Call for posts – Be a part of Florence Finds!

If you’re a daily visitor round here and have been for some time, you’ll know that things have changed somewhat in the last year or so. When Florence Finds started I was working part time and blogged twice daily. As life changed in January 2013 I dropped to a single post a day and managed so much better. More recently, it’s been around 4 times a week. The change has been for a number of reasons… my work has become busier and busier, demanding later nights and making me jealously guard my none work time with Pete and friends or family. The thing is, when I started, I was used to working all day at work and then working all night blogging and I had more free time to write about what I was doing, out and about. Now I have an actual life too, the more I have, the more I want. Bottom line, Florence Finds is a sideline, a hobby and whilst I would never be without the fabulous community I have built here (I really don’t know what I would have done without your help and advice in recent weeks and months,) my real life has to come first. And I am so much happier for it.


Caroline’s Pigeon bedroom makeover

In the back of my mind has also been that life is going to change in a major way again very soon when this baby arrives and I have no idea how that will fit in with blogging. I am very aware that this blog has become very pregnancy and baby related and I can only apologise to those whom that doesn’t interest and are consequently sad – I know because I have been there with some of my previously favourite blogs. Although I was always interested for future reference. ;) All I can say is that the consistent feedback I get is that people want to know what I am doing, decorating, seeing, travelling and thinking so the blog has become more and more a reflection of my life. Hopefully that resonates with you at similar, or different stages of yours.


Amy’s trip of a lifetime to Hawaii

So, what is going to happen when baby arrives? Honestly, in the short term I don’t know. I want to take a few weeks off to just enjoy being with Pete and baby in our new little family and I know I will need time to adjust, get settled into feeding and some semblance of new normality and sleep! However I also know that I will want to update you guys, probably ask a whole heap of questions and of course to introduce you to baby. So I may pop in here and there. I may also pre-prepare some posts while in my mat leave and post them sporadically to keep you all going a couple of times a week until I can come back. It might be a long time before I can commit to a regular schedule but I hope you’ll all bear with me.


Pear and Caramel cake by Asma

If any of you want to help or get involved, I would love to have you. Florence Finds has always been about community and that’s why I maintain a roster of contributors who offer something different to my own experiences and interests. If you think you can write a short post that is similar to the kinds of things I post here, I would love to feature it, so I’m asking for your submissions. Here are a few guidelines and ideas: (I’ve linked to previous posts to give you some guidance of how I would tackle a similar post)


Victoria’s Chocolate walking tour of London

A note on images.
Everybody worries about images when submitting things to the blog. High quality images are one of the main factors in what makes a blog enjoyable to read but not everyone has a fancy camera. The main thing to do is make sure you have good natural lighting (easy in summer!) and take a mixture of zoomed in vignettes (close up detail shots) and wide angle full body/whole room type shots. For hotels, days out etc, you might want to include web links and I can often get images from websites or online. If you’re still worried, Instagram solves everything and I’m always happy to feature Instagram filtered shots to make things look a little more consistent! Above all have fun with it. I really enjoy taking photos for the blog (well, not the outfit ones perhaps!) and styling them to exercise some creative muscle!

So, if you think you can contribute, just email me your post and images or weblinks to hello@florencefinds.com and mark it submission – I will be eternally grateful!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS The pictures in the post are all from guest posts written for Florence Finds, but non-regular contributors, (with the exception of Victoria.)

Nursery: And the Animals came in Two by Two…

The first nursery scheme I posted was a complete contrast to this one, Bright and Bold with neutral accents. Then I spotted and fell in love with this Animals wallpaper from Beware the Moon and had to use it as a base for a nursery mooodboard to see if I could live with the neutrals. I think with enough bright accents, I can make it work… it’s just about finding the right pieces.

I still plan to incorporate lots of brights as accents so the room doesn’t look stark, but the wallpaper was so beautiful I couldn’t let it go unused and I worried the Triangle print would be too busy and full on. This is a great way of adding pattern and texture, without making my eyes turn into triangles too!

We’re finishing the decorating this weekend so hopefully I’ll have something to show you very soon!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

[Girl About Town] What to Wear: To an Indian Wedding

It’s not me sharing outfits today but Victoria. I saw her recent escapades on Facebook and just had to ask her to share her outfits, pulled together for what looked like a fabulous Indian wedding. Victoria is always glamorous and her four (yes, four!) outfits didn’t disappoint so I hope you enjoy looking and perhaps get some ideas for weddings you are attending this summer (or share some of your own outfits.)

I’ve been to a lot of weddings. 37 to be precise, not including our own, and I have four more over the next 12 months. I therefore have a lot of practise in putting together wedding outfits. Some of you that follow me on Instagram may have seen me in my wedding outfit planning efforts. I treat them in the same way I treat work projects – lots of preparation, diagrams and chat about the final product, but all thrown together in a panic in the last few moments, that often works out quite well, but is very different from the original plan. Shhh, don’t tell my boss!

I used to buy something new for each one – a new hat or dress, shoes or clutch… but then I totted up 12 invites in one year, some of them being two or three day events (so you know, you also need a special outfit for the big “night before” dinner and then something fancy-but-hangover-comfy for the morning/day after “survivors” gathering) and seeing as I’m neither a Kardashian nor a Middleton, it all got a bit much for my bank (in)balance and so I started recycling. I now have a pretty good suite of “occasion wear” from which I can mix and match future outfits.

So for 2014′s five weddings I sorted all my outfits out at the beginning of the year and knew exactly what I was going to wear…. and then I realised one was an Indian wedding and I had literally no clue where to start.

Thankfully the bride was on the ball, arranged a number of shopping trips for us less-clued up guests, provided a handy “what to wear, when” guide for the girls and boys for the various events and was kind enough to pick up little bits and pieces for us on her numerous trips to India.

So, here’s a run down of what I actually wore…

Civil Wedding (Friday afternoon)
For the Civil Wedding, the guideline was “British summer wedding” and having checked out the venue (One Marylebone) and spoken to the bride about her colour schemes (soft colours, white and pale pinks) at length I knew exactly what to wear.  I pulled out a dress (special edition Olivia Rubin/Dorothy Perkins collaboration), a white Whistles clutch, some H&M hair clips (as I couldn’t fit a hat in my overnight bag) and my old faithful pink Louboutins (my wedding shoes – still the comfiest heels I’ve worn in five years!) and a fussy H&M pale pink necklace. I had intended to wear some new baby blue ankle strap shoes from New Look, but it was far too hot and I didn’t fancy “ankle-muffin top”.

Sangeet/Mehndi party  Friday evening
For the celebrations on Friday evening the guidance for Indian clothing was a trouser suit/Salwaar Kameez/Anarkali or Lengha (a skirt and a top with a scarf) and for western clothing, something bright. On a shopping trip with the bride, I found a nice hot pink and rose gold anarkali (a long floaty dress/top, trousers and a long scarf) which I dressed up with a pair of neon blue pointed courts (super cheap but super comfy from Linzi), some large gold chandelier earrings, some hot pink and gold bangles (a gift from the bride) and a rose gold evening bag from Mulberry.

We were performing a dance to Jai Ho as a tribute to the bride and groom at the event, and as it was incredibly hot and sticky that day, it was a no brainer that my hair was glued up and off my face in a bouffy beehive. It may look fancy, but let me assure you it’s not, I got dressed in a corridor and my hair is held up with a ton of dry shampoo, a gallon of elnett and quite a lot of sweat. Gross! Sorry!
Saturday was a day of rest and recovery for me, not so for the bride who had another two outfits to rock!

Hindu Wedding  Sunday day
The guidelines for this included “any type of Indian clothing, most guests will be in a sari” or if I chose western clothing, to be respectful and make sure it wasn’t too short or revealing. I was worried that wearing Indian clothing might have seemed odd, or offensive, seeing as I’m not Indian, but the bride assured me it was a good idea and even lent me one of her saris – in a beautiful pistachio green, embroidered and embellished in gold. It consisted of a petticoat, a blouse and a long, loooong piece of material which you fold, wrap, gather, tuck and drape around your body.

Thankfully, the bride’s mother had pre-folded and sewed the pleats at the front, so when I arrived (in essentially my underwear at a posh five star hotel (The Grove)  it was only a case of wrapping, tucking and draping in the nearest toilet cubicle (which was thankfully rather plush, considering the venue). I found someone to pin everything in to place so I flashed no tummy (too soon in the year for that!) and to keep everything secure. I accessorised with big gold earrings, a sparkly hair band, more bangles from India (another gift from the bride) and some gold sandals I wore as a bridesmaid 7 years ago, from Faith, which are still going strong! I took along my trusty Lulu Guinness lips clutch for a pop of colour!

Reception  Sunday night
The instructions for the reception, the big finale, were “think black tie – go glam”… now those instructions I had no trouble with! I wore a bargain ASOS dress, that looks way more expensive that it was. I also have it in white, but I thought for the evening’s decor and theme, Art Deco London, the black would be better, as I last wore it at a Claridge’s Christmas party. You may have also seen it on the wonderful Rebecca as well. Great minds think alike and all that!

I accessorised with a box clutch (a fiver in an Oasis sale years ago, and until now, unused, due to its rather unuseful size!) pewter peep toe heels from the Ted Baker sale, also years old but dead comfy, some Swarovski earrings which were a 30th birthday present, a super-bling chunky bracelet – also a 30th birthday present – and again some bangles from India, given away as favours at the Sangeet/Mehndi party.

On Monday I wore pyjamas, lots of Sudocrem and Vaseline on all my sequin chafe and allergic flare ups from all the safety pins and soft, soft socks on my dance-weary feet.

I can’t publish photos of the bride without her permission, but rest assured, no matter what effort we put in, we paled in comparison to how stunningly breathtaking she was. Her outfits (designed bespoke to match each venue, theme and setting), accessories and make up had my jaw on the floor.

When she’s back from her well-deserved honeymoon, perhaps I’ll convince her to give you a sneaky peek.

How do you plan for wedding outfits? Or is it just me that’s this bonkers about planning?

Victoria x

PS! Find Victoria over on her blog Sugar Plum Slipper or on twitter @VictoriaHale.

Getting ready for baby

This week is my last at work and although I’m feeling ok from a tiredness point of view I am looking forward to having some time to devote purely to getting ready for baby. At present (36 weeks) I have the sum total of a pram, 1 blanket, 1 cardigan, 2 sleep suits, 1 baby bath and a rocking crib with 2 sheets. No nappies. No car seat. In fact there are plenty of essentials still missing.

I had no idea where to start with baby stuff and even had to ask my sister in law what you even put a baby to bed in (clothes-wose) after getting very confused about swaddling and blankets or no blankets advice. I found the John Lewis Nursery checklist very helpful and not at all excessive in terms of things to buy and so I edited it and created my own version here.

Do bear in mind that the different sections of the list may not apply to everyone. The feeding section for example is geared towards breast feeding as I intend to give it a good go, and I’m not sure a play mat or bouncer are essential for the first few weeks of a baby’s life. Although I’m lucky enough to live close to supermarkets and John Lewis, and there’s always Amazon, I don’t want to be unprepared so these are my basics to stock up on so I can concentrate on baby for the first few weeks.

You can download the list by clicking on the image above if you want to, or just click here.

I’d love to hear if you think any of it is unnecessary or if I have missed any essentials off that you found you couldn’t live without in the first few weeks?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

June on Instagram…

June has absolutely flown by in the Norris household, probably because so many projects were completed or nearing completion and we started a couple of new ones too. Now that it’s almost June I’m pretty terrified to see my due date looming on the next months calendar and excited to meet baby Norris at the same time. An equally large amount of things need to happen before baby arrives for me to feel even remotely ready, so I hope time doesn’t fly quite as fast!

The kitchen has gone from almost finished to very almost finished and usable, which has felt fantastic and meant we moved from takeaways, to easy cook no-mess dinners like Pizza (and the re-initiation of Friday-night-is-pizza-night in the Norris house,) through to the Sunday-brunch-this-kitchen-was-made-for Pancakes. We also finally had the stained glass put back into our bedroom windows and I’m loving our new kitchen floor.

At the beginning of the month I spent a few days in Windermere for a work course and as usual, remembered that I should spend more time there as it’s so close.

In full on nesting mode we also started 2 more rooms in the house. As Francesca is still with us, we needed a nice room for mum to stay in when the baby comes, so we ploughed through one of the attic rooms, having it replastered, a new window fitted and new carpet, then decorated it all in 2 weeks. More on that soon.

Lastly, this weekend we started the nursery – It’s now ready to wallpaper, having took longer than we expected to paint and I have a much clearer picture of where we’re going decor wise. More on that to come soon too!

So what did you do this June? (I’m sure lots of you have had babies or are due next month like me?) Have you been decorating like us or being sensible and just enjoying the weather?!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Five on Friday…

Since the house is kind of getting there (i.e. the builder is more outside than inside now…) I’m thinking about the best methods of cleaning. Microfiber and e-cloths were a revelation for me in the fight against dust and dirt so I love posts like this one from Real Simple on the best cleaning supplies.

Do you smile then apply your blusher? I do, but wondered if that look was getting dated (after all, I’ve been doing it for at least 10 years!) so this post on how to apply your blusher perfectly was well timed.

Dana from one of my favourite interiors blogs House Tweaking is giving a whole house tour right now. She is working on an epic renovation and I love her style, so head on over for some serious interiors porn.

This weekend we are decorating the nursery and in an about turn after this moodboard, we’re going (surprise surprise, ) grey with this stunning paper. Check out their Ostrich paper too for a healthy dose of quirk that would look great in a bathroom or bedroom.

As this is the first proper weekend Pete and I have to ourselves with the new kitchen in, I’m planning on making the most of it and cooking a weekend breakfast. Pancakes are top of the list and I might try this recipe from Jamie Oliver’s protege, Anna Jones (she was one of the first trainees at Fifteen,) and her book is on modern veggie recipes – A Modern Way to Eat, check it out… (and the recipe here.)

Happy Friday readers,

Love,
Rebecca
xo

25-33 weeks…

The last 10 weeks of pregnancy has absolutely flown by and I feel bad that I have let these updates slip, not because I think you’re hanging on my every pregnancy related word, but because I use this as a record for myself too. I even have a little note book of pregnancy milestones and haven’t recorded anything in it since before 20 weeks.

The truth is, so far (touch wood,) I have been very lucky and pregnancy hasn’t really stopped me at all. That is definitely changing now (more in my next update,) but up to 34 weeks things have been pretty normal. That coupled with all the things we have been having done to the house has been a massive distraction and I speak no word of a lie when I say aside from the pram, we are no more prepared for a baby now than we were at my last update.

I feel kind of sad about this. I know my second pregnancy (again, touch wood,) won’t be the same as my first, with a small one around to run around after I doubt it will be given much attention and I wish I had had time to indulge in pregnancy related treats like Yoga. I haven’t done a single jot of regular exercise since becoming pregnant and never made it swimming as I intended. But, I guess the physical activity in the house has more than made up for that and whilst I now feel huge, I’ve only just hit the 2 stone weight gain mark. And health wise, it’s only really been working hard in the house that has phased me – my lower back has been really stiff and sore if I over do the cleaning or decorating. Oh that and tennis…

28 weeks seemed like a good time to suggest a game of tennis with Pete and whilst we took it easy – I wasn’t sprinting for any long shots, it was fab to be active again. I more than paid for it however and had terrible back pain for about three days, even sleeping propped up one night, then fortunately it passed. Lesson learned. We also went to a wedding at 28 weeks (I posted my outfit here,) and I felt fantastic. One of the lovely things about pregnancy has been how happy people are for you. Everyone is interested and wants to talk about the baby, and whilst it’s not helping me get my patients seen on schedule at work at all, it feels really special.

At 31-32 weeks we travelled to Italy for our friends wedding, a little over the recommended time limit for flying but I paid for a fit to fly note from my GP and had no problems at all. I wasn’t going to not go ‘just in case’ when in all likelihood baby’s arrival was another 10 weeks off. As a side note here, if you do intend to fly with a visible bump, it’s well worth getting a note – I didn’t think I looked that big but was asked for my note on both legs of the journey at check in and although I don’t know what would have happened if I had simply said I was under the 28 week limit most airlines impose, it was good to have the back up and no stress. Travelling was fine – I made sure I stayed hydrated and did leg exercises but it was a short 3 hour flight and all felt pretty normal. We did make concessions to our usual style of travel – after Barcelona I knew an all day sight seeing walking tour wasn’t for me and we had a lot of ice cream stops but I was still fine cycling all around Florence for the day. Tuscan hill top towns were another matter and I felt like a steam train much of the time puffing around!

We went away mid kitchen renovation and came back to the final weeks of it which have since passed in a blur of project managing electricians, buying and returning lights, co-ordinating flooring fitters, painters (for the kitchen units) and marble installation, whilst actually decorating ourselves. In the midst of this we thought we had better get on with one of the attic guest rooms as Francesca is still with us due to hold ups in her purchase and so we need somewhere for relatives to stay when the baby is here. So that has been stripped, re-plastered, a new window is being fitted as I type and carpet coming later today. And before you ask… no, the nursery isn’t even partially started. Although the wallpaper did arrive yesterday!

All in all I had so many people scare-mongering about the third trimester and how awful pregnancy is/was that I hope a positive account of it is a balancing post for those of you contemplating making the leap. I know when I was planning to get pregnant (I promise, more on that too soon,) I had seen so many people struggle with it that I wondered how I would even manage to work, but even now I’m doing fine, so don’t worry before you have to! I’m hoping I can squeeze in another 2 updates before baby arrives, more for myself than anything so I’ll keep you posted, but we’ll see… ;)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS. My pregnancy so far…
The first three months…
14 – 20 weeks
20 – 25 weeks

Fash Flash: Summer Shoes

There were some murmurings on Twitter recently about work appropriate shoes for summer and it can’t be only me who has been feeling stifled in shoes during these warmer days.

I’m in the market myself for some smarter sandals that are work appropriate so thought I’d have a look for some options – the bonus is that many of these are in the sale or will soon go in, so there are bargains to be had!

Obviously, ‘work appropriate’ is a relative term and really depends on your place of work. I am lucky enough to be pretty flexible about what I wear but I appreciate some offices may be much more formal and other places more accepting of trend led styles.

Tips for keeping it work appropriate:

  • Check your work policy about open toed shoes
  • Choose Tan for a classic look that goes with your whole wardrobe or modern neutrals (white/nude/khaki/navy/animal print/metallics)
  • A low wedge can look smarter than the same shoe when flat soled.
  • Done right, a block colour can lift a conservative outfit and not look casual.
  • Look for good foot coverage – i.e. wider straps and formal details for fastening
  • Avoid ‘thong’ or flip flop toe post styles
  • Unless you work in a high fashion environment, avoid ‘flatforms’.
  • Avoid woven or punched leather and canvas finishes.


Dawn orange suedette flat £45 (also available in white) // GAP two band tan leather sandal £29.95 (also in black) // Kurt Geiger London Dahlia gold sandals £99 (also in nude or leopard calf hair) // Flexi-P calf hair blue sandal, Steve Madden at Dune £32 (also in B&W animal print)

Flats this season are all about the wide strap which is lucky as it’s a little more office appropriate if you are allowed to get your toes out. Metal plaque details also up the smart factor.

Maximilla navy low wedge Nine West £99 (also in white, black and nude) // Baylee6 gold low heel court, Anne Klein at Kurt Geiger £65 // Amber blue suede low wedge, Carvela £65

If you feel better with a little lift, but can’t face a proper heel, the mid or low heel is also bang on trend and wedges work really well for summer. Peep toes are perfect for a bit of cooling ventilation too.


GAP tan wedge £45 // Silver wide strap heels, Office £60 // Unice leather wedge heel, French Connection £95 // Gia buckle heel navy shoe, Whistles £185

For higher heels, look for a block heel or wedge and again those wide straps to kept the look fresh and modern, although I take my hat off to anyone with the patience to wear a pair like this to work when it’s hot!

Have you seen any work summer shoes readers?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

[Baby} Fash Flash: Changing bags

Now that we’re not getting the Cosatto pram (which came with a changing bag,) I’m starting to think that I can’t bury my head in the sand about changing bags anymore and need to find something to do the job. Trouble is, I’m kind of fussy about my bags and whilst I’m not bothered about finding a bag that is trying to pretend to be a handbag, I do want something that fits my style.

I thought I’d share some of my criteria and some of the better brands and bags I have spotted.

Needs:

  • Wipe clean/waterproof (for pushing the pram in Manchester drizzle.)
  • Reasonably priced ie, significantly less than £100
  • Stylish (puts a rucksack out of the question – not me at all.)
  • Not huge – I’m not a big packer and don’t want to lug around everything but the kitchen sink.
  • Not overtly feminine (I have asked Pete about this and he doesn’t care what the changing bag looks like, but I don’t want him to feel totally silly.)
  • Not too bothered about inserts/included changing bags or bottle holders, but the more expensive it is, the more bothered I would be.
  • Cross body strap for hands-free ease.


Cara Navy stripe £55 // Satchel jumbo dot (navy) £42 // Big slouchy £47 // Amanda quilted, £57.95

Babymel bags are from London (I do love supporting British brands) and have great designs and patterns. I really like this navy spot bag as it will work in winter and summer, without looking silly on Pete.


BabaBing Day Tripper £50

This weekend I saw my girlfriends for a kind of pseudo baby shower (Read: indulgent afternoon tea and dinner out while I grilled them for birth and baby info.) One brought along her 5 week old and this changing bag recommended by 2 of the others there as a unisex option and it has some amazing features, like top access without lifting the flap and a waterproof sealed pocket for soiled items.


Pacapod Napier £85

I’m a real sucker for anything organisational, so the Pacapods really appeal to me. Is it just a gimmick though and will all those compartments just add to access difficulties?


Skip Hop Forma changing bag £65 and grab and go wet/dry bag £13

Also love the chevron print of the Skiphop Forma bag and the wet/dry grab and go bag. Although there’s no cross body strap for this one.

What do you think readers? Got a recommendation I should look into? Roz suggested TK Maxx. What I really need to know is:

What are your essential changing bag contents?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Pram Update… Uppababy Vista

A couple of weeks ago I told you all about our plans to buy a pram and the couple we had looked at. Amazingly, I got so much feedback and advice, along with your recommendations, and the feedback on the Uppababy Vista was so overwhelming we decided to take a second look. Pete was much happier with the build quality and for me it just has a few things that edge it over the other choices.

  • Pull out full sunshade as we’re going to have a summer baby
  • Huge shopping basket.
  • Not too bad a price
  • Bassinet is safe for baby to sleep in there as a travel cot – fully ventilated (as we have a holiday planned for when baby is 12 weeks old)
  • The frame folds down and stands up on it’s end for easy storage.
  • Smaller when folded down to fit in the boot then others we looked at.
  • You can buy a travel bag for it to keep it safe in an aeroplane hold and that also insures it for damage while travelling.
  • Comes with rain covers and insect nets too
  • Works with the BeSafe iZi Go car seat (which is Pete’s preferred choice) or the Maxicosi – adapters included

So that’s our choice, we’re going for the bright orange to satisfy my colour cravings and although I’m sad to be missing out on the fun prints on our previous choice, I think this is the better option. Thanks so much for all the advice and recommendations – I know future readers will find it really useful too. :)

Just need a baby to put in it now!

Love,
Rebecca
xo