I can’t wait to share the Nursery we made for Bea with you very soon! (I just need a napping baby to complete to post)
Good morning readers!
I’ve left some of the prompts for this years #JanuaryJoy deliberately vague to allow as many people to join in as possible and whilst this particular prompt could encompass many things, for me it will be a house project. We’ve got quite a few things planned this year, big and small, from whole rooms to finishing touches. I’m keeping it small for now as I want to enjoy the remainder of my maternity leave dust and stress free, so I thought I’d share a couple of the projects I have in mind for this month.
A Nursery wardrobe.
When we planned the nursery (which I will share soon, I promise!) I was convinced I was having a boy and didn’t give any thought to wardrobe space. We have a huge chest of drawers in there but since having a girl I’ve realised I need hanging space for dresses. The best place for the storage is in an alcove to the side of the chimney breast but it’s proving difficult to find a pice of furniture as it’s an oddly sized 66cms wide, so I’m having to think outside the box. I love the idea of being able to see Bea’s tiny clothes and so I thought some kind of open storage might work and hopefully won’t look too untidy as she doesn’t have that many clothes and I can still keep the majority folded in the drawers. Or do I do some kind of IKEA hack with something like this?
When we built our deck outside the kitchen last year we added some raised beds made of sleepers, half the height of the deck. They’re pretty big and the idea is to plant them with tall perennials that will surround the deck with foliage so it doesn’t seem separate from the garden. So the first job is to order some topsoil to fill them as they have stood empty since we built them, and secondly to plant them up with appropriate plants. I’m going for delicate drifting styles, in shade loving plants for one of the boxes on the north facing side and pretty flowers for the other west facing side which gets lots of sun.
Our bathroom is perfectly adequate and not on the agenda for change for quite some time… if we did change it, it would be part of quite a major reconfiguration of the first floor so we need to give that serious thought. In the meantime, I think I can make it a lot more us, with some simple additions. A new mirror, new light fittings, a bit of paint and some new hooks should make a big difference and it’ll be fun to change a room without all hell breaking loose in the house for a change.
So what projects are you planning this January readers? (It doesn’t have to be house related!)
I often want to write about something that I really love but since blogging less I lean towards the meatier posts. I thought it would be fun to share the things I have consistently loved throughout the year – that stand the test of time and I use and go back to again and again. Here’s my list, have you got any stand out items from 2014?
Boots Sanctuary Spa long lasting hand lotion £5.50
I mentioned this hand cream when I did a review of several Sanctuary products a while back. It was an immediate standout and has continued to be so pleasing that I have replaced my own and bought it as gifts for other people. It restores my dry hands even after all the hand washing associated with looking after a small baby and after all the diy my hands have been involved in this year.
Burts Bee’s Mama Bee Nourishing body oil £10.99 but currently on offer ⅓ off! (and Baby Bee range.)
I never particularly liked Bio oil and whilst I didn’t always apply oil to my bump to prevent stretch marks (Bad news folks, if you’re going to get them, nothing will stop you, it’s a skin-type thing;) I did use it religiously after giving birth. This mama bee oil smells amazing (citrusy) and made me feel as though I was improving the elasticity of my skin and I still use it all over now. We also use the Baby Bee products at Bea’s bath time and she smells delicious as a result.
Lush Ultrabland £7.25 for a small pot.
I started using this as a cheap alternative to Eve Lom in March this year and haven’t gone back. My skin has never been better and whilst that may be partly due to pregnancy, 5 months later it’s still great. I’m a huge advocate of oil based cleansers balancing problem skin and I think for the price anyone with troublesome skin should try it. Massage into dry skin (I use it to take my makeup off in one step too as I’m rather lazy like that…) then remove with a toner soaked cotton pad or two.
I never thought I’d write about a mop being one of my favourite things of the year, but this one has saved my sanity. Whilst having 2 walls knocked through, one door moved and 3 sets of new windows, you can imagine the almost constant dust for the last 12 months. In our hallway particularly the dust settled on wood floors and when we mopped (after brushing and hoovering,) it just pushed the dust around and created dull still-dirty floors. Then I found this triangular mop with a velcro-on microfibre head (replaceable) which you dampen in your floor cleaner then attach and use. I can get round the kitchen and hallway without needing to rinse it under normal conditions and it removes all the dirt or dust. I love microfibre cloths. Don’t get me started on using them for cleaning! (I couldn’t find the exact mop but this one is very similar.)
I’m an Instagram addict, sharing behind the scenes goings on while we renovate and try to enjoy normal life too. It’s also the place where I most enjoy engaging with my readers. If you want to follow me I’m here, do say hi!
Following on from Instagram I also love the images it produces – often pictures of Bea I’ve snapped when my proper camera isn’t to hand. A lot of the Instagram printing companies are American but this one is British, well priced, ecofriendly and quick to deliver. I’ve used them twice for pictures of Bea to put in thank you and Christmas cards and will definitely be going back for more. They even have an app to order directly from your phone.
The local library.
Since Bea’s arrival was approaching I’ve started to use our local library more and more. There are so many parenting books out there that it could cost a lot to buy them and often be a waste as one mothers favourite recommendation is a red rag to another mother bull. Instead I loan them from the library and decide what would be helpful to buy and keep – I’ve done this with pregnancy books, baby books, sleep books and now am doing the same with weaning books and I reserve them all online first so there are no wasted trips. Support your local library!
The last revelation of my year, just before Christmas I had my nails done (first time since Bea was born!) and knowing they wouldn’t make it to Christmas with all the DIY we had left to do and food prep, I opted for a gel manicure. 11 days later they are absolutely pristine, despite me picking screws up off a bare dusty floor, painting, peeling veg and having my hands in dish or bathwater constantly. I would highly recommend them to any mum or just those who can’t make a manicure last. I go to Nailista in Manchester for mine.
Have you got any great finds for 2014?
Good morning readers!
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!)
Kurt Geiger: Sutter UGG boots £169 (from £240) plus lots of party shoes!
The Whistles sale started this morning.
There’s 35% off on Christmas finishing touches at Cox & Cox.
The Mama’s and Papa’s sale is on too.
Happy shopping. Have you finished all of yours yet?
Image from the Free People blog
Pretty free Christmas downloads for your table by Kelli Murray on the Free People Blog.
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!
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!
Happy weekend readers!
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…
Since having a little one I’ve been slowly getting to grips with getting around with a baby and all the stuff they require. Because we live somewhere so handy for those with children, the few weeks I spent not driving weren’t a hardship at all and I pushed the pram out often when we went on walks or for coffee or visiting local friends. When we drove I had Pete acting as Jeeves, which included getting the
bags buggy. However, when by myself I quickly realised that lugging a pram around can be a royal pain in the behind and often opt to use our baby carrier. (This isn’t strictly news to me – I anticipated I would feel the same about being hands free and more mobile as I’m quite a ‘busy’ person.) Quite a few of you have asked so I thought I’d share my thoughts and ask your opinions on baby wearing too.
For this of you who haven’t heard of it, baby wearing is simply the practice of carrying your baby or child in a fabric or specially made sling or baby carrier. They range from technical contraptions to simple stretchy wraps and costs vary hugely. It’s a centuries old practice and women around the world wear their babies, with well known and accepted benefits to both baby and the adult carrying them. In short, babies are happier and cry less. Parents are more confident as a result and less frazzled as they can get on with their daily lives. Sold? I was.
We opted for the Ergobaby 360 – a new carrier on the market by Ergobaby and had to wait for it to come out. It’s not cheap – £139.95 at John Lewis and we had to buy the infant insert to make it suitable from birth too, for an additional £20. However we justified it with the knowledge this allowed us to carry Bea (and any future babies) right through to toddler and beyond as it allows baby to be carried facing inwards or outwards on the front, on the hip or later on on your back. We chose it over a BabyBjorn as it is supposed to be better for hip development by seating baby in an ergonomic frog leg position.
Once I started using it I loved the freedom, just like I expected. On my first excursion out of Chorlton on my own I took Bea in the Ergobaby on the tram (super easy not having to find space for the pram) to the sling library in Sale (most places have local sling libraries where you can try and rent out slings before buying your own and meet other mums too,) and back. The best thing about it is how convenient it is and that she sleeps in it much of the time she’s in there (much like a car seat,) due to the movement and her being all snug and cozy next to me. We have only used it front facing inwards as thats the only position suitable for her age right now, but it feels secure, brilliantly made and even at this stage is flexible to allow for her position and size.
The major downside for me is the weight of the actual Ergobaby itself – I do get backache wearing it, though I’m not sure if that is due to my ligaments still being stretchy post pregnancy. The Ergobaby has a waist strap and shoulder straps much like a large rucksack you would use for hiking or D of E in school and so the weight is well distributed and it’s comfortable otherwise. I don’t see this as a major negative as we bought it mainly for Pete to wear and for us to use when going places where it wasn’t convenient to take the buggy, and it’s perfect for that as well as the future hopefully.
The other negative I felt was it’s bulk and as Bea woke up out of her newborn haze, she started to get less keen on being put down unless she was in just the perfect stage of deep sleep. One thing that kept her happy of course was being held and I started to get frustrated that I couldn’t get anything done, particularly when Pete went back to work and I had to get on with normal life. I decided to look into a wrap style (this site was a really useful resource in finding more about the different types, as was the site of my local sling library,) to keep her close and happy whilst being light and cheaper, given our initial Ergobaby outlay.
After looking into the various wraps I chose a Victoria Slinglady, (very similar to Moby or Karime wraps), mainly because it’s brilliantly priced (£14.95 on eBay). Baby carrying is very individual and there are loads of different wraps out there but this was perfect for me and I have used it loads since. I did look into DIYing a stretchy wrap (there are lots of tutorials online) but the cost of the jersey was more than this ready made one and as the sling library helpers pointed out, this way I know the fabric dyes are safe if she starts chewing them. Since then we have been out for dinner using it and this post was written with her in it too. I love having my hands back and having her so close!
So, have you got a baby carrier. Do you use it? Or has it always seemed a bit hippyish for you to try? I’d love to hear your thoughts on baby wearing and reviews of the various options and types available…
*This post is the beginning of a new series to encourage discussion and promote the sharing of opinion on a wide variety of motherhood subjects. Please share your thoughts and knowledge in the comments!
Today the very lovely and stylish Michelle from Pocketful of Dreams is taking over the blog with her review of Wilderness Festival. If you happen to be a festival aficionado or just like to see how other people get their groove on, then you’re in the right place as this particular one looks EPIC…
I seem to be the only 30-something in the land never to have attended a music festival. Madness I know, particularly given the fact that I plan events for a living. But all that has now changed and last weekend I popped my festival cherry with the one dubbed ‘Poshstock’ otherwise known as Wilderness Festival.
Held in a tranquil lakeside setting in the Oxfordshire countryside, this festival, I imagine, is the antithesis to all other festivals. Magnificent curiosities abound and you would never find yourself short of something to do at Wilderness, from the sumptuous wood-fired hot tubs lining a lake filled with brave swimmers, to the gourmet banquets and food trucks galore and the plethora of workshops, talks, activities and live music taking place across the weekend. It’s a culture-seekers delight, a little too try hard at times, but a lot of fun nonetheless.
My attendance at the festival was a totally last minute affair, I was gifted the tickets just last Monday by clients of mine as a thank-you for planning their own festival wedding, and by Thursday we had packed up the car and headed South. This spontaneous adventure meant we were attending with a totally open-mind and lack of preconception about what was in store. It also meant we’d well and truly missed the boat when it came to trying any of the fantastic activities in offer, everything from the yoga sessions, to the hot tubs to the gourmet banquets was fully booked and despite asking at the elusive ‘info tent’ on arrival the only way we could get in was to keep calling back 10-minutes after each thing was due to start to see if there’d been any no shows, needless to say we opted out of that kind of to-ing and fro-ing.
It was slightly disappointing to not be able to try these things out and I think we’d have had a very different and more rounded experience had we been able to sample a little more, but we still had a great time and saw a lot. Here’s some of my highlights and observations about the festival for those thinking of going next year…..
WILD SWIMMING & WOOD FIRED HOT TUBS
Perhaps something everyone should try at least once in their lifetime is wild swimming, the lake was pretty much always full of swimmers in the daytime, with many taking their pew along the lakeside to catch some rays (whilst the sun was out that is). It was reminiscent of childhood summer holidays in the alps and you couldn’t help but to feel adventurous and carefree even if not partaking in the swimming yourself.
Although we didn’t manage to enjoy the hot tubs at Wilderness we have seen these in action having booked the very same ones for our clients festival wedding earlier in August. By Bathing under the Sky, these beauties are divine and pure luxury, the staff are superbly attentive and really what better way to spoil yourself than in a hot tub in a beautiful forest, champers in hand?
FOOD AND DRINK
Wilderness is without a doubt a foodies delight and we were spoilt for choice when it came down to dining. From the breakfast trucks in the camping area we enjoyed toast, bacon rolls, tea and freshly brewed coffee. For a slightly more relaxing breakfast we headed to the Sanctuary to a lovely little pop-up restaurant (name eludes me) with red and white checked tablecloths enjoying Huevas Rancheros and a chilled coconut water, delish.
There was such a vast selection of food trucks serving a multitude of foods: burgers, hot dogs, pulled pork, curry, smoothies, ice-cream, fish and chips, paella, duck, lobster rolls, tacos, you name it you probably could have found it. For lunch I opted for a freedom Gyoza box from Rainbo which included a chicken and miso Gyoza with fresh slaw and edamame beans…..delicious, healthy and colourful. We also tried the wood-fired pizzas from Pizza Tabun which were so delicious we ended up back there again the next day. The food at Moro looked delicious too.
Drinks-wise there were a few bars onsite serving the standard spirit and mixer, priced around £5, we sampled a glass or two of the wine also but soon gave up as it was revolting AND warm. We were also a little disappointed by HIX as it looked fantastic and I’d heard great things, they had a cute outdoor chill-out section under a canopy with vintage furniture that looked so inviting, so we thought we’d enjoy a bottle of champagne and watch the afternoon unfold in front of us from the comfort of their lounge. Unfortunately though they didn’t offer ice buckets or any facility to chill it for us once purchased so we gave up and headed back to the Laurent Perrier Champagne Orangery for the second time since we’d arrived. This place was a little slice of refinement in the otherwise madness of the festival. I enjoy getting down and dirty at an event but sometimes you just want a cold drink and a comfortable seat.
Another favourite was the Zubrowka Bison grass vodka pop-up, a welcome respite from the rain on Friday evening with delicious cocktails, plus some pretty cool styling. Moro provided us with delicious white vermouth cocktails, refreshing and zingy.
I could have sat for hours people-watching, everyone made such an effort with their outfits, even the kids with their face paints and funny tails. The festival themed each day with Altered States Friday, Disco Renaissance Saturday and the Cosmos on Sunday. And so ensued an explosion of glitter, sequins, spandex and feathers, with a few masks thrown in for good measure. Personally with little time to prepare it was a case of whatever we could get our hands on so I dug deep into my closet and picked out a few outfits, diy-ing a disco cape from some party decor I had knocking about my studio and buying a glittery cat mask online. Although we could have just turned up and headed to the various vintage and dressing up emporiums (so many) and found some outlandish outfits to wear.
I had a wander round a few and ogled the shiny delights on offer: Secret Emporium was like a party within the party and where I had my face painted by In Your Dreams, Rosa Bloom had some divine feathery and sequinned capes, Violets Box had a fab selection of outfits too.
It was clear this festival was a fashionista’s paradise and we saw so many fashion bloggers and fashion media strutting their stuff with plenty of street-style photographers snapping the action too. My only advice when it comes to dressing is to take lots of layers and flat shoes only, I ended up wearing mainly cut-off denim shorts with bodies and a variety of cover-ups, my anorak quite a lot as the rain was so sporadic and my hunter wellies.
As a wedding and event planner I am always looking at how brands style and market themselves at events so for me it was like an being in an aladdin’s cave of inspiration. Colourful bunting as far as the eye could see and cute little styled spaces to interact with.
Some of my favourites included the Mulberry craft tent (annoyingly booked up all weekend so I didn’t actually get inside) and the Accessorize tent which had a cool wishing tree with colour-dipped feathers. I also saw lots of fashionable ladies walking around the site with their gold Mulberry balloons and branded picnic hampers, only to find out later that Cara Delevingne had been there to host a private picnic – my invite had clearly got lost in the post.
And as mentioned above the Zubrowka space with its forest-inspired teepee and 3-D paper art installation hanging from the ceiling was definitely one of my favourites and the most thought through design-wise, it looked like a mystical magical space that had literally grown amongst the woodland.
The Laurent-Perrier tent also looked beautiful with a gorgeous string installation over the bar – but I had already spied this on pictures from a previous year so was surprised they’d not done something fresh.
Oh how I’d love to design one of these spaces one day….brands take note.
The music side of things, I felt, was quite average, and this comes from someone with hardly a passing interest in current music. It did seem that this element really took a back seat to everything else going on and I rarely saw the stages fill up with the kind of crowds we’ve all seen at the likes of Glastonbury et al. We watched a couple of sets on the main stage but couldn’t even tell you who.
For us the highlights were the late night revelry acts in Pandemonium, an amphitheatre in the valley which came alive at night. We had such a blast dancing our masked faces off to Horse Meat Disco, Greg Wilson and Futureboogie, the sound and lighting was immense topped off by a theatrical acrobatic performance by The Box. The Styx stage was another cool highlight, held on a carousel, as was the burning of the effigy which we watched from Pandemonium. Finally the hidden gem we found was the Artful Badger tent, a tiny space with fabulous music.
And now for the more practical elements which is where I feel Wilderness fell a little short of the mark and I guess this is the events organiser in me that has little tolerance for poor organisation.
With your ticket you also get access to general camping which allows you to pitch a tent in the main campsite. It has a few different sections including a Quiet Camp for those who actually want to sleep, a Family camp for those with kiddies and the free-for-all general area. There are food trucks close-by this area, plenty of toilets, showers etc and also the big green lockers should you wish to keep things secure (which are actually tiny and just fit your phone and wallet in them ), but definitely worth paying £25 for a weekend pass as you can also charge your phone in them.
This is where my experience was marred slightly with an unfortunate incident occurring on the Friday morning when we were abruptly awoken by a team of security guards telling us to move our tent as we’d pitched in a fire lane, along with about 100 other tents. Annoyingly when we’d arrived Thursday evening, after our 5-hour drive it was pretty dark, there were no maps and limited signage to direct you where to go. The campsites seemed pretty full and and were spilling out into the area we ended up camping in. We checked with the stewards and security manning these areas and we’re told it was fine to camp there so felt pretty irate when told we had to move the next day, particularly as the campsites were full to bursting by this point. Several hours later we’d managed to pack up, repitch the tent and unpack again but it left a pretty sour taste in the mouth. We actually ended up in the Quiet Camp which was anything but, the stewards tried to keep noise levels to a minimum but failed miserably resulting in quite a few sleepless nights.
Overall the camping facilities seemed to be badly organised and we heard many people complaining about it over the weekend, it seemed they had not anticipated the capacity with some reporting 30,000 people this year compared to 15,000 last year. If I attend again then I’ll definitely be glamping or staying offsite.
TOILETS AND SHOWER FACILITIES
This was the part I was dreading the most but I needn’t have been concerned, there was an abundance of toilet areas both in the main arena and across the campsite and I never once had to use my own loo-roll as they never ran out. The queues were pretty much non-existent apart from key points in the day, mainly mornings and early evening as everyone started to get a little inebriated but even then I never queued for longer than 5 minutes.
The showers were clean and HOT, but annoyingly were only working one out of the four times we tried to use them on both the Friday and Saturday. I imagine we were probably cleaner than most festival goers having showered and washed whilst there, but still, if you promise hot showers at least make sure they are working!!
MAPS AND SIGNAGE
Again another element that needs improving, finding your way around is difficult and no-one knows what’s going on when you ask them. You don’t get any kind of map when you arrive and have to pay £8 for a programme containing one which then doesn’t tell you the various food trucks on offer so for me was a waste of time.
It would have been much better with large maps dotted around the site or at least having something online that you can print yourself and /or work things out before you get there.
Despite all the above it was an incredible first festival experience and even though I was terribly sleep-deprived and had to pack up our tent in the midst of a hurricane I look back now with only fond memories of my experience. Roll on next year, who’s with me?
You can find Michelle at www.pocketfulofdreams.co.uk, an experienced events organiser planning individual and spectacular weddings and parties for clients across the UK and Europe.
Today’s guest post has been sent in by Lynsey and looks like the perfect summer dish for light eating or special enough for entertaining – I reckon these could even go on the BBQ. Thanks Lynsey and if you have anything you would like to contribute to help me while I am on maternity leave, click here to find out how you can get involved (scroll to the end of the post.)
Monkfish and Chorizo Skewers:
200 g chorizo sausage
2 red peppers
1 tsp paprika
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped finely
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to season
8 wooden skewers
200g plain cous cous
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 handfuls of fresh parsley, chopped finely
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 handful of fresh mint, chopped finely
1 small red onion, chopped roughly
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to season
While the fish is marinading, you can get started on the salad. Cook the cous cous according to packet instructions (usually equal parts boiling water to equal parts cous cous, cover and leave for 3-5 minutes), fluff up with a fork and stir through the olive oil. Place all the chopped vegetables and herbs in a large bowl, add the cous cous, season and mix together well. Serve alongside the skewers and enjoy!
Beatrice Evelyn Norris arrived yesterday at 11.14am and weighed 6lbs 5oz!
She is super cute, feeding like a pro and we are all totally blissed out. And I’m doing fine post c-section.
We will be spending some time as a family this week but look out for some sporadic posts from next Monday and an update if you’re lucky. Oh and keep an eye on my Instagram for lots of updates!
Rebecca, Pete & Bea