Catch up!

Erm, so I haven’t been very good at blogging more often! I have made an effort to take more photos every day with every intention of blogging more but our internet has been completely poo for the past week and it’s so frustrating having the connection drop out every 5 minutes that we’ve been doing our work at quickly as we can and then putting the computers away because we were getting far too cross. I spoke to Sky this morning and hopefully they’re sorting it in the next 72 hours.

Huxley was really ill last night so we’ve got a day on the sofa today so I thought I’d try and catch up with what’s been happening.

Monday

Monday was a bit of a fail! My plan was to go to the local toddler play group but I ended up walking to completely the wrong place and it was nearly finished by the time I got to the right place! Oops! Silly mummy!

Tuesday

I had an important social media strategy proposal to write while Huxley was at nursery on Tuesday morning. When we picked him up we went straight to Stewarts garden centre to pick out a new plant for our lounge (which is now finished! Post coming soon!). Wasn’t the weather spectacular that day? We had some incredibly vibrant rainbows while we were eating dinner.

Stewarts Garden Centre BroomhillGruffalo watering canRainbowWednesday

I literally can’t remember what happened on Wednesday and I have no photos from that day so who knows?!?

Thursday

I had a client meeting on Thursday morning while Huxley was at nursery and then when I picked him up we walked across the park to feed the ducks. I’ll be honest, the ducks weren’t bothered in the slightest. Then we played pooh sticks on the bridge. Thursday night was spent babysitting our niece and nephew, Elsie and Hadley. It was so fun watching them all play together (if a little tiring!)

HuxLightBabysitting

Anyway, now that my internet connection is back up and running (for now!) I’m going to make myself a nice cup of tea and do a spot of online shopping. The new Autumn collections over at Esprit are looking particularly good. I’ve got my eye on a rather dashing wool plaid coat (here) and some ankle boots (here) and I’ve fallen for a couple of their kids bits too which will definitely be going on Huxley’s birthday list!

Autumn Wish List

As always, with the change of the weather comes the familiar itch to purchase new items for my wardrobe. This has only been confounded by the fact that summer was a complete and utter washout so there were lots of things I’d purchased that I never got to wear so I felt stripped of that ‘new outfit’ joy and too many things have been tucked away having not been worn yet. And to make matters worse, I don’t even have a holiday booked to look forward to wearing them in the future!

What with everything that’s been going on with the house and all the money it’s costing, I’ve been making the most of things like eBay, shopping catalogues* and charity shops to try and make my money go further. Catalogues with credit* have been a real saving grace for me right now and I’d imagine they will continue to be as Huxley’s birthday and Christmas looms near!

Of course, my winter wish list is filled with Autumnal tones to match all the pumpkin spiced lattes and colour-changing leaves as it always is. It’s funny though as I tend to do one of these every season and I can definitely see my style is changing. I made a wish list last Autumn and it’s WAY more girly than this one. I think I’m definitely coming to terms with the fact that I’m really not a ‘heels & sparkle’ girl at heart. I like clothes that I could get lost in the woods wearing.

 

Autumn 2015 Wish List

Top: New Look | Jacket: Mango | Hat: Passenger | Cape: Marks & Spencer | Shoes: Oasis | Dungarees: Zara | Jumper: Finisterre | Boots: Clarks

I realise I just claimed not to be a ‘heels & sparkle’ type girl and I definitely wouldn’t wear those glitter flats into the woods but they are JUST SO PRETTY I couldn’t possibly leave them out of this list. I can make some room for sparkle in my wardrobe for special occasions.

I think I could wear raglan tops every day for the rest of my life. I love the ease of being able to just stick one on and I feel really ‘me’ in them. I haven’t really tried out the dungaree trend and I’m not sure how I’d feel about having to nearly completely undress every time I need a wee but they just look so damn cool.

Passenger is a clothing company that’s local to me and I absolutely LOVE their style and stuff. They haven’t got a women’s line yet but I’m so tempted to buy this beanie. It comes in a lovely deep red colour too.

I’m totally ordering that M&S cape immediately after I click ‘publish’. I’ve been looking for something like this for AGES and I nearly ordered one from Nordstrom when I spotted this while researching this post.

Finisterre do some truly lovely clothes. If you get a second you should check out their website. One of my friends recently flew to Iceland with the gorgeous Sophie Hellyer to take all their A/W lookbook shots and they are STUNNING. He is so talented. Also, nothing kicks off winter quite like a new jumper.

And lastly, the Orinoco boots from Clarks. A trusty favourite. I already own a pair of these and I lived in them last winter (you can see when I first wore my Clarks boots in Winchester a few winters ago). The trouble is that I also lived in them whilst painting the house, stripping wallpaper, working in the garden etc so they are now looking a bit beaten and worn – which I don’t mind – but any excuse for a new pair of shoes right?

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Packing for our first family festival

At the weekend we are taking the plunge and attending our first ever festival as a family. As much as I am a little daunted by this prospect, I’m also pretty excited. I haven’t been to a festival for nearly 10 years (my last was Reading festival back in 2006 – hello Pearl Jam!) so I’m looking forward to experiencing that festival ‘vibe’ again.

This time we’re going to End of the Road festival. It will be nice to experience one of the more low-key festivals as Reading was a bit too rowdy for me and we ended up leaving on the Sunday night as people were setting fire to tents and it was getting a bit scary.

Our original plan was to buy a tent at the start of summer and then do a couple of test runs in the garden and maybe venture for a night out in the New Forest or something just to get Huxley used to the idea of sleeping outside. However, with Nick breaking his leg and the weather this year being pretty poo, it hasn’t happened. Luckily for us, End of the Road is only about 20 minutes away so if the weather turns out to be horrendous or Huxley really isn’t getting on in the tent, we can at least drive home and sleep in our beds each night without it being the end of the world.

So, to tie in with our trip, I thought I’d do a little post about what we’ll be taking with us this year and if any of you seasoned campers/festival goers have any last minute advice about extra things I might need then please do let me know!

Festival essentials

1. Bin bags - Totally unglamorous I know but definitely the kind of essential item that I’m bound to forget!

2. Favourite toy - With no prior experience of camping, it’s going to be important that Huxley feels as safe and comfortable as possible. We used to send him to nursery with his favourite Gruffalo mouse and he’d walk around holding it all day.

3. Suncream – Because you can get burnt even when it’s cloudy. Suncream is especially important for kids as they burn much faster than adults.

4. Waterproof jacket – Because we live in England! And even if the weatherman said it was going to be sunny I wouldn’t trust them!

5. Inflatable bed – We got Huxley this inflatable Gruffalo bed at Christmas so that he had somewhere to sleep when we stayed round people’s houses or went on holiday as he had outgrown the travel cot that we previously had. Hopefully this way he’ll be a bit warmer as he’ll be raised off the ground and I know he’ll be excited to sleep in it again.

6. Ear defenders - Because little ears can get damaged by loud music.

7. Wellies – I’ll be rocking my pink chicken-print Joules wellies all weekend. A decent pair of wellies* are essential because again, England.

8. Antibac gel – Because toddlers touch EVERYTHING. And festival loos are proper rank.

So, there’s my list. It’s clearly not definitive of everything we’ll be taking along with us, but it’s the things that are high on my priority list. Seriously, please let me know if there’s something I’ve forgotten or haven’t considered. I’m going to be such an obvious newbie! (And if you’re attending End of the Road Festival and happen to spot us then please say hello! We’ll be the couple arguing and wrestling a toddler!)

*This post contains a collaborative link

I am not special

I can’t sing. I can’t draw. I can’t play any instruments. I’m not funny. I can’t speak any languages. I can barely cook. My baking is mediocre at best. I’m pretty regular looking. I’m not fat. I’m not thin. I don’t have long glossy hair or big bouncy curls. I don’t have bright blue eyes or never-ending eyelashes. I don’t have shiny white teeth or a big beaming smile. I still can’t apply mascara properly and will probably never master eyeliner. I’m no good at make-up. Or doing my hair. I don’t have a particular ‘style’. I don’t do yoga. I’m not raw vegan. I can’t write poetry. I’ve travelled, but not enough to call myself a ‘traveller’. I have no special interests or burning passions. I don’t have a career. I live in a normal house in a normal town and live a pretty normal life.

I am not special. And do you know what? That’s okay.

One of the things I think I’ve learnt in my twenties is that it’s okay not to be the best, to earn the most, to wear the most stylish clothes, to be the prettiest or the skinniest, to have the biggest house, to drive the fastest car. I don’t want any of those things. I’m happiest walking around in the fresh air, breathing in the scent of flowers and forests, watching the clouds, listening to the birds, feeling the sun on my face, smiling into the breeze and not giving a damn what anyone thinks.

But do you know what? There’s one person that definitely thinks I’m special. And that makes it all worthwhile.

bubbles1Bubbles2Bubbles3Bubbles4Bubbles5

Summer boho wish-lyst

If you’ve been here for a while you’ll know about my slight obsession with creating dream outfits. Well, I’ve just discovered a new outlet for my obsession. Lyst* recently got in contact and asked if I’d like to give them a go. Seriously, I daren’t tell Nick how much time I’ve spent on there this morning – especially as half the house still needs painting!

You know it’s going to be good when the sign-up form only has 3 boxes. User centric design at it’s very best. (I used to work in UX a bit so things like this still make me very happy). Once you’ve signed up it asks you a series of ‘yes/no’ questions about which brands you like to try and get a good idea of your style. You can skip this bit if you’d prefer to just enter your favourite brands manually. All the latest items from the brands you’ve ‘followed’ will then show up on your homepage.

The best thing about Lyst is that it will alert you if one of your favourite items go on sale. Amazing. It will also hunts the online world to find an item for you if what you want is out of stock. Also amazing. The amount of times I’ve seen stuff on Pinterest or wherever only to spend hours trying to find it in stock somewhere. This happened a few years ago when I saw an Australian fashion blogger wearing my dream watch but couldn’t find it in stock anywhere in the UK. I’m still on the hunt now!

Anyway, in my time playing around with Lyst I’ve created a ‘Boho Style‘ board and a ‘Surf/Skate Style‘ board – feel free to check them out! I’m definitely trying to lean towards those kinds of ‘style’ now as I feel they are much more ‘me’. I’m always knocking around in jeans and a t-shirt. Skirts, dresses and heels are lovely but I’m just not that kind of person. Besides, it’s summer now and that always puts me in a ‘boho’ mood! I’ve always been a big fan of Vans, RVCA, Volcom and the like anyway.

Boho Style LystSkater Style Lyst

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My Monsoon Summer Wishlist

Today I’ve teamed up with Monsoon* to bring you my ultimate summer wishlist. How could I refuse the perfect excuse to sit around browsing their website for hours without Nick badgering me to do some painting or strip some wallpaper?!?

Monsoon is one of the few highstreet shops whose windows always make me take a second glance when I walk by. I think it’s to do with my love of all things embroidered since living in Mexico and they are the true highstreet kings of beautiful embroidered things – not to mention that nearly everything comes in navy which is my favourite colour to wear!

The other lovely thing about Monsoon is their strong values as they have a real focus on ethical trading, sustainability and they run a charity which helps over 10,000 disadvantaged women and children in Asia.

I’m seriously lusting after that bikini. It seems a shame to buy it though as it’s unlikely we’ll be going on holiday anywhere this year so it would be totally wasted as I’m the only one who would see it in my garden! Also, how do high-waisted bikini bottoms work from a tanning perspective?

Also, I cannot wait for the weather to be warm enough to wear patterned trousers. Comfiest clothing ever. It’s pretty much equivalent to wearing pyjama trousers all day. I’m so grateful they are completely socially acceptable.

 

My Monsoon Summer wishlist

Bag | Bikini top | Bikini bottoms | Trousers | Dress | Scarf | Sandals | White dress | Necklace | Sunglasses | Maxi dress |

See what I mean about the embroidery? That little black dress is AMAZING. And don’t even get me started on that bikini. Especially teamed with those cateye sunglasses. Retro pin-up perfection. I urge you to go and check out the rest of their offering for this season. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Spring lust list

Hasn’t the weather just been absolutely glorious lately? It’s made me realise just how much I dislike winter. It’s okay when it first begins and you get all excited about Pinterest pictures of snow and snuggly jumpers and pumpkin-spiced everything but once Christmas is done and dusted I want it to be spring straight away.

Thank goodness we’re out the other side and the clocks have changed! The lighter evenings really make all the difference. It’s made doing the house up a little easier too as it would have been miserable to have been working in the dark so much and there’s no way I’d have been as enthusiastic at the prospect of gardening in the frost.

The one thing I’m missing out on a little bit this year is that because of the house we’ve got no spare money at all. This means that any thoughts of shopping have to be put to the very back of my mind and I’ve been trying to avoid flicking through magazines or going anywhere near the shops in order to avoid temptation.

On top of this, because our house is down an un-made road, we’ve started to consider how much of a beating our poor car is going to get and have started talking about investing in a sturdier vehicle. I don’t think we really count as having an ‘average family car‘* – we probably don’t get caught in traffic for that long as we both work from home and Nick would definitely protest to saying that we get lost twice a year in the car!

So, to keep my urges at bay, I’ve been doing some pretend shopping on Polyvore and have collated my favourites pieces from the high street this season. You never know, maybe I’ll be able to snap them up second-hand on eBay next year!

Spring lust list

Jeans: New Look | Dress: Zara | Striped top: Warehouse | Red vest: Fat Face | White dress: Oasap | Floral dress: Boden | Bag: Accessorize | Skirt: Oasis

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Time to relax

To say we’ve been busy lately is a massive understatement. Thanks to the delays with our house purchase it means that our renovations have clashed with Nick having to drive to Gillingham four days a week to judge the Great Taste Awards. It’s so frustrating because we had bags of spare time in February and early March that could have been put to good use but now we’re trying to juggle it all at once and we’re running around like headless chickens half the time. We’re working until 10pm most nights (and on the days when Huxley hasn’t slept through the night we’re both ready to kill someone!)

I don’t want to be a sad-times Sally about it because we’ve got an awful lot done to the house given the time restrictions we’ve had but juggling Huxley, renovation work, actual money-making ‘billed’ work as we’re both self-employed and now Nick’s lack of time has been a pretty massive strain on us all.

To remedy this, we’ve been trying to maximise our relaxation time whenever possible. It really makes a difference to your state of mind if you can just sit quietly for even just 10 minutes a day.

I’ve been making Nick take time out to do yoga whenever possible as I know that as well as stretching his back out and helping his muscles, it also helps him to stay calm and focused mentally. I’ve also been making him listen to music while he’s working at the house as I think this lifts his spirits and takes the tension and seriousness out of the situation a little bit.

I’ve been trying to curl up with a cup of tea and a book for 20 minutes each day to give myself a rest but to be honest, a lot of the time I’m too tired to read and I find it just as relaxing to look out over the garden and do a bit of mental ‘filing’ where I can try and put all my thoughts in order. I’m having to decide what kind of bathroom and kitchen to buy and how I want our bedroom laid out while it’s still all a pile of rubble and it’s making my brain hurt!

Rob Ryan & Party Ring cushion from Flamingo GiftsTop: Miss Selfridge (old) | Jeans: Gap | Slippers: Next | Rob Ryan cushion & party ring cushion: c/o Flamingo Gifts (currently with 10% off everything and 1p delivery!)

Here’s some before and after shots of the house so you can see what a complete mess it is right now!

This is the kitchen. We’ve knocked the wall through to the dining room to make a big kitchen/diner. Check out the wallpaper!

Kitchen before

Kitchen afterThe bedrooms had to have all the plasterboard removed as they need insulating properly so we currently have no walls upstairs!

Bedroom before

Bedroom after

As you can see, we’ve got a long way to go yet!

 

Holiday planning – India

As well as planning a trip to Orlando in December this year, we’re also thinking of going away to India. I know they seem like two very extravagant holidays for someone who has just moved into a new house that needs completely renovating but we’ve both been saving hard for these trips for a few years now. The trip to India would be to celebrate Nick’s 30th which was in January but at the time we just went to London for a few days because we were waiting to exchange on our new house so we decided to put off the trip until later in the year when we were all more settled.

I’ve been to India before about 10 years ago and it was so fabulous. I was lucky enough to trek around the Himalayas, get lost in Delhi and marvel at the Taj Mahal. (Cue cringey photo…)

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This time around it will be slightly different because we’ll have Huxley with us. This is the main reason I’ve been searching for more luxurious holiday ideas and hotels in India* rather than the usual cheap-and-cheerful style of holiday that Nick & I usually go on! As lovely as India is, due to the noise & dustiness, it would be nice to be able to escape back into a clean, quiet hotel when the day is over. Once Huxley gets older I’m more than happy for him to experience India a bit differently but while he’s still so young, safety is my main priority.

There’s so many things I’m excited about that I don’t even know where to begin! The wildlife is definitely a big draw for us, especially after seeing how excited Huxley was at the zoo recently. When I was in India, I saw elephants just walking down the street and to see Huxley’s little face watch an elephant stroll past while he’s eating lunch would be worth it’s weight in gold. I’d also like to visit a tiger sanctuary, although I’ll be doing lots of research into which ones treat the animals properly and aren’t just dreadful, inhumane tourist attractions.

elephant

indian-tiger

Nick is always really keen to visit cities and ‘tick them off his list’ so as well as visiting Delhi, I think we’d travel around a little bit and try and see some other places around the country. Jaipur is only 4.5 hours drive so maybe we’d try and get the train down there or something. As well as seeing the Hawa Mahal, it would be great to try out some of Rajahstan’s regional street food to see how it differs from that in Delhi.

hawa mahal

street-food-at-sojati-gate-images-photos-52417dcbe4b0a843462ece9d

While in Delhi, we’d be silly not to make the trip to the Taj Mahal. Although I’ve been before I certainly wouldn’t mind going again as it was so serene and peaceful there. It was quite funny actually because we were one of the few groups of western tourists there. I expected the place to be packed with western backpackers but it was mostly full of locals or Indian tourists. In fact, we stuck out so much that several of us got collared by groups of Indians asking to have their pictures taken with us, which led to several embarrassing situations of being partnered up with other people from my group and asked to hold babies while photos were taken! It was so bizarre!

india-taj-mahalWhile Nick is always keen to see the hustle and bustle of cities, I’m always badgering him to get out into the countryside a bit more. When we went to Japan, we only visited Tokyo and I wish we’d made the trip out into the hills as I think it would have been much more relaxing. I’d love to travel around the countryside in India a bit more as it’s such a huge and diverse country that I feel we’d be missing out if we just stuck to the cities. I’d love to visit a tea plantation.

India-sceneryHave you ever been to India? Where do you want to visit on your next ‘big’ birthday?

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Holiday planning – Orlando

In December, Nick’s cousin is getting married at Disney World in Florida. I’ve been saving up for it for about 2 years now and it’s safe to say that I’m pretty excited about it. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that Nick & I are obsessed with America and have been to 17 states so far. Neither of us have visited Florida before so we’re excited to have the opportunity to explore somewhere new.

As it’s drawing closer I’ve been glued to my computer searching for florida flights to see how the price fluctuates throughout the year. I keep reading things about ‘last-minute’ flights not being cheaper anymore but I’m yet to see any evidence of that. From what I can gather, it’s about £500 cheaper to fly into Orlando*’s lesser known airport of Sanford (and it’s direct!) than the main airport that most people fly into. It’s a little further away but I think it’s worth it when you’re saving that much!

Here’s the top 5 things I’m most excited about:

harryBeing a huge Harry Potter fan, this is obviously top of my list for a trip to Orlando. I’ve visited the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London and it’s awesome but it doesn’t have rollercoasters.

cuban sandwich

I’m a little ashamed to admit that this very nearly beat Harry Potter to the number one spot as the main reason that Nick & I travel is to eat. How much do you want a cuban sandwich right now? Look at that picture! We’re desperate to eat one of these, especially after watching the film Chef not so long ago.

typhoon lagoon

Huxley is only going to be two years old when we go so he’ll be a bit young for a lot of the rollercoasters in the parks. One thing we will be able to all enjoy together is the water parks. I’m particularly excited about Typhoon Lagoon and the lazy river ride. Doesn’t that just look like the pinnacle of relaxation.

Kissimmee airboat rides

Not technically in Orlando, but only a 30-minute drive away is Kissimmee where you can take an airboat ride over the Everglades. This just looks like so much fun and I can just imagine Huxley with a little helmet and life jacket on squealing his head off with excitement as the wind blasts him as we speed around!

Blue Springs State Park Again, not technically Orlando but only a 40-minute drive is Blue Springs State Park where you can swim in the natural pools or watch the manatees. Unfortunately swimming with the manatees is not permitted. You can also go fishing, camping, hiking and canoeing here or take a boat tour.

Have you been to Orlando? What activities would you recommend?

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