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

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:

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

8 months with Bea…

Whoa. Where is the time going? I went back to work days before Bea was 8 months and as I write, we are approaching 9 months. Fast. I want to just hit pause sometimes!

Somewhere around 7 months it seems like we entered a whole new phase with Bea. The one where she never. stays. still. The big news this month was the beginning of crawling… but even before that she was rolling, spinning and wriggling anywhere she wanted to go within one room. We were on the edge of crawling for so long and still I was always convinced she was about to do it, but we weren’t really sure when to say she had. So many developmental things she has done were instant, sudden smiles one day, suddenly sitting on another. Crawling has been much more of a gradual progression from rolling around, to spinning on her belly, all the yoga moves of getting some air and lifting herself up, commando crawling around, then suddenly she used her hands too and was off… she was 34 weeks or just short of 8 months.

It’s been another really rubbish month of sleep too. For the first time, the developmental leap surrounding her learning to crawl wreaked havoc and when she turned over at night she got straight up onto her knees then seemed to wake up disorientated and crying. Only feeding settled her back down. Bea came down with another horrible cold on Mothers day – by far her worst yet, she actually had her first temperature and was thick with snot for the best part of 2 weeks. That meant after 2 nights of sleeping through again after the crawling settled, we were back to being up several times a night. After having moved her out in to the nursery we set up the travel cot in our room again as I couldn’t cope with getting up so many times to the nursery and we fell into co-sleeping habits to allow for soothing feeding back to sleep and a bit more shut eye for me. At the end of month 8 and unfortunately with me now back at work, things were better but not massively and we’re still up 2-3 times a night. :/

Since then, Bea has got a whole lot busier. She is speeding around the room, following me out of the rooms and into other rooms, like a little shadow. She’s interested in everything except the toys you place in front of her, particularly wires, dirty shoes, ornaments and every hazardous item I fail to remove in advance of her roving crawl!

So how are things with you mama’s out there? Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Love,
Rebecca

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

My (old) house garden…

Right now I am totally immersed in garden planning and I’ll be chatting about that soon, but first it occurred to me that I don’t think I ever shared my old garden, before we moved house. The new garden is a pretty decent size and unusually large for where we live. It’s nothing compared to some country dwellers, but for urban Manchester suburbs, its big. (London readers will relate!) The old house was a 3 up, 3 down, typical mid-terrace and had a yard at the back when we moved in. It was 4 metres square but we had patio doors going out onto it from the kitchen and it was South West facing. We had never had our own outdoor space before, so I was determined to make somewhere we could relax.


Image by Lawson Photography

It ended up being a relatively cheap and easy project. When we moved in the ‘yard’ was concreted over entirely and the developer we bought the house from had added a square deck kit over the top, directly out from the kitchen patio doors, which happened to be the shadiest part of the garden.) There were also some decking material planters with cheap bedding plants in them and it couldn’t have looked more hasty, ill considered or ugly. The pictures don’t give a great overall view (they were taken for the Good Homes magazine feature on my old home by Laura and Peter Lawson.) but you can get the gist here that we created a courtyard garden that still had room for growing plants and greenery.

Here is one of my own photos from above showing the layout:


Image by Rebecca @ FlorenceFinds.com

What we did:

  • Paid someone to come and remove the decking and drill up the concrete yard.
  • Marked off an L shaped border at the back left and to the right of the gate for plants, edged with Victorian style terracotta rope edging.
  • Built two steps down from the back door with indian stone slabs and a simple brick layer to create the steps. (I’ve linked to B&Q but check your local builders yard for the best prices on garden hard landscaping.)
  • Laid an Indian stone patio in the sunniest corner of the garden, with stepping stones of indian stone straight out of the back door to the back gate and from the patio to the back gate.


Image by Lawson Photography

  • Laid weed supressing membrane and put golden gravel down over it.
  • Put in a trellis panel to hide the side return where our bins were stored.
  • Planted climbing plants to cover the walls (Left wall – shade loving Clibing hydrangea, Pyracantha for berries and where it got sunnier a Ceanothus for the stunning blue flowers; On the right side we had climbing roses and a Clematis Montana.)
  • Planted the borders and some pots for an overflowing look. These were cheap plants bought mostly in the supermarkets with a couple of David roses too


Image by Lawson Photography

It ended up being a kind of cottage garden meets Mediterranean garden, with the overflowing relaxed style of the cottage garden but with plants that withstood the dry heat microclimate that the walled courtyard created. We had an olive tree by the back door! The pictures here show it about 6 years after completion so it was maturing and the hard landscaping was blending in to look like it had always been there (along with some weeds creeping in, but hey, that’s life!)


Image by Lawson Photography

It really was like my personal oasis and because the walls held the heat we were able to eat out there most dry nights in the summer. I can’t wait to create something equally cosy and inviting but on a grander scale in this house!


Image by Lawson Photography

It seemed timely to talk about Gardens now as everyone is thinking about getting outside… have you got any garden plans this year?

Love,
Rebecca
xo