here, but the Topshop version are a great alternative and come in three colour ways, and I have it on good authority that the Office versions are very comfortable. Great to dress up a look and still wear flats – either for the office or otherwise.

Multi-use Bags

Mango // Topshop // Gap // ASOS

Not the most technical of terms I realise, but what I mean here are those bags that can be just as easily used on holiday for the beach as they can for work purposes. OK, so the basket is probably less of a work bag, but some of you may have dress down Fridays, so why not?! I really like the Mango option – ticking both the boho and monochrome boxes for this summer. I actually have a version of the Gap one below (in thinner stripes) to use as a nappy bag for No 2 since some lovely people bought me this as a gift (in a different colour) which I can just drop inside it :)

Off-the-Shoulder

Dress // Warehouse Top // New Look Top // Jumpsuit

There’s no getting away from it, a bare shoulder is where it’s at right now. I wouldn’t condone this look for work, but for a weekend look, or even for something more dressy, showing your collarbone and shoulder is quite easy to do. I really like the ease of this New Look top as it’s not clingy and therefore you aren’t in 80s Fame territory. The same goes for the Warehouse one – it’s a a good price point to try out the trend too. Styled with some of this seasons wedge sandals and a denim skirt or flares, you’ll be good to go for embracing the 70s thing that’s around at the moment.

Jungle Drums

Topshop // Warehouse

Apt that this is actually the colour of one of the rooms in our new loft extension, but there is something quite fresh about a palm print, and this season doesn’t disappoint. The Warehouse dress below is so eye-catching in the flesh – and easy to wear. The Topshop shirt dress could also be a winner – especially in the BF stakes. We’ll have to see.

Occasion Dresses

Karen Millen // Topshop // Karen Millen

Lastly I thought I’d share a few “occasion” dresses I’ve seen as we are headed into Wedding season. If I had something to go to this summer, I’d be wearing one of these, probably one of the Karen Millen ones as I seem to have become obsessed with the retailer of late. Their summer collection is amazing, not least their new Art Atelier collection. Stunning.

So there we have it readers. Before I go I thought I’d just mention that the Shirt dress I had talked about in March is now available at The Outnet. Let’s see if it lives up to the picture I have in my head!

Have great week’s all, and hopefully next time I post, I’ll be able to share some exciting news with you ;)

Til then (…and wish me luck)!

Erin xx

 

Spotted: Stationery supplies

I’ve been trying to get my stationery supplies in order lately. I’m always sending off parcels and I like to add some personal touches that make all the difference when it arrives on the recipients doorstep!


All from UnwrapColour

This Etsy shop has a great selection of Washi tape, tags and twine and even better is in the UK – My order arrived 2 days later and I love the honeycomb tape I bought above! I thought I’d share incase you need a nudge to get supplies in!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

My house: Kitchen reveal

This post has been a very long time coming… I think we were back in the kitchen and using it about a month before Bea was born in July last year, but its taken me a considerable amount of time to take decent photos in good light, then I was thwarted by a camera malfunction (which is why some of the photos show different items in them!) but it’s finally ready to share. (Want a recap on what we started out with? Theres a few more pictures in our new house tour.)

I’ve shared various planning posts about the kitchen before which I have linked at the end of the article. If you read any of these posts before, you might know that we bought an ex-display kitchen that was about to be dismantled from a shop that was being refitted. It was a massive saving and whilst it was still not a small amount, it saved us I reckon about 50% on similar inframe solid wood kitchens. I absolutely love the style and the quality is also amazing. The smaller drawers have wooden dividers and felt lining inside, everything is soft close and has a heavy feel of quality about it which I’m really happy with. The units were originally a mix of dark brown and this soft grey (Farrow and Ball’s Dove Tale) so the whole thing was repainted to match. The handles were part of the deal and I’m so glad I didn’t have to choose any myself as I think it might have sent me over the edge! We chose Great White (also F&B) for the walls as it has a hint of pink which I felt the room needed as it’s west and north facing so can appear cold. It goes beautifully with the kitchen units I’m pleased to say!

We chose all SMEG appliances, mainly after searching for a range style oven. There were two reasons we went for a range instead of sleek inbuilt overns… firstly the kitchen aesthetic suited a range and secondly, we actually couldn’t configure the layout to work with a wall mounted oven set up anyway. Once we found the right range (we wanted one with clean lines and so many are covered in twidly buttons or have vintage design details,) we then looked at the rest of the SMEG range and found them to be competitive with other brands of comparative quality so we bought a 60/40 fridge freezer and our dishwasher from SMEG too. So far, we’re very happy with all of the appliances, particularly the oven. :)

The sink (as un-sexy as it is to talk about) was a big deal for me. In the old kitchen there had been a single sink and I can’t tell you how much it irritated me that there was no second or half sink to empty things into for rinse into. I wanted a sleek modern square one and it took me ages to find one that was reasonably priced but I finally did in B&Q, from their Cooke and Lewis range. I know not everyone likes stainless steel but it worked with the stainless steel range and hood and I like the finish personally. For the taps I searched high and low, but we ended up reusing the tap from the old kitchen when I realised all the ones I liked were exactly the same!

The biggest thing for me was the work tops and we finally went with Carrara marble. I LOVED the look of marble but nobody has anything good to say about it in a kitchen. All the stories are true – marble chips, scratches, stuns and etches with abandon, leading to a ‘patina’ of wear which doesn’t bother me at all. The one thing I was terrified of was staining but I’ve found coffee, juice and fruit spots on the marble and all have simply wiped off (although it had been sealed prior to and after installation.) The marble was actually cheaper than any other stone work surface and I’m really glad we went for it still.

The floor was another huge decision – I wanted real wood and although again, people don’t recommend it, I didn’t see any reason why not to go for it – although a kitchen floor does get wet, you don’t leave it wet do you?! We ened up however going for Kardean and its another decision we are really happy with. It looks fab – I wanted a parquet herringbone effect but only the top of the range was available in parquet style tiles. I was very particular about the colour and finish of the wood effect which was only available in the (fortunately) cheapest range, so we chopped the tiles in half and ended up with this oversized herringbone effect. It actually works to make the space look bigger and I love it.

Lastly, the light was the result of a bit of trial and error. I originally wanted 2 pendants over the island and bought some copper fisherman style ones from M&S, but unfortunately they only reached 80cm long from the ceiling. As our house is old with over 3m high ceilings they kind of hung half mast and looked insignificant. The same night they we installed (and removed swiftly) I spotted this statement pendant and made a snap decision to buy it. The electricians weren’t very pleased with me but I’m happy with the touch of glamour it adds to the space.

The stools are the old ones we bought as a temporary measure for the island we used in the kitchen before it was re-done. I haven’t found the right thing to replace them and I actually quite like the pop of colour!

I’ll leave it there for now although I do have a couple of other posts to share on the kitchen including what we would do differently in retrospect and how the things we have chosen have worn, which might be useful for some of you planning future projects. In the mean time, I hope you like it! :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Suppliers/Sources:

Previous Kitchen posts:

How to Wear: April

Hi there Readers!

Since I’m still feeling OK, and there isn’t a Baby No. 2 quite yet, I’ll share what I’ve been wearing throughout April.

It’s been hard to wear the trends I recommended at the start of the month and to be honest, I now can’t wait to wear a few of the bits I’ve been saving for post-baby, so today’s post is more about how I’ve done Maternity wear.

Mostly, I hate the Maternity stuff that’s in the shops and I’ve favoured my regular clothes (with Maternity trousers) or things that have been made for me by my clever Mum.

Shift dresses and jeans with jumpers or shirts have been the uniform of choice. Dresses certainly worked fine for an Easter Sunday Mass and work events that I had this month. I have focused on the shoes though as it’s been a great excuse to get some wear out of the fabulous flats there are around at the moment (a caveat here are the Boden Alice Shoes seen in the picture above bottom left – heels for a few hours are manageable ;) !)

The gorgeous weather has also meant bare legs which has been wonderful. I love the fact that summer is just around the corner. These sandals from M&S tick the gladiator trend box and are really easy to wear. I went for the Beige but they come in a lovely Rust colour too. 

My last day in the office for a while was celebrated by dressing up a bit (despite the fact it was Friday and we usually dress down) in a Next Shift dress (my usual size) from last year and some Office flats (sadly sold out on line but I’m assured more are coming). A nice sunny yellow to start my Maternity Leave with :)

So… not that inspirational I’m afraid but I got through the month nonetheless.

Before I go though I wanted to share a fantastic service that Karen Millen offer and I experienced last week. The reason I know about this is because I had seen some press photos of their Atelier range, and some of their Brave New Stripe dresses leapt out at me.
I then received an email from them with a link to the collection and I decided to book a MyStylist appointment so I could take a peek at some of the pieces. Rachel was amazing. So friendly on email before, and during our session, nothing was too much trouble. She wasn’t even phased when I turned up almost 9 months pregnant!


I tried on a few things (with a bit of imagination!) but I loved the Atelier Brave New Stripes collection (funny that ;) ) especially this Navy and Cream silk dress and coat set. Below are some of my other favourites.

Red Maxi / Yellow Kimono
  Green Maxi

Trousers / Bag / Shoes

Rachel was warm, welcoming and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her. She also even asked me before the appointment what my coffee order was, AND there was breakfast waiting. Amazing service!

Sitting and chatting to Rachel also made me look again at the Karen Millen collection as a whole and it opened my eyes as to how the brand has changed from the “studded and slinky” persona I had earmarked it with from the early 2000s. I’ll definitely be looking in there more now. If you are in the area then don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with her. She comes highly recommended!

So again, I may not be around in May but who knows!? Enjoy the long weekend we have coming up. We’ll be moving back into our house after four months of destruction and change. I. CAN’T. WAIT! :)

Erin xx

PS: The Boden Autumn Preview was also released last week. There are some pretty nice gems to be had ;)

Cast your vote…

I’m sure there’s some unwritten rule of blogging somewhere that says, ‘don’t mention politics.’ Tell the truth, I’m not much of a political animal, feeling sometimes that policies and manifesto’s are so far removed from the day to day realities they are trying to tackle and more recently becoming more and more disillusioned as a frontline member of the NHS. For the first time however, I’m really undecided on how my vote will be cast and I wondered what you were all thinking*.

Front and centre of my thoughts and mind is of course the NHS. The Conservative government has brought the NHS, particularly General Practice, to its knees during this government, and morale hasn’t been lower, nor workloads higher, in decades. However, the economy seems to have been a triumph for the Tories and do I trust labour or The Lib Dems with the NHS either? Personally, I think they all want to dismantle the NHS and Labour and the Lib Dems are just keeping quiet about it. So should I vote for the best for the NHS or take everything into account, even if it’s not great for my personal career situation?

It feels tactical voting this time too. I don’t want to see another coalition. Voting for the ‘wrong’ party might mean UKIP take more seats. On a personal level, I cannot stand Ed Miliband. Should it be about ‘liking’ a possible future PM? I feel like they are all so coached, smooth and trained, that a gut feeling on personality and morals might be the only way to decide.

I’d love to hear a bit of Election chat from you this Monday morning. Perhaps the issues that are most pertinent to you and influencing your vote as the NHS influences mine? Feel free to disclose who you are voting for but it’s not at all required!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*I appreciate this can be a sensitive and personal issue. Please feel free to comment anonymously – just check your browser doesn’t autofill your details when you comment and remember if you have a Gawker picture it’s linked to your email not your name. :)

The Fash Flash: Summer capsule

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my summer wardrobe lately… the dreary March we had followed by the recent gorgeous weather means I’ve managed not to do much in the way of wardrobe updating through spring and feel I now need a whole new summer wardrobe as I’m finally ready to enjoy getting dressed again. I’m still not back to my pre-pregnancy size which is tricky as I can now get my old jeans and trousers on… but the mid section as result is not pretty, which means options for the top half are limited. I really need to put some effort into shaping up, but that’s a whole other post!


Temperley for John Lewis Tile print jumpsuit. // Openwork white blouse, Mango. // Birkenstock Arizona’s // Ash Virgo glitte sneaker // ASOS dress // Linen Tee, Zara // Dipdye jumper, M&S // Denim shorts, New Look.

I’m trying to do the capsule approach again. It definitely has flaws, in that it doesn’t allow for spontaneity, but I think it makes up for that in financial planning, not having to shop (including last minute,) and in a similar way it offers me a feel good factor in that once it’s done, I don’t suddenly stress that I have nothing to wear for a looming event, not have time to address it, and as a consequence go out feeling rubbish. This spring we had a Christening, I had a night out with the girls and a couple of other things, that were a rare chance to dress up that I now feel ready for, but I had nothing to wear. My capsule had become too casual and ‘day-time’ with no ability to dress it up so I’m keeping that in mind this time. I had cheated a bit this spring and bought 4 different stripe tops: a traditional Boden navy/white breton, 2 Gap bretons in yellow/pale grey and a thicker dark grey/cream, and a Jonnie B red breton with an overlying print. I have pretty much worn them in rotation non-stop while the weather wasn’t as warm and now I’m ready to tackle the whole thing.

As always, these posts are inspired by Caroline over on Un-fancy.com – she has a great capsule wardrobe planner that you can use but I have adapted it a little to suit my thought processes and if you are planning a wardrobe reshuffle you might want to use her planner or my list below to help you get started.

Here’s what I have done so far.

1. What have I got already?
This involved opening up my storage wardrobe and facing the nightmare of trying on my pre-pregnancy wardrobe. Some things I fitted and were a pleasant surprise and I’ve dragged out a few bits that are tight but I hope will fit better as the weeks go on, as I’m still slowly losing weight. I’ve salvaged quite a few bottom half bits here: a pair of mint shorts from GAP and some printed white GAP khakis. My old boyfriend jeans fit again too and an old faithful summer shirt has been pulled out along with a couple of workwear items.

I also scrutinised the items I had already, in my existing winter/spring wardrobe, to see what I could keep. This includes shoes.

2. What do I need to plan for?
First and foremost I need to assemble some kind of work wardrobe. My work wardrobe used to be quite interchangeable with my daily wardrobe whereas they have polarised somewhat now. I wouldn’t want to wear much of it at home as it’s not comfortable enough or able to withstand the mess that Bea makes, plus my off-duty style has become a lot more sloppy!

Secondly, I have events coming up. We plan to have Bea Christened and have another Christening and friends baby birthday coming. There will likely be a couple of barbecue’s and evenings or lunches out too so I need to factor in a couple of fancy outfits, although I’m giving myself a free pass for her Christening to buy something nearer the time if I feel the need.

3. How do I want to dress?
This needed to be broken down into 2 parts, work and home.

For work, I am only there 3 days a week and lots of my work clothes are tailored so don’t fit but are really nice and I still like. The goal there has to be to get back into them, and in the meantime I’m bringing together a very small capsule of half a dozen outfits I can make do with.

For home, my overriding need is things that are practical to look after Bea in, but also feel nice in. As I wear Bea in the sling so much I think about if I’ll be able to wrap over them, and as we’re still breastfeeding, I think about access too, although Bea is hardly feeding in the day now. And I think about a few trend led pieces that might appeal to me – usually by flicking back through Erins posts – much quicker than scouring the magazines!

I also have a think about what I like to wear. Last year I LIVED in shorts and imagine I’ll do the same again and think about what I want to wear on top as a result. I also wore a waterfall aztec cardigan all the time over winter and am sad to put it away so I’ll be looking for a replacement for throwing on in summer.

4. What do I need?
Once I’ve decided what I have, and what I want, I think about what I need to fill the gaps. For occasion wear (i.e. anything that isn’t day to day at home!) I’m going to buy a nice dress and a jumpsuit. I need that cardigan and a lighter summer jumper. I’m going to invest in some basics, like a perfect navy tee and some denim shorts. As far as trends go, I’d like to nod to the folk trend with a white folk top. And my shoes need sorting out, new converse, new summer flip flops and possibly some work flats.

Lastly, looking through my wardrobe has meant I’ve been able to identify things for charity and for sale to help fund the new pieces. I always find when I go back to my wardrobe I’m able to be much more ruthless and immediately there are things that stand out that I know I don’t want anymore. I then decide if I could get anything on eBay for them and list them – so far this time I’ve made £75 so far selling old shirts, tops and dresses for £5 here and £10 there, plus a decent sum for an old bag. Its definitely worth doing and every little helps ;)

I’ll be back to share my actual capsule wardrobe in a week hopefully – I’m just waiting for the last bits to arrive. Have you done any summer shopping yet? Can I tempt you with a capsule?!

Love,
Rebecca
xo