Thursday, 26 May 2016

A Family Wedding

A family wedding is always a wonderful time for celebration. My Brother got married recently and we all travelled north to celebrate with family and friends.
I find weddings are one of the most romantic events for Rob and I to reflect on our own marriage. Not that we ever say anything to each other about it but through the wedding services I find myself looking at him and smiling in almost affirmation as I hear the vows being said and truly appreciate the words with regard to our marriage.
I suppose in the moment, as bride and groom, it is so hard to truly understand the words you are stating until you are in situations during your marriage. Standing before each other and declaring your love and support through all hardships and joys is a moment that you probably think, yes, of course I will do this for my spouse, but it isn't until the years after that day when you will find these vows being tested and used as you work through life.
I love being reminded of them at weddings, thinking about how Rob and I have done this, how we work through and support each other in sufferings and celebrate each other in joys. It is wonderful being reminded of this with family, as well and remembering that all the stresses beforehand and during the build up to this big day can be washed away as you all realise that the most important part of this is that moment when you say 'I do' and you become part of a team. A team in your marriage and a team as a family as two groups of people merge to form one powerful group to support and love for the rest of your days.
Congratulations Fred and Sarah, the family is growing and it is now a joy to have more 'brothers and sisters' to share happy times with.


By the way, this photo is only of my parents and 7 siblings with partners and our children.


Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Bedtimes with GLTC: Testing Team Review

100% cotton is definitely one of the things I look for on bedding labels when it comes to purchasing new bed linen and with the children sharing a room, colour and print style also come pretty high up on the list of importance. I would normally just stick to plain white bedding; it is easy to get hold of, washes well and just keeps the beds looking fresh. Every so often though it is nice to change to something a little more child centred. It is their room after all, so being able to add colour is an important thing to do for them.

I have spoken about Raphael's lovely Grey Star bedding before. It is a beautiful simple print that would suit any child and matches his grey and white room well. I was struggling for some coloured bedlinen for Etta, being very picky myself, only to not waste money on items that I don't really want. I had been waiting to see if GLTC were going to bring out a 'girls' range that was softer in shade to some of their others. Well now they have in the form of this beautiful pink scallop design. And what a pretty set it is!

You know me, you know what I like; soft simple, matchy and with the kids sharing a room they have to compliment each other and that is where GLTC get it so right. So many of their ranges can complement each other and can be mixed and matched which makes my job easier.
Creating a happy home is what they believe they can achieve with their products and I know their things are making our home design very happy indeed!

The details: like I said, these are 100% cotton bed sheets. They wash very well, don't bobble, don't loose colour and I never iron bedlinen if I don't have to, but depending on your own techniques of drying (we use airers and the washing line) you might want to give it a press but creases drop out after a couple of days. As far as our Testing Team roles work, our review of these is just simply beautiful, I love them, the kids love them and they look beautiful against their white beds and grey coloured room.


*This post is in collaboration with GLTC as part of our Testing Team role.

Celebrating Julia Donaldson with Great Little Trading Co.

Like most parents I really enjoy making our children's library. Buying books every so often to add to our shelves brings me so much joy. That feeling of picking and flicking through books in the shop before you decide which lucky ones might grace your shelves and become a part of your children's collection is quite magical really.

It is hard to say which children's book is my favourite, but one I have been reading to children for years, even before I read it to my own children was The Gruffalo. My favourite type of book is a rhyming one and when Julia Donaldson released it, it was on our bookshelves when I lived at home over 10 years ago. It was a family favourite which was read to my younger siblings for a long time. I loved reading it to children at school as well; it was always so captivating and to be quite honest, I don't know anyone who doesn't like it! The following collection of books by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler were just as good, continuing on with that fantastic rhyming style and illustration. 

Recently Macmillan Publishers have released 8 of their books with fresh covers making them look like a wonderful, shiny, new collection to have on your shelves.  

If I am not careful, collecting all these books will make me need more storage to hold them all. Luckily GLTC is on hand for that. Their extensive range of furniture and storage will make my home organised and spacious instead of feeling like "a squash and a squeeze". And that is something that GLTC pride themselves on. Making a happy home, an organised home and a place where memories can be made.
I love this stacking toy box; carting it around with whatever the children want in it makes play or a reading session pretty easy. I love how easy and clean looking all the GLTC storage ideas are, making them have something to match most decor needs. For us, simple white that is nice and roomy is all I am looking for and this is perfect! 


*Post in collaboration with GLTC and Macmillian.

Striped Raincoats from Joules (Steal Our Style)

I must say, one coat that I am seriously enjoying wearing at the moment in rain or shine is my Joules striped mac. It is one of my favorite pull ons to be quite honest as I find it goes with pretty much everything I own. I love just pulling it on with a tee and jeans making school morning dressing pretty quick and easy. What's more exciting is the fact that my little mini-me gets to have one too as Joules also brought out a girls waterproof rubber coat which is amazingly wipeable for all marks and very, very pretty looking. 

I am also wearing:
(FYI the coat is in the sale!)

Etta wore:
Clarks trainers

You would definitely spot us around town!


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Growing our own Produce with Rocket Gardens!

Sometimes when shops give away goodie bags when you spend a certain amount, I would often briefly look to see if there was anything of real value but probably not pay much attention to the rest. It can often just be a form of advertisement which is fine, but I wouldn't offer much time to it. However, when I went to Bath with Joules and received a goodie bag, in which there was a pair of socks (value) and a Rocket Gardens leaflet, I did my usual and just packed it into a pile and left it for nearly a week before I looked at it properly. I am so glad I did look at it again as inside was a voucher code for a free box of vegetable plants to grow in your own garden. I obviously signed up for it and within a couple of weeks I got my box of tiny plants ready to go into our soil and produce a wealth of 'free food' over the summer.

What a fantastic free gift! 
So a box of these plants arrived and I pretty much got planting straight away! Unfortunately our boarder that is used for planting is full of flowers so I had no choice but to plant in pots. I wouldn't normally use pots as our soil is amazing for growing in, but with all these little plants needing to go somewhere I used all my Kew Garden pots and a few extras to divide the plants up.
After they all ran out though, our wonderful neighbours stepped in and offered us some of their veg patch to grow on. I was so thankful. So there we were; Etta, Jan and I planting up a host a vegetables in pots and in the ground ready for harvesting when grown. 

Thank goodness, for Jan's knowledge on growing plants, too. Unfortunately. I am one of those people who is a little lazy when it comes to gardening. I like no fuss, so plants that need water are as far as I go! Obviously then, growing produce there is a lot more to take into consideration. Drainage, light, pests wanting to eat the leaves, everything that I never think of when gardening! Etta really enjoyed her company too as she was showing her how to plant potatoes and how to use bamboo sticks to support our beans and tomatoes. We both learned a lot!

With everything planted up, our Rocket Garden will hopefully bring our neighbours and us many happy summer meals together and will allow our children to get a lot of enjoyment in seeing how and where food comes from. 
I am so glad I didn't throw out this voucher, what a fantastic gift!

Are you green fingered? What are you growing for your summer table?


Monday, 23 May 2016

The practice of pocket money.

Pocket money is a weird one. I have got fed up of the constant "Can I have this?" when we go to town or the supermarket and trying to explain just "no" to a 2 and 4 year old just makes a conversation go round in circles with no real result except the child saying, "maybe next time." No, not next time, just not at all!
Rob and I have a conversation about how you start the notion of pocket money. Do you pay the kids for tidying up? No, they should tidy up for free if they are making the mess! What about helping out in a way they wouldn't usually? Sorting washing or laying the table? Again, aren't these just good manners and an enjoyable way for the kids to help you? It isn't a paid privilege to just be a nice person. We want to instill that helping is an act of love and kindness and not something you do for a reward.  

So how do we let the children have money that they feel they have earned to spend on trips to the supermarket so they feel they have worked hard for something? Well, we have decided to find an area in their life that is a challenge and then practising the challenge gets rewarded!
For us, sleep has always been an issue and staying in bed until their GrowClock tells them they can get up is certainly a challenge. We decided that as they don't know the value of coins (yet) they can get 3 coins for staying in bed all night until the sun on their clock is up. Is it working? With Raph, yes and everyday is another achievement for him. After doing it for 3 days I decided to nail down what we were doing; I put a few extra coins in their piggy banks and we decided to go to the shops so they could see that the money they get can be spent on what they want. 

This was such a fantastic experience for them as we sat and counted out the money they had and I then wrote it on a bit of paper so they could compare it to price tags and we could talk about having more or less than what was needed. 
We headed straight to the fancy dress section in Tesco, as I knew from another shopping trip with Etta that she had her eye on an Ariel dress. As soon as Raph saw the Iron Man costume (not that he actually knows who Iron Man is) he was excitedly asking if he could get it. We really hammered down that he could use "His" money if he had enough! He did with a sub from Rob but I wanted them to understand that their own money could get them nice things, so this first experience had to be clear to them. They took them over to the cashier who said all the right things and was so patient with counting out their bags of coins. There were a lot of 5p and 2p coins! But they cooed in all the right places and congratulated them for earning the money; it couldn't have gone better!

They were very pleased with their purchases and both of them fully understand that they have to use their money. When out with Etta this week, she asked, "Can I have that" which I just reponded by telling her she needs to sleep in bed and get her money, then she can have what she wants. 
Our bedtime issues are what we use for now, but as they grow out of them it can change to homework tasks or anything where they need a small reward for trying at something.

They were so happy with these suits, I wonder what it will be this week as they have earned significantly less and the bank of dad will not bail them out this time!


Thursday, 19 May 2016

The kindness of strangers.

When I went to one of my Zumba sessions this week with my new blonde hair, I was really surprised that another attendee came up to me just to say how fantastic I looked. I was totally blown away! She also told me that she likes to stand behind me in the class, as I danced so stylishly (She was being way too kind at this point) and that she hadn't recognized me at first and could't believe just how amazing me new hair looked on me! Compliments like that, from the heart always mean so much. For someone to come over to me, out of their way when they could just go home and say nothing, and to take the time to tell me how nice I look is such a wonderful thing to do. I was so thankful, what a kind lady! It got me reflecting on how often I don't say things to people who I don't know, maybe it's nerves or maybe I just feel it is inappropriate but I so often walk past women and think, wow, they look amazing and never say anything! I am going to change this, I am going to pass on my kind thoughts as you never know just how it may change someone's outlook about themselves and totally brighten up their day!


Friday, 13 May 2016

Love Your Little Home: Storage Solutions

I touched on this in the very first post I wrote for this series about how I try to live a clutter-free life. I always make sure we don't have piles of stuff lying around enabling more things to just get piled on top. It's really important to try and house the things that end up just being left out. Having rooms in a house like a utility or laundry room, home office, separate living rooms and spaces where a lot of people would be able to delegate products to are not something we have. This is why it is so important for us to be on top of good storage. 
Most of the time the main things family homes want to hide or have a space for are toys, clothes, laundry, shoes, coats, hoovers, printers, ironing boards etc. For us, we have all stated and more!! 
Most of our storage solutions have been down to Rob's handy skills with wood and screws! He has built some great storage easily which helps keep everything in order around here.

Downstairs we keep all the kids shoes, coats, family scarfs, gloves and hats and things like swimming gear all in one side board. This obviously wasn't made by Rob but I did pick it up from a charity shop, sanded it down and painted it. It has one shelf running through, so the two levels fits all of the above on.

When we extended the house, Rob converted alcoves that were in the original wall into two huge cupboards. One cupboard houses our DVD player, all DVDs, all CDs, CD player, kids craft, large toys and board games. The other has anything from casserole dishes, recipe books and home trinkets to my sewing machine, the ironing board and the hoover. They are lovely and deep and by installing big shelves we have been able to store lots in them. They are full though and need a sort to get rid of things we haven't used in the last year. That is a good rule to have; not used in a year, do you need it?

Moving upstairs, most of the storage up there is for clothes. We have tried to avoid having wardrobes as they take up lots of room, so the children each have all there clothes in 3 under bed wheelie crates Rob made. They then have a chest of drawers which has socks, pants and pjs in. This also doubles up as a bedside table and is placed between the two beds.

Their room also has an original feature cupboard recessed in the wall so we have all travel bags, suitcases in there, Rob's formal suits and all our coats. We also have random things like baby shoes that I don't want to get rid of and my wedding dress.

In the spare room Rob made another under bed storage box. This one was out of some shelves that were on the wall and we took down, added a base and wheels and now use it for random old baby things like their red books, keepsakes like memory boxes and my work props.
Having things away under beds and not on desks has made a big difference to our storage habits. Being able to put things away is important, but that 'out of sight, out of mind' saying does become quite true. It does however help in being ruthless with what you keep when you eventually look in the drawers. 

Our room is a converted attic so in one of the eves Rob built a cupboard the whole length of the room, so behind where our clothes hang we have all general attic stuff like Christmas decorations, baby clothes, our childhood keepsakes and so on.

Across one of the other eves in our room, Rob built a shelf which houses 3 low boxes to the width of the room with things like towels, bedding, seasonal soft furnishings, spare bedding, sleeping bags, air mattresses, gift wrapping paraphernalia, the fancy dress trunk and other things that you collect in a home and try to hide away as you don't want to get rid. Luckily a pretty curtain helps to hide it all and made it a very easy way to make more storage.

Gosh this post seems so long, but I wanted to show how good storage works in a little family home!
Comment with any questions!

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