What to Buy: January 2016

Well HELLO Readers and a Happy New Year to you all :)

As Rebecca announced earlier this week, she is back blogging and I’m happy to say that that means I’ll be resuming too. I’ll be writing the usual two posts every month, but I may also dip in here and there with some anecdotal pieces.

2015 went by in a flurry of renovations and baby arrivals, so I’m hoping that the 2016 pace slows a little to let us breathe and enjoy. The start of the New Year invariably heralds “resolutions” and whilst I like the idea of starting afresh, I’m loathed to call them resolutions, as they are more than often broken before the month is out. Like Rebecca, I’ve given myself some “goals” which I’d like to try and live by for the year (and beyond), by and large, plus five seem achievable. Here they are:

   
So I know you are thinking, what has this got to do with “What to Buy”. The second of the goals is key for me. I’ve (and actually we’ve) just got too much stuff. I’m in the process of a real edit of my clothes and I’ve started to read this (fulfilling another goal!) which just cements my feelings (after having first read this too and resonated with most of it – Rebecca and I are obviously on the same wavelength here ;) ).

Whilst though I am purging a lot, mostly through eBay and then Charity Donations and local Facebook groups, I’m not saying I won’t buy a thing throughout the year. That to me is unachievable. I can however be clever in my purchases, hopefully favouring things that will last, or at least go with 50% of my wardrobe, therefore making them hard workers. There will also be some seasonal additions I’m sure. I’ll be looking carefully at my current clothing stash before purchasing anything to see if something I already own does the job of filling a fashion need. As I go through this edit, I’ll let you know how I’m getting on, and my approach to how I’ve found/done it, if that’s of interest… Ultimately, I’m hoping the clean out will just make like that little bit easier – it’s certainly got a LOT busier with two small men in my life!

On to January purchases then… These are some things which I’ve seen on emails and some in store that I think will work hard for you all year, starting now.

Fur Gilet

   

H&M // New Look

These are showing no let up, and with the milder winter we seem to be having, they are a great addition to your wardrobe to throw over a jumper and some jeans to give it that extra edge.

Roll Neck Jumper

 

Uniqlo // La Redoute // H&M 

I’ve learnt to love these over the past couple of months. I favour a turtleneck kind of style, or if it is a roll neck, it needs to be in Merino or some such other fine wool to keep the bulk to a minimum. They are a wardrobe saviour IMO – again, something to slip over skinny jeans or leggings with boots or pumps. Go for a size larger than you’d usually wear to balance out the slim silhouette on your lower half.

Chelsea Boots

 
Ash // H&M // ASOS 

Actually a boot style that I don’t own, Chelsea boots automatically make a casual outfit look smarter. The right pair can also work well with dresses and skirts too. Just make sure that the sole has a thin profile.

Cross Body Bag

 

French Connection // Cambridge Satchel Co. // Topshop // M&S

This style has come into its own for me in the 7 months since Oscar was born. Wearing him in the sling, or at least pushing him in the buggy whilst trying to hold Calum’s hand, called for a new bag solution. From the small and neat, to the larger, yet practical, you won’t be sorry for making this purchase. Having your hands free is a revaltion!

Long Sleeved Dress

   

ME&EM // Topshop

Something that can be worn now, with a jumper or waistcoat and boots, or into the spring with sandals, pumps or wedges, the long sleeved dress is something of a wardrobe updater. Keep the style either maxi, or a midi-length that works for your height to avoid frumpiness, but don’t be afraid to play with patterns. Block colour is obviously the classic choice though to make sure you get the most wear out it it.

So there you have it… five things to seek out if you can brave the shops and you have some Gift Cards perhaps burning a hole after Christmas. I’ll keep you posted with my Edit progress. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. In my head, I’ll be done by the end of 2016, but that does include the rest of the house too, not just my wardrobe. I’ll also let you know how I’m getting on with the rest throughout the year too.

It’s nice to be back! Until the end of the month…

Erin xx

 

 

 

January Joy: Make some Resolutions!

Hi again! Its so lovely to hear from you all again – thank you so much for the comments, I’m glad to be back. It would appear I’m not more timely than I was tho ;)

So as promised… my resolutions. I know some people dont like resolutions but I’m a goal setter and I just can’t resist January as a fresh start for getting some plans, aspirations and must-try harder goals on paper. I thought about not bothering but realised how negative it felt and although it’s seen as cliche, I can be found making resolutions most weeks of the year so the first is no exception ;)

Here they are. Resolutions, the 2016 edition.
1. Clear out and declutter corners
2. Finish the house
3. Eat better
4. Learn to Knit

I actually started my first one before Christmas with our Cellar. I was brought up purging (my mum is pretty good at it with clothes and as a child we were always made to go through the toy cupboard and get rid of some things before Christmas, which were taken to the local Childrens home.) Unfortunately I’m now busy, lazy and married to a man who hoards. The dangers of having a big house are that you fill it and our lives have exploded from a 3 bed terrace to 3 sprawling floors of space that is rapidly getting filled. The thought of having to pack it up if we moved terrifies me and I’m a BIG believer that if you are putting something into a room to keep it out of the way where it doesnt get looked at year to year, it shouldn’t be in your life. So I’m trying to use my resolutions to action that thought. Clearing out the cellar (4 car loads to the tip later and we are half way there I think!) was an amazing feeling and I want to keep going. To keep it achievable I’m tackling little corners and spots of clutter at a time, rather than unachieveable whole rooms and after reading this A year of tidying I’m thinking I’ll buy the KonMari book – Has anyone read it?

The second resolution is stolen from Pete. We still have several rooms to tackle and others that have been 80% completed but lack finishing touches. We also have an exciting project under investigation which I’ll share if it is actually going to happen. Either way there are lots more home posts to come from FF in 2016!

New Year, new house project…. Fireplace shopping today! #renovation #interiors #periodhouse #fireplace

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

The last two are certainly the stuff of yearly resolutions. Delving a bit deeper though I want to expand my weekly standard recipe repertoire and find some less stodgy but satisfying and delicious winter options. We eat a lot with Bea and I obviously want her to eat well and try lots of things so that needs to be woven into he plan too. I’ve already branch out and bought Good Food magazine which Pete tried a Cod, Cauliflower and Chorizo dish from last night that was amazing, so I’m inspired to keep going.

And it wouldn’t be New Year without a new skill right? I suppose I could say I already know how to knit but I haven’t done any for at least 15 years and even then didn’t know how to cast on or off, so there’s plenty to learn and re-learn. I’d just love to whip up a new hat for Bea when I want to or little jumpers and cardigans, and to know she was wearing something I made with love would be, well… pretty special. Watch this space!

Of course there could be more… date night, trying to get fit again… but now it’s your turn readers. Have you made any resolutions? Got any goals? even if they are not for the year and just on your current to-do list, I’d love to hear them ;)

Rebecca x

PS Look how big Bea grew! I couldn’t resist including a few pictures as it’s been a while… ;)

Happy New Year!

Hello readers! I’m happy to say, I’m back!

I knew almost as soon as I said goodbye that I wanted to continue blogging in some capacity, I value the community here too much to quit completely, but I needed to find a way forward. I think with the benefit of hindsight, because Florence Finds has changed so much since the beginning, it felt wrong to be continually winding down and I needed a clean break to start again. With that in mind, I will be here on a complete ad-hoc basis. If I have something to say, and the time to say it, I will!

I think part of the problem, aside from work, becoming a mother and that little thing called ‘life’ getting in the way, the way I blog has changed massively in the 3+ years since I started Florence Finds. Initially it was very much magazine style with snippets I found everywhere, but over time it has evolved to become a completely personal blog, a place where I share my inspiration and choices. Instead of pinching a couple of stock images of a moisturiser and babbling my thoughts on it, now a typical post documents something I did or am planning and a room update for example requires me to tidy,(!) photograph it, edit the photos, write the post and put all sorts of links in. They are much more time consuming than they were. I used to wrestle with my lack of appetite for trawling the online sites for a new ‘party dress review’ but I have come to terms with just sharing my life now, as I have always just wanted others to have the benefit of my experiences (good or bad,) and to gain the wisdom of so many others doing the same things and going through the same life stages. :) So here I am again.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year… I won’t be doing a traditional January Joy series, in that it won’t be pre-planned, but I think my blog posts throughout the month will reflect the general theme of ‘January Joy’ so I hope you enjoy reading them. I’ll be back with my resolutions tomorrow (as I felt they deserved a fresh post!)

If you are reading this… thanks for sticking around ;)

Rebecca x

Goodbye for now…

I imagine the title here says it all, but I am writing this to say goodbye and close Florence Finds for business, for a while at least.

For a long time, writing here has been something I have felt I ought to do, rather than wanted to do. Life has slowed down, so I don’t have as much to share, yet become richer and fuller. As a mum and working too, time is precious, free time even more so. In terms of priorities, FF is slipping down the list. Despite my turn of phrase above, this is not my business, my GP practice is and in the current climate that demands more and more of my time too.

I’ve always felt that blogs should be predictable and regular, so readers know when to check in. I’ve failed at that miserably lately and even though I have considered posting on an as-and-when basis, I know I would even then still feel obliged to post. For that reason I have decided to take a break until the end of the year and re-evaluate how I feel then. If I carry on here, it needs to be because I have found a way to do it for me again.

I know it will feel surreal, and I will miss the relationships I have here but if you would like to continue following me or keep in touch, you can find me on Instagram. Thank you for reading for the last 4 years, and take care readers.

xxx

Dream Destination: One World Observatory

When we visited New York recently we planned to visit the World Trade Centre site and museum but I hadn’t realised that there was a new viewing deck at One World Trade Centre and after seeing the promotional video we decided it was worth the trip. It remains the highlight of our visit now and I would unreservedly recommend going out of your way to stop by, it’s just breath taking.


Tickets are $32 (£20) for adults and can be bought in advance with a timed entry slot. We decided we wanted to go with the best weather so walked down one morning thinking if it was full we would book for later in the day, or another day. In fact when we went to buy some tickets we were told we could go now and so headed straight in.

I was a little nervous of going up there. Totally ridiculous I know, but I couldn’t help but think of the past. Stepping inside the tower is incredible though, its completely white as you descend (the photos here are of the PATH station below the tower,) and feels monolithic and permanent, making me finally understand why those poor souls in the towers on 9/11 didn’t flee instantly when the planes hit – the though of anything taking this down was unimaginable.

Although it was hard for me to forget at first, the OWO experience is very much geared towards the positive with no mention of the twin towers, just the pride this new building has become to New York. It starts a floor below, moving through a multimedia space with those involved in the planning and build taking about their experience then takes you in a ‘sky pod’ lift with video projected on all 4 walls. As the lift ascends it is as though you are moving through time, starting looking out over the swamps that NYC was first settled on then the early city and to more recent times with skyscrapers growing all around you as you arrive on the 102nd floor in less than 60 seconds.

Stepping out felt like being at the cinema, dark with an air of suspense. We were ushered into a gallery type area with the ‘See Forever’ theatre screen of New York scenes then without warning the screen lifted and the view out across manhattan was revealed. It was truly breathtaking.

The tour then moves through a small cafe and down to the main 360 viewing deck. There is a ‘Sky Portal’ which shows real time video footage of the street below, under a large glass area of floor, just as if you are suspended above the street. I also loved the 2 large ‘City Pulse’ view points with guides who stood and gave snapshot presentations on New Yorks history and neighbourhoods with local insight – it was a really nice touch that you didn’t have to participate in but I loved.

Of course the star of the show is the view and I was totally wowed. We had great weather which helped but it was amazing looking out there in so many directions, with helicopters buzzing around you and so many iconic buildings and for me, memories of trips past. As you can see, Bea loved it!

If you happen to be planning a trip to New York this was my absolute favourite (tourist) experience there – definitely do it! Find out more here: One World Observatory

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS Theres a fancy cocktail bar and restaurant up there too – if you go childless or just don’t mind taking yours in, that would have been the icing on the cake ;)

How to Wear: October

Morning Readers!

A super-short post this morning as October seems to have whizzed by in a flurry of birthdays (mine), Baptisms (Oscar’s) and illness (all of us!)

I spent the day of my birthday at one of our local National Trust properties with the boys and my Mum, and true to form, I wore denim and khaki.

 
Next up was Oscar’s Baptism. A wonderful afternoon spent with our closest friends and family to celebrate his birth. The service was lovely as it was just us after the main Mass of the day (being Catholic we didn’t want to make the Baptism part of the whole service for those of our non-Catholic friends & family…). I wore an Off-White dress from & Other Stories which I loved. Again, so nice to be able to dress up for the afternoon. Oscar wore a Gown made by my Mum from the remnants of my bridesmaid dresses which she also made. The plan was for him to wear my Christening Gown but he was too big for it unfortunately!

   

 
 The other thing I’ve been trying to do is wear all of my old jeans and purge those I’m not happy with. These are two of the keepers – some bootcuts and some Indigo Skinnies. (My obsession with stripes knows no bounds!)

 
 And lastly, a very exciting Birthday Present…

   
It’s already made me move around more than I would normally, and I took a call on it yesterday… Weird!

I’ll be back soon with What to Buy in November… ;)

Erin xx 

Review: Spectre

It wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t getting excited her about Bond, and the latest release Spectre is no exception – Pete and I went last night for a long awaited date night to Pizza Express and then onto the film which was lovely in itself, but Spectre… Wow.

The reviews have been mostly great and it is (as always) an amazingly entertaining watch, but I will say, it’s not perhaps as good as some of the others. I think Craig is the best bond ever and I hope he will do more, but there was a strong sense throughout that it was his last.

In some ways it felt like quite a departure from the usual format – there were references to Bonds past throughout the film and a few nods to classic bond with the odd cheesy moment, but it was the theme of bringing together all of Craigs recent Bonds (and their villains) that gave it an almost sequel like quality.

That said, Craig still plays a deliciously flawed Bond. There is a true sense of his fear in this one and also a little more weakness over women, more like we saw in Casino Royale and his love affair with Vesper Lynd. There are also truly cringe worthy moments of violence and cruelty where he appears at once unstoppable, but also on the brink of human defeat.

As always the cars are spectacular, the big set piece scenes are awesome, (although I enjoyed the car chase around the Vatican much more than the much discussed opening Day of the Dead opening scene,) and the women of Bond just get better and better. Monica Bellucci’s part really isn’t anything to write home about and perhaps a bit too classic (helpless female womanised by Bond) for my taste but Madelaine Swan’s character is much more interesting and kick-ass. ;)

So readers, have you seen it? Are you going? I’m giving it 5 stars, even though its not quite as epic as Craigs other Bonds, it was still amazing and I’d watch it again any day of the week! Go go go!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Number 2.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a chatty post around here… I’m very curious about this one. It’s a tad specific so apologies to the non-mama readers I have, but if you are a mama, when did you start craving number 2?

Just last week I met with friends and talk turned to babies and planning future children. She said that around this time (Bea is 15 months) she suddenly became totally obsessed with having another and now she is mum to 2 beautiful girls :) I asked her if she thought it was biological or just her desired timeframe between children and she said it was more biological.

It registered with me because I feel the same! I don’t think I was ever truly ‘broody’ before Bea, but recently I’ve had this uncontrollably (well almost,) ;) urge to get pregnant again, even though it’s not what I really want life or space between children-wise. I know lots of women have said the same to me regarding trying for their first. Its unimaginable before it happens and it still find it hard to believe that biology can be so powerful. (- why I find this hard to believe I don’t know, being a scientist and all!) I wonder if it happens to everyone at a certain time, is it nature? Is it related to breast feeding less, so the timing might vary mum to mum…?

So I wondered… have you felt like this before? Before your first? And if you already have a baby, when did wanting another kick in for you?

Looking forward to reading your thoughts with a coffee later ;)

Love,
Rebecca xo

The Garden: After [The Planting]

I hope you enjoyed yesterdays post – there was just far too much to share for one post so I’m continuing today with a bit more detail. :)

The design of the hard landscape of the garden is quite geometric which stemmed from the large square deck we had already built. All the angles and lines reflect that but the planting contrasts with the angles in that is is very soft and fluid with swaying grasses and cloud like groupings of wild looking flowers. The downside to this kind of planting is that is relies heavily on perennials – that is plants that die back every winter and grow again in summer  - so we needed some structure to provide a backbone. The box balls form part of that, are contemporary and also break up the expanse of grass which was my concession to Pete’s plans for the garden – he would have been very happy grassing the whole thing with a goal post at either end. ;)

The planting was inspired by Piet Oudolf who I have talked about here before. A Dutch plantsman who is one of the most influential designers of our time, he champions a natural style of garden based on wildflowers and prairie fields. He also wants us to see the beauty in all stages of a plants life from the first shoots in spring through the flowers in summer to the frost on seedpods and frozen strands of dead grass in winter. His popular public works include the High Line in New York which I was thrilled to visit in person on our trip earlier this month and he is famous for his use of grasses. I’m so happy with how our planting turned out.

I browsed a few of his books before choosing our plants and made sure I choose amongst my own favourites some key plants of his to ‘get the look’. Some of the key species included Stipa tenuissima (the golden grass you see here,) Echinacea (the tall daisy like flowers,) Sanguisorba (the burgundy ball-like flowers in the picture above,) and Verbena bonariensis, (tiny purple flowers that form a cloud above lower plants or grasses they are planted through.) You can find more suitable plant combinations here. The other important thing to do is to plant in swaths – to get this look you need groups of 7 or 11 plants rather than 3 or 5.

The patio area is where our garden gets the majority of the sun, and is quite exposed in that way so the pergola was designed to be a focal point but also to add shade. We planted 3 climbing plants at the corners to cover it and add dappled shade – a white Wisteria, a Passion flower and a scented jasmine closest to twhere our table is.

The borders extend to surround the patio and the idea is that as the flowers mature the dining area will be partially obscured, and feel slightly enclosed and more cosy for dinners outside. We eat outside a lot in summer so I can’t wait for this are to become even more magical than it feels already…

Back towards the house, we built raised beds to break up the drop from the deck down  to the garden and also to bring the garden to the deck, so to speak. They were built last summer when the deck was, but only filled when the garden was done.

The one above is west facing and gets the sun all day so it’s got some drought resistant plants in there along with some prarie style additions and some of my favourite cottage garden plants too. I aimed for height here so they were taller than the deck 50cm above the planting box and could be seen through the glass balustrade. On the other side, the other box is north facing and gets very little sun, only at the very end of the day as it drops so it looks very different with ferns (including a tiny tree fern!) Japanese anemones, Heuchera and Hostas for sculptural foliage and variety of colour in the leaves.

Of course, it’s still not finished. We didn’t completely clear some shrubs in one of the borders so there was some backdrop for the immature planting but we will be changing that this autumn and winter. There is also a flower bed I had planned to be quite cotremporary not he left side and not pictured really here, but I’m now undecided if thats what I really want, or if the plants I had picked were the right ones. I may give it a year or two to develop and think about it.

That’s what I love about gardening. Its never over, it’s never done and it can always be worked on, built and changed. Its probably the only area of my life that I take the long view on and as a result it’s so relaxing.

I hope you enjoyed the insight again and once again, the design was down to brilliant Iain from Outer Space Lansdcapes, with the planting by me. :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

The Garden: After

As the Autumn is in full swing, I thought I’d share the picture of my finished garden, probably as good as it’s going to get before everything starts to die off for the winter. As you can see if you look back at my last post, the plants have filled out dramatically.

I absolutely love it. If we left this house I would miss the garden more than anything I think.

Before we start, some obligatory before and after shots – the ‘before’s’ with the garage are from the beginning of May and the photos in this post were taken in mid September, so its has really changed massively in less than 5 short months.

I am SO glad we got rid of the garage. Of course we have the luxury of a cellar to store ‘stuff’ in but in all honesty it’s a few garden tools and a lawnmower. nothing a shed couldn’t have handled and it has been so worth it for the extra space in a small garden.

The only thing that is different other than the planting in these pictures from the last post is that we finally finished off the decking with a glass and steel balcony to protect the edges. I think lots of people think we are mad having such a big open stepped area down but it was an integral part for me of keeping the deck a part of the garden, rather than two areas, and due to the cellars there would always be a drop from stepping out of the house, down to the garden. short of a ramp, nothing would have been ‘safe’ for Bea.

I have a ton of pictures to share so I’m going to split this post into two. There will be more tomorrow with the detail of the design and planting. Once again, the design and landscaping was all by Iain at Outer Space Lanscapes and I wouldn’t hesitate to work with him again – he was brilliant to work with, hardworking and did an amazing job. In fact we will be asking him to re-landscape the front garden in the future. I will just share the vegetable area of the garden today.

Some of you may remember we had an allotment before we moved and gave it up knowing the house would take up our time, that we planned a family and that we hoped to grow some veg in the new garden. I asked for some custom designed raised vegetable beds to be incorporated in to the design and space for a greenhouse, and I’m so glad we did. I love pottering in my working corner of the garden but it looks just as good as the rest of it!

I wanted a wooden greenhouse but they are so expensive and eventually we found this tiny one online. It was less than half the price of most as it is untreated, meaning we had to protect it with a stain and protect product but I wanted to Paint it anyway so it was not great loss. It’s also got plastic windows which I wasn’t that thrilled about, but painted up, I love it. It still has some of the green plastic film on the windows in these pictures and the inside needs painting still too, but it has been fab for growing in and we had our first tomatoes in there this year.

For the veg beds we concentrated on stuff we would use, that crops heavily and in a short space. 2 courgette plants kept us fed for the whole summer, we grew salad leaves, runner beans, peas and broad beans. And I had a corner of sweet peas solely for cutting.

Come back tomorrow for some more photos of the planting and detail :) Maybe I’ll periscope it when we get a sunny day!

Love,
Rebecca
xo