Sunday, 29 November 2015

Advent in our home. Ideas to share.

This is it then, the beginning of advent and the start of our path to Christmas. This year more than ever I seem to be so excited. I think it's because Raph is another year older and he is understanding so much more. He went to see a reindeer parade the other day with his grandparents where he saw "Merry Christmas" or as we would know him, Father Christmas. I love this confusion he has with the seasonal term and this famous character. What a perfect way to describe him! When Raph then saw I had got the advent decorations out he promptly started checking them all for chocolate and questioning why there wasn't any. It's so lovely to see him remembering what happens as he grows more aware.
I seem to be waiting for advent to start somewhat. I think it is because I move away from a few work deadlines so I am relieved that I step away from them, and also I am not working up to Christmas eve as I have done the past 3 years so I have all this excitement ready for enjoying what is to come.

I wanted to share some of our advent bits with you. They are quite crafty ideas, all bar one you can replicate in your own homes.
In fact, I will start with this first Reindeer Stable advent calendar which I picked up at a Christmas fair last year. I just loved the colouring of it and the illustrations of each reindeer. It is straightforward, each day a new character gets popped into the stable until it is full. Very quaint and as I have kept it safe it looks brand new!
It is by Pheonix Trading and available through independent retailers via their website.

I made this plant pot advent calendar a good few years ago now. I think at the time I saw one for around £40, so I decided to collect some terracotta plant pots and write some numbers on. I put a gold coin in each one and as each day passes I replace the coin with a candle. Most of the plant pots were reclaimed and I just scrubbed them clean. An easy little project.

This advent candle has only 4 candles to represent the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. I love this stand from Dunelm (£6.99), a bit abstract for my usual tastes but with these Cox and Cox pink candles and a beautiful Ginger Ray tags stamped 1-4, this looks beautiful with my pink and silver decorations on the mantle piece.

My new spare room/nursery space has opened up beautifully upstairs and has allowed me to decorate upstairs a bit to. This Christmas tree is a 3ft one from Homebase for £5.99 and I am so impressed. It is lovely and full, a perfect shape and it is perfect for what I want to do.
Placing it up in the spare room means that you see it as soon as you go upstairs. Through advent the children will hang a bells on a star each day counting up to Christmas day.

This last little tiny one, is a wee willy winkie style daily advent candle from Laura Ashley. It is really perfect for a little daily activity. I think we will light it when we have tea each day and enjoy it.

I am so looking forward to advent and Christmas and starting with all these little activities for the children to do each day will be wonderful!


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Making lists and chilling out with VQ.

Can you believe it's here? December already, and now time to start thinking about decorating, present buying and making list upon list about everything that needs to be done and prepared. It is amazing that this one month can create such excitement and such stress all at the same time. I find that as we head into December I like to try and slow down as much as possible, but please, don't think for a minute that's because I am organised. I still have plenty of shopping to do! I do love trying though, I am good at that, I to have a go at getting my lists together; knowing what I am buying, planning what food to get in for all the feasting, I try! 
It is nice as a mother and co-ordinator of the house (self-titled role), that I get a few spare moments to get my lists together and have time to think about Christmas. I love getting opportunities to daydream and since painting all the upstairs of our house I am finding myself  "hanging around" up there, for no reason, just to sit and think. It is nice having a space where I feel totally comfortable to just relax other than in front of the TV.
With these moments popping up through my week, this morning I decided to head up with my new VQ Radio and tune in Smooth FM Xmas; Christmas radio at it's finest! It was so nice just sitting and writing my Christmas list which Rob had hinted at getting yesterday, so I thought I better start one!

To be honest, this radio was actually on my Christmas list until I was picked to share it with you through the blog. What a perfect early Christmas present and one that is such a fitting piece for our home. Being a lover of Emma Bridgewater already and having a few of her items in mixed designs I decided to go for this Black Toast option. I love how timeless and classic it is. Monochrome accessories are always going to suit most homes as they will match to any colour. 

As far as the radio goes, moving it around your home is easy, as long as you have got a plug socket near by you can plug in and go! But if you haven't, amazingly it also has a battery compartment so it really can go anywhere with you! Other features also include Bluetooth to stream your own music, AUX connection for other devices and a USB charger point.

Finding time to have a sit down and an opportunity to jot down ideas is precious time that I don't waist. As mummy to our two and part-time worker, I am thoroughly enjoying grabbing minutes here and there to just sit, think and enjoy the music that will accompany the seasonal busyness. 

If you are thinking about adding this radio to your Christmas list then have a browse at VQ's Retro Mini radios in their range of Emma Bridgewater patterns.

Also, look out on the View Quest Facebook page as you could be in with the chance of winning one, so get following and try your luck!


*This is a collaborative post with View Quest Radio. All thoughts expressed are my own.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Creating perfection with Clarabelle Interiors

I love creating spaces where my family can be. Places where we can play and enjoy each other's company and places where we can relax. I have never been one to declare our home is perfect. It's an ex-council house, shabbiness still shines through in some parts but Rob and I have worked very hard at bringing new life to this place and building our home.

As life has changed and we have grown in numbers, bedrooms have changed round and we have had to change decor and style in certain rooms to suit. Two years ago when Etta was born, she moved into the nursery room, the smallest of the bedrooms, Rob and I moved into the converted attic and Raph into the 'master' bedroom. It has worked really nicely until the last few months when Etta started to get quite fussy and wanted to stay in Raph's big bed. It therefore quickly felt like the right time to start thinking about changing her cot into a bed. With that then came the thought of them sharing the big room. They could have had their own rooms but they enjoy each other's company so much that putting them together and creating a new space seemed a nice thing to do. And if it didn't work Etta can have her old space back as it would just be a spare room.

Instantly my mind got working and I built the design in my head. As it was a boy/girl mix this was a project that really got me thinking. I wanted to create a space that wasn't brash or bright. That wouldn't be to my taste anyway and I also didn't want it to be so neutral that neither sexes were recognised. 
One of the first changes that was to take place was the painting of the floor. I have loved having our original pine wood floorboards on show, they were one of the first things that were restored when we got the house. But it seemed time to freshen them so on went the white paint which created such a beautiful scene. It was amazing the difference that it made! I didn't need to repaint the walls of the bedroom, they were already a lovely grey shade that I was really happy with.

There was only one place that had been giving me my inspiration for the decor for the room: Clarabelle Interiors. It's funny that when you shop and research things like I do that you always come back round to where you first get that "that's exactly what I want" feeling. Clicking onto the Clarabelle Interiors website, you are instantly thrown into an interiors home styling book. The pictures are so unbelievably gorgeous that it is like you are flicking through the pages of an unobtainable home. But that's the thing; it is completely obtainable, it's almost unbelievable that you can purchase these beautifully handmade items for your home as they just look absolutely perfect. There is something about Clarabelle Interiors that just makes you feel the warmth and comfort that an item will bring to your home. Maybe it's the thought of the item being handmade to suit your style so you know that there is an amazing personal touch to it. Or it's the fact that Claire (Owner and maker) is so easy to chat to and talk through ideas with, that it's like having your best friend work on a project with you. Whatever it is, my experience with Clarabelle Interiors has been so wonderful and what we have been able to create for the kids' room is just perfect. 

When I first spoke to Claire I had quite an idea in my head of what I wanted to create. I was going to go with pink and blue, why not? Etta is definitely a pink girl and Raph is not bothered so for me, neutral was out and I was happy to gender stereotype the colours!! 

Claire works with a range of beautiful linens but one of my favourite fabric suppliers is Peony & Sage which Claire is renowned for working with. It's hard to pick between their flowers or stripes prints and with this gorgeous Jack print available I decided to simply have items made in the pink colour way and the blue. They would then match, but be defined for each child by the colour. 
Knowing that the children would have white beds and bedding I knew that the only colours would then come from the beautiful items from Clarabelle. 

The first item I want to share is these handmade eiderdowns. There are few words to provide my thoughts on these. By few I actually mean loads; pretty, perfect, beautiful, charming, artistic, classic, traditional, wonderful, handcrafted ......... there is actually an endless list! On opening the box my heart fluttered! It is one of those things that you look and think, "I hope you last forever!" This stunning piece of art work is perfect for little ones' beds. I had this bespoke size, there are many offered, as I didn't want something that I would have to take off the bed each night so the children didn't get too hot. It is a perfect footer for the beds which can be left on to look beautiful.

Claire made exquisite cushions to match in the same print for each bed. I make cushions, but in no way will I ever make them to the standard of these. They are just so totally gorgeous with their piped edges and button backs. Her technique is so perfect that it's hard to imagine that this was just flat sheets of fabric before she worked her magic. Against the plain white bedding the blue and pink linen fabric just sits so perfectly. And against the grey shade of the walls our little boy and girl have there little area which is clearly for them.

To help tie in the theme each child also has a bespoke lamp shade in the same matching fabric. I have looked into and even tried to make my own light shades before but never with success. These are just a perfect addition to the room and and help add to the bespoke look of it all.

Not only do Clarabelle Interiors offer the full package on bespoke makes, from curtains to seat covers,  bedding and lamp shades, they provide home accessories bought in from other brands but match the styling and colours to all the fabrics that they offer. This Makes it very easy to shop when you want to buy little bits to complement new makes. 
Both children got a Maileg rabbit which are just so gorgeous looking. Raphael got a beautiful Bertie dog shaped cushion to add to his bed. They also got a very cute mini Berti dog who sits on the side. With their new Boo rabbit sticker waiting by the door their room has become a very inspiring area. Full of beautiful items that have given us a perfect balance in creating a space that isn't directed at a boy OR girl, but a boy AND girl.

I just wanted to also mention a few bits Clarabelle Interiors inspired me to make. I created soft head and footboards for the children's beds after seeing some similar bespoke items. I have never done this before but using the pictures I worked out a cheats way to create the same effect. These are an item that I am so pleased with. The fabric is one that I already had found but knew that it would fit in nicely with the bits from Clarabelle Interiors
Now these beds were from a set of four that my parents had. They belonged to my brothers and my sister and I had two in a slightly different design, but they were the beds from our childhood. They were bare pine wood and I decided to paint them white which gave them a new lease of life just doing that. As they have a bit of wood work around the headboard I was able to make a cut out that would fit inside it. I then simply covered in wadding, stapled it around the back of the board then covered in the fabric and stapled. They fit into the wood work and are secured with sticky back Velcro. They are easy enough to make once Rob had cut the shape out for me to cover. That was slightly more fiddly. I love a staple gun too so attaching the fabric is more straight forward than you think!

With the grey stars and pink and blue furnishings, the only other items I wanted to have as furniture or decoration were going to be painted white. Their chest of drawers, bookcase and blanket box all got a fresh lick and Rob used his crazy amazing skills to make underbed storage boxes on wheels for their clothes so we didn't need any big wardrobes taking up floor space. These only cost the price of the wheels and handles as they were made from pallet wood! 

With beautiful finishing touches like their letters from Posh Graffitti and handmade art work to match from, Chellebelle, (a lovely little artist specialising in cutout art work) the children's room has turned out perfectly.
A beautiful space filled with two beautiful faces! 

If you would love to work with Clarabelle Interiors on bespoke pieces for you home, contact her via email or call the workshop.
I would also just like to say that the website offered all of her products for sale which you can buy easily but if you want more information contact her here.

We have:
Mini Bertie dog
Bertie cushion
Lamp Shades (you can commission your own from a choice of fabrics).
Boo rabbit sticker
Boy rabbit
Girl rabbit

Thank you to Claire for this wonderful opportunity to work together. I hope you have all enjoyed it!


*This has been a collaborative piece with Clarabelle Interiors.
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