Gone Fishing…

I hope you’ll excuse the change in schedule today… January has been hectic for me with work and home stuff, and frankly I felt with all the tidying up and sorting out, I just haven’t had time to clear out too. It’s on the agenda but maybe I’ll come back to it in a few weeks.

I’m going to take a couple of days off from the blog to get sorted out and I’ll be back mid way through next week with a proper house tour (more pictures that didn’t go in to the house feature in Good Homes magazine,) a post about the Paleo diet and some spring fashion…

Have a great weekend readers,


#JanuaryJoy: Learn something new…

One of the things about New Year is the opportunity for self-improvement. Some of you in your new years resolutions mentioned learning a new skill and that is what today is all about. It’s something I am particularly bad at because I let busy-ness get in the way, yet there are a ton of things I would like to do.

I’d love to learn to sew so I could save money by making my own curtains!

Italy is on our travel agenda this year and so I’d like to pick up some Italian…

You don’t really ‘learn’ Yoga, but I’d like to get better at it.

I can already take photo’s using the manual settings on my camera, but I’d like to learn more about it and get better.

Ironicly, I’m currently doing a personal development course for work and writing a 2000 word essay on personal development plans. We have to make these every year at work for our appraisal and demonstrate our progress, but we have to make them achievable and measurable. I hate doing it for work, but I can see the benefit of making tangible plans to develop your desired skill. For example, for my goal of learning to sew, I could say I would attend a sewing course and demonstrate it by making my first pair of curtains. :)

So, now it’s your turn. What skill would you like to learn this year – maybe you have already planned one? And how are you going to make it happen?


#JanuaryJoy: Make some resolutions

Happy New Year readers! I am (as usual) full of enthusiasm for a new year, fresh starts and all the exciting things that are bound to happen over the next 12 months. Not least of those is #JanuaryJoy, which after last year’s success seems to be an integral part of the New Year and of course the perfect way to navigate the dark lull after the festivities.

Today we’re kicking off traditionally with some resolutions. I know many of you don’t like to make resolutions, preferring to change over the year, but I like the fresh slate feeling of January and think the more positive changes we make the better, so why not start now?

As well as my own, I have invited my lovely gang of contributors to pitch in with theirs this year – you never know, it might get you thinking!

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This year’s resolution for me is to streamline and simplify my life. To achieve more balance with my work, make the blog less of a burden and generally make more time for me. It would be cheesy to allocate this time to exercise, which is just one thing I haven’t made enough time for this year, but I also want to feed my creativity and look after myself emotionally as well as physically.

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Victoria a.k.a. ‘Girl about Town
I have a quite a deep New Year resolution. Sorry! First, a bit of background: Back in 2012 I promised myself I’d say “No” more, so that I would take more time out for myself and stop doing things that make me sad or unhappy to suit other people. Much like all my resolutions, it was a non-starter. I still did lots of things out of guilt or a false sense of duty or to keep the peace and often ended upset, drained and unhappy. I was being selfless for people that gave me not a second thought, rather than looking after myself and my own heart and feelings. Then in 2013 it all changed. Something happened and I said my first “No” and the metaphorical excrement hit the fan. I weathered the storm (with the help of a few special people) and I’m just now coming out the other side of the emotional mess that I was in. Looking back I know I made the right choice and I’m happier, stronger and better off for it. So, for 2014 I’m going to stop being such a pushover and I’m going to do what I want to do. I did it once and I survived and so I can do it again. That’s my main resolution; say “No!” when I really don’t want to do something and to look after myself in the same way I look try to look after others.

My less emotional, and deep, resolution is to absolutely get my photos sorted. I make this resolution every year and get nowhere. Since having a digital camera I’ve done virtually nothing with them – maybe printed a few, made a few photo books and an Instagram collage (using Inkifi.com) but other than that I have about 600,000 pictures sitting on an external hard drive under my bed and a few thousand on Facebook. In 2014 I’m making albums, photo books and filling all the empty frames I have all over the house (other people do that too, right?)! Let’s check back in on Jan 1st 2015!

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Penny, all round music Guru and author of Bad Penny Says
Last year on New Year’s Eve I was 20 weeks pregnant and was envisioning that by the dawning of 2014 I would be free from baby weight and pushing for a new personal record of fitness. Seems I had all these high falutin’ ideas about how much free time I would have to tricep dip and train for marathons on maternity leave. Not sure what I thought I was going to do with my baby whilst I was doing all this – get him to time my laps? Anyway, this year is going to be different. This year I have one sole fitness resolution – to do one unassisted pull-up. One! Some of you will be able to do this already. But to me, the act of hoiking my body upwards on the pull-up bar that’s been bolted over the spare room door since my now-husband moved in four years ago is my fitness bête noir. I know I ought to be able to do it, but somehow I just can’t. Instead I dangle there like a lump of meat, wondering if my arms will pop out of their sockets. I have always believed that the elusive unassisted pull-up is within my reach….I just need a bit of focus and commitment to get there. That’s why this is the perfect New Year’s resolution- both simple and yet difficult enough to make a difference. It will inspire me to work on the weakest area of my fitness (upper body strength) and on de-chunking other areas without making one of those horrid “I will lose X pounds” negative type statements. So there we go. 2014 is time to keep it simple, realistic, achievable when it comes to fitness. No marathons. Until at least 2015.

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Gemma – Florence’s Editor
Hello! My new year’s resolutions were worked out the night before last with my husband over a pint at one of our favourite central London pubs which was a lovely way to do it!

  1. Take better care of my skin and general health. My skin is my biggest ‘thing’ – it’s an ongoing issue – prone to severe acne and painful blotches and I want it to be the best it can be so that includes eating healthily, investing in good products which I know work for me rather than faffing with cheap and cheerful bits, taking off makeup before bed (on a clean pillowcase!) and cleaning my makeup brushes regularly as well as speaking to my gp about it.
  2. I started my dream job 2 weeks before Christmas and I’m resolving to get the most out of it I possibly can by putting in my all. I know I’m really lucky to have a job I love and I’m mindful of something my dad used to say: ‘work smarter, not harder’. This year, when I’m in the office, I’ll be working smart – doing my best to learn from some of the best people in my field, and pushing myself to fit the most in and get the most out of my 9 to 5.
  3. We bought our first home in May this year and I’m resolving to look after it and keep improving it – including renovating the bathroom which is something we’re constantly moaning about!
  4. We also bought our first dining table (just in time for Christmas dinner!) and I hope that R and I will make time to sit down for dinner together at the table at least once a week with no tv, no phones and no distractions! I also want us to do alphabet dating as seen here on FF.
  5. More writing! My new job is different from my old role, which was heavily based on copy writing. Now that I’m not writing nine to five I hope I’ll fit in more creative writing at home!
  6. Finally, I want to be better at keeping in touch with family and friends in Australia – I’ve been a bit rubbish in 2013 because they’ve all been visiting – in 2014 I want to send more letters and parcels and emails.

Becky – Author of Florence’s Florals and First Time Mum
I try to avoid making resolutions as I have been known to take them too seriously and put too much pressure on myself (ahem!) however, this year my list is endless so here are a few…..

1. Get organised……this covers a multitude of resolutions really…..I’m talking house, wardrobe, paperwork, finances, photographs, and food shop.
2. Spend more time with my husband…..date night style.
3. Get time with family and friends better organised in our diary.
4. Get my bra size re-measured and treat myself to some new underwear. I’ll then burn my nursing bras!
5. Find time to run – even if it’s just once a week.
6. Find time to contribute more to FF.
7. Go to bed earlier (at least one night out of 3)
8. Spend less time ‘thinking’ and more time ‘doing’

Now it’s your turn readers… tell me your resolutions and I might just steal some!


Here comes #JanuaryJoy!

It’s that time again readers! Time to reveal #JanuaryJoy 2014! I’m super excited to get going and make January a lot more joyful than dreary December was!

A little bit of background in case you’re new to January Joy…

The numbers in the image above correspond to dates. As per usual here at FF, there will be no weekend tasks. You don’t have to sign up to do everything and you don’t have to do them in order. Dip in and out as you like.

If you would like to follow along with January Joy feel free to spread the word on your own blog (and use the image above,) or tweet about it using the tag #JanuaryJoy. You can even post it (and hashtag) on Instagram!

So let’s get excited about 2014! See you tomorrow!


Last years January Joy

Christmas Gift Guide #5: The Mini Me’s

Today I’m moving onto the mini-me’s. It can be hard to buy for the little ones and that old cliche about the cardboard box being more interesting than the present really does ring true. I also find that toys veer far too much down the plastic-fantastic route and try my best to steer well clear of those, preferring instead to buy choices I know the parents of any little one will love just as much as the little one themselves, if not more.

Christmas Gift Guide, Kids Gifts, Childrens Gifts, Kiddies, Little Ones, Christmas, Festive, Gifts, Pocketful of Dreams

What do you think readers, do you have little ones to buy for? What are your top tips and finds this year?
Michelle xx

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Finding Inspiration for Interiors…

Last week, Anna left this comment on my post about statement lighting. I had spent that day doing a phone interview with a journalist about my interiors choices for the old house, (more on that soon!) and a lot of her questions got me thinking. When this question also came up it made me think there might be a blog post in that! So here’s Anna’s question…

Hi Rebecca,

Please can I ask you, where do you find your inspiration for interiors? We moved into our house last November. We so far have had a new kitchen and new windows and doors and whilst these aren’t small jobs I’m still struggling with the interiors.

I think from me, I am worried about getting it wrong.. so everything ends up looking really similar and quite neutral and quite boring!

How do you work out whether or not statement pieces were working your rooms? How do you decide on a colour scheme? When you are decorating the new room where do you start?

I really hope your blog explores these questions of the next few months with your new house! I am super excited to see what you do with the new house so I can get some inspiration and also not be afraid to try new things!

Good luck with everything!!

So lets break Anna’s question up into three…

How do you work out whether or not statement pieces were working your rooms?

As a general rule of thumb, I would say that any room can only handle 1 or two ‘statement pieces. That might be a feature light (like these that prompted Anna’s question,) something that is a really bright colour like a yellow armchair, or a large piece of art. A patterned wall paper would also fit this category…

I think to decide if you like something, you have to live with it. For example when I bought the flamingo print, I wasn’t sure – it felt like he was staring at me all the time! But after a day or two, I got used to it and loved it. With my film lamp, that was easier as I knew I wanted one for a while, and when I found it at a great price, I knew just the corner where it would go. If you’re nervous about splashing out and not liking it, just make sure you love the piece itself, if you do then you’ll make it work, even if it’s not where you imagined it originally.

How do you decide on a colour scheme?

Let’s take my old lounge as an example here… First off we painted the room grey and kept all our neutral sofas and dark wood furniture. When I realised the room needed an injection of colour, I found Eric (the flamingo) and the pink worked so well against the grey that I ran with it. There was already blue in the room (the blinds were edged with a blue/brown shot silk and the club chair was a similar blue/brown fabric) so I chose that as another accent colour. I wanted lots of brights, so with the addition of the little yellow bird and the Russian dolls, yellow became the third ‘colour’.

Ideally what you want to be looking for when you are accessorising are things that aren’t just block colours either, (unless you’re going for a very modern look perhaps.) For example, the flamingo has shades of red in the pink feathers and the yellow Russian dolls pick that up in their painted detail, tying the two together.

I also noticed once I had completed that side of the room, centring around the flamingo print that the room became a room of two halves. The other side with the sofa was very similar to how it used to be with no colour splashes and didn’t look right. So I switched the cushions for a selection of blue toned designs and then stumbled across the pink lampshade that finished this DIY and finally we were done!

When you are decorating the new room where do you start?
The easy answer would be anywhere, but the sensible item would be the big ticket items. For example, if you have a blue sofa you could use that as a starting point. In general, for the sake of longevity, people choose neutral large pieces so they can decorate around them a few times before they have to start again with new ones, but if you know you love a colour then I’d say go for it and don’t be afraid to extend what we consider neutrals to be. Neutral doesn’t have to be boring beige, widen the spectrum with greys, taupes, mocha, putty or stretch outside the traditional neutrals to charcoal, navy or khaki.

I have a neutral sofa, so I start decorating with other ideas. Eric started the lounge decor, our dining room was inspired by the smoky blue edged mirror and the blue/grey accents came from there, including the curtains and the smoked blue light fitting.

You could also start with something you already have of course and it might be something really small – a kitchen might be inspired by the pattern on a favourite mug, or a lounge by a fab print you like for the curtains. Just go back to the advice about about finding a colour palette and accent colours and you will pull it all together.

Lastly, don’t fight your natural style. Anna mentions everything being ‘quite neutral’ as though it’s a bad thing when that can be just as much of a style as my own love of colour. However given the fact you follows it with ‘and quite boring’, I guess you want to jazz it up Anna!

I hope that helps Anna and I’d love to hear if any of you agree or disagree with my advice or if any of you have anything to add…


A simple Gold lamp DIY

Gold lamp diy

Recently I’ve been thinking much more about repurposing old things as I often find myself in a trap with home accessories, not wanting to waste or throw away things, but wanted to change up the look. This make-over was so simple it hardly merits the title of a DIY, but the transformation for so effective I thought it was worth sharing to make you think if you could do something similar with something of yours.

Do you remember the lamp before?

When we had more of an industrial salvage vibe going on with our decor this black wire lamp was perfect and the shade was neutral enough, although I never really loved it. Afetr the addition of much more colour, both the base and shade looked out of place and Pete and I had been on the look out for a whole new lamp. Most of those we looked were quite an investment and we never actually splurged the cash. one day we stumbled across this hot pink lamp shade reduced to £15 in Heals.

It suddenly occurred to me that the base would look great in gold, which I’m totally obsessed with as an interiors accent right now. One can of gold spray paint later and a new shade, and the whole lamp was transformed.

So readers, tell me, have you repurposed or made over anything recently, or have I given you any ideas? My next project is a kitchen dresser where I’ll be using the techniques I learned on this Ruby Rhino painting workshop.


We are Family…

… and I got all my sisters with me.

Well, my (one) sister.

Yesterday, my little sister Francesca moved in with Pete and I. She was a student in Birmingham and after graduation worked there too, but when all her friends decided to start moving for their jobs or to be closer to family, she decided she wanted to do the same and chose Manchester. Of course I’m a little biased, but I reckon she made a great choice ;) Her plan is to buy a house but the market here is competitive and to really stand a chance, she needs to be here and available for viewings. Rather than get locked into a rental contract, we suggested she live here with us for a while and save some money while she scouts about for the right property.

I say ‘we’ and thankfully it wasn’t a decision I had to work hard to get Pete on board with. Pete and Francesca are thankfully close, after all he has been in her life for 12 years now (since she was 14!) but still, after I suggested she move in with us, I realised I should probably have consulted him first. When I confessed to having asked her already, he laughed and said he had already asked her too!

It has been 13 years since I last lived with Francesca, in fact I didn’t ever see us living together again. In that time, our relationship has changed immeasurably. Instead of a university age young adult older sister and barely teenage younger sister, we are now both independent working adults. The huge gap between us that always existed due to age has closed and we have so much more in common. Now she is not just my sister, but my friend.

Still, I’m apprehensive about the move. Our house is small, (sometimes it feels too small for Pete and I to co-exist in together!) but for three of us it will be a real squeeze. Diplomacy and consideration are going to be key and I forsee a few deep breaths being required – Here’s hoping my added years have brought patience with them! I’m excited though, to add another girl to my gang of friends that I’m so lucky to have around me. And I’m happy to that I can be there for Francesca as she makes such a big step, moving to a new city, starting a new job. I know I’m lucky to get the chance to be so close to her again. I can exercise the role of sister and hopefully ease the transition as she settles in and builds a new life here.

I’d love to know if any of you have lived with a sibling since you left home. Have any of you got any tips about living with family as an adult? Maybe you moved back in with your parents after Uni? Or do you wish you lived closer to your family?


It’s all Gravy…

The last couple of weeks have seen something really exciting but also pretty stressful happening in the Norris household. I’ll share more when I can but while it has all been going on I’ve found my anxiety levels rising about things that are really beyond my control. Things that I just don’t need to worry about.

Image via my Pinterest board of inspiring quotes

When things are going well in my life, I have a tendency towards thinking about the things that could happen to balance out the luck. Potential disasters and tragedies. If everything is going right, when will it all go wrong? It’s a waste of energy of course and could be a negative thought spiral but over the years I’ve learned to just put it to the back of my mind.

On Sunday morning when we were driving back from a night in Glasgow, we were listening to Richard Madeley on R2 interviewing Kat Edmonson. He asked her how heartbreaking it was waiting to be ‘discovered’, and waiting tables in the meantime. Her reply was typically tactful as required of an aspiring superstar but appeared genuine, saying that simply being given her talent was what made her happy and that whilst she could get a little down if her aspirations weren’t being fulfilled, all the rest was gravy. The recognition, the success and the money I suppose. The magical sauce that made everything else she already had on her plate even better.

That and hearing about some people who have been less fortunate recently (with health related problems that life threw at them,) made me think. Really, all the things I now aspire towards are just gravy. Whilst they are important and I’ll always be a goal orientated person, striving to make life that bit better, in many ways it can’t get better. Strip it back and I have a supportive loving husband, amazing friends, a close family, lovely house and job that I love doing. I’m sure many of you could go through that list and tick off most if not all of them too. How often do we count all our blessings and remember how lucky we are? Instead of striving forwards (or worrying about the future,) be grateful for the present. And remember that all the rest is just gravy.

What do you think readers? I hope I have inspired you to count your blessings today :)


Friday Frock O’clock

It’s a special edition Friday Frock today ladies as French Connection have 20% off until tomorrow evening!

Geo Daisy Dress, £195 // Mid Summer Breeze Dress // Aloha Spring Strappy Dress, £220

Lacey Lou Striped Dress, £67 // Eugene Halterneck Dress, £165 // Mini Eddie Dress, £67

So I thought, why choose just one frock when there are so many pretty ones? I’m all about the blues and the pinks right now so these are a selection of my favourites, for every occasion from the beach to a summer ball.

Which one is your favourite? (If you find something in French Connection that you want to get 20% off, then just use the code STYLE20 at checkout and be sure to leave a link so we can see!)

Happy long weekend readers – what are you all getting up to?