Thursday, 26 March 2015

bloggers at home: abigail and the future

I'm really happy to be back today with another Bloggers at Home post; this time I'm chuffed to be featuring the lovely Abigail from Abigail and the Future, and her heavenly lounge full of pastels and books (a winning combination in my eyes!) I started reading Abigail's blog a while back, and have always been in awe of her incredibly beautiful photography; she manages to nail that coveted balance between dreamy and realistic every single time, and her little family make the perfect subjects. One to add to the reading list for sure!

We bought our first house last summer, and to say it needed some TLC is an understatement. We'd only lived in rented houses before, and were itching to have our own place where we could rip unsightly woodchip paper off of the walls and yank up old carpets - which we did with glee on the first few days without really thinking it through that we'd have to live with untreated floors for months. Whoops!

Our living room is small but central to the house, and was a bit of a dumping ground while we sorted out the other rooms. The walls were painted a horrible yellow and there was a worn carpet covering the floor; I had dreams of ripping the carpet up and finding perfect floorbards, but unfortunately they were stained dark and not great at all.

We lived with re-plastered walls and those horrible floorboards for a while, until I'd had enough and demanded that we finally decorate - we went with pastel pink walls and white floorboards after spending probably too much time on Pinterest!

It's been a slow progress since then, adding bits and pieces here and there, but I feel like it's finally coming together. Most of our furniture is second hand bar the sofa and table; I love our Ercol style dining chairs that were handed down, second-hand armchair from Gumtree and the sideboard which was handmade by my father-in-law. An antique pine bookcase holds our novels, whilst our new shelves from IKEA hold some favourite photography books, graphic novels and a small amount of vintage cameras from my collection.

I love it when rooms and possessions tell stories and provide a glimpse into peoples personalities and lives - I hope that over time ours will continue to hld our favourite and treasured things!

Huge thanks to Abigail for taking part in the Bloggers and Home series; you can catch up with her at Abigail and the Future, or get her over on Twitter or Instagram

Friday, 20 March 2015

frugal friday: funky kids shoes for under £25

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that last weekend, we took the kiddos out to get some new shoes; Ben needed new school shoes, and Daisy just needed something that wasn't wellies, so we trudged off to Clarks to get their feet measured. The whole experience was an utter nightmare; Ben is autistic, and finds shopping overstimulating - there's way too much to see and too much going on for his brain to contend with, and he just goes into overdrive. Daisy is two, and behaves like a typical two-year old; touching things, throwing things, wanting things, screaming for things..... the pinacle of the day was when she decided to lay down on the floor in H&M and refuse to move. On the plus side though, we found some great shoes for both of them; Clarks are absolutely killing it with their sneaker range at the moment, and Zara were as fantastic as usual - they have trainers that look like flamingos. Flamingos!

1. Glitter sneakers and printed sneakers, both at Clarks, £22 and £24
2. Fringed Boots at H&M, £17.99
3. Navy Buckle Shoes by Little Bird at Mothercare, £15
4. Flamingo Trainers at Zara, £22.99
5. Lightning Bolt Hi-Tops at H&M, £14.99
6. Leather Sandals at Zara, £22.99

This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, 19 March 2015


The day we got married was the hottest of the year so far; 3rd July 2010, I remember the sweat trickling down my back (yum) as I walked up the aisle to the sound of the Wannadies. We've never had much money; we don't earn a great deal, and we're not great at saving either, so everything was done on a strict budget. My dress was £200 from eBay (never worn, it still had the tags attached - the previous owner had bought two as she couldn't decide between them), the Husband's wedding suit came from Paul Smith, where I worked at the time (skinny fit blue cord, I still love it now!), the flowers were from a local silk flower mill and we had a buffet at a country pub. The wedding cake consisted of three layers bought from Asda, stacked precariously by my Mum and I and then decorated with sugar hearts and flowers, and we did little bags of sweets as favours. It was a fuckload of work, but we managed to do everything for £2,000, then went home at the end of it all, watched Paranormal Activity and ate fish and chips. Then we went to Brighton for three days for our honeymoon.

Images: Left, right

I have some lovely memories from the day, but there's a nagging thought in the back of my brain that it wasn't quite what I wanted. I'd always dreamed of getting married in the church where I was christened, and we passed it up at the time because it was so much more money - but now we're a bit more stable financially, we've decided to have a blessing and a little celebration afterwards. I'm not repeating the long, white dress thing - this time I'm going for something fifties style (oooh, in mint green maybe!), and we're going to have our little celebration outdoors afterwards. I'm aiming to grow the flowers in the garden, make the cake myself and serve everything on my own vintage plates (packs of buffet food from Waitrose or M&S, fresh fruit and fairy cakes!) - and if we don't manage it before, we might even get the kids christened at the same time. Three birds, one stone!

I've got pretty clear ideas about how I want everything to look; minimal fuss and minimal effort - basically, just a giant party. The only thing I've been stumped with so far is the invitations; for our wedding, I printed out the words and then inserted them into little cards with illustrations of teacups on. Simple, quick and effective. But this time, I'm not really sure what to do; it's not a wedding, so what do you write inside? Do I need to send save-the-date cards? Do you even send invitations, or should I just create a Facebook event?! I'm a bit of a stationary geek, so I definitely want to send something - the lovely folks at have a great range which you can add your own artwork and lettering to really easily, and I'm quite tempted to have a go at that. To be honest, I can't be bothered don't have time to sit and faff about with layouts, so the thought of just uploading a file and then adding the text is like a dream come true. Plus, they have about a gazillion different cardstocks and finishes, and fantastical options like printing on both sides of the invite - something my knackered printer just can't seem to get to grips with!

Lastly, now we've decided to actually get on with saving and planning, the first thing I did was make a Pinterest board (duh!) to keep track of everything. If you're already a follower - sorry in advance for all the wedding spam coming your way!

Monday, 16 March 2015

february in pictures

When I posted 'January in pictures', I said that we'd not been up to much because we'd all been ill and the weather had been bad. February has just come to an end (thank GOD!) and we still haven't done much because.... we've all been ill and the weather was bad. 2015, so far, you suck.

Still, we did get a few chances to potter about and discover new places to eat and get coffee, as well as visiting some old favourites. The kiddos spent some time crafting, I finished my favourite magazine feature so far and it was my birthday, so not all bad.

Halfway through March, and the weather is starting to pick up down South; we've had some sunny (and dare I say it, warm-ish) days, and I've just received all my seeds for the garden this year. I'm doing mainly flowers, with some veg thrown in for good measure - nothing too taxing; the last two years have kind of taught me what does and doesn't do well in our garden, so there's less guesswork now. I'm particularly excited about planting a glorious bucket of sweetpeas given to me by a friend for my birthday; they're my favourite flower to grow, as they just give you so much. I'm also working on my first big crochet commission, which is why there are (even) less blog posts than usual, but I've got some craft tutorials lined up for the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned!

I'm teaming up with the lovely Fritha and Lori for the Style in your City linkup this week. Come and join in! 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

sunday style: top picks for spring

I haven't done a Sunday Style for a few weeks, but I've been doing some browsing over the last few days and there are SO MANY lovely things about at the moment. I do way more eBay and charity shopping than I do buying new (partly due to necessity, partly for environmental reasons and partly because I do love a good bargain), but there are a few things that have gone on my wishlist for Spring.
I've been searching for flat, gold slingbacks for a few years, after seeing some on someone else (it's been so long, I can't even remember where), and now Boden have bought out these gorgeous lovelies. I have no idea where I'd wear them, because I'm way more of a sneakers or chunky shoe type of girl, but I'm trying to go outside my comfort zone a bit with clothes at the moment. Plus, they'd look great with skinnies and a vintage blouse!
I love coloured trousers, and these ones from Fashion Conscience are a really lovely shade for Spring; despite being fair trade, they're still only £33 in the sale. I love Fashion Conscience; there are some really lovely, unique things on there which are all ethically produced, and don't have silly price tags either.
New Look are one of the first places I look when I'm looking for something new; they're really budget-friendly and tend to have some quite quirky bits if you look hard enough. I missed their denim dress last year, but I'm determined not to make the same mistake this year - I love denim, and it's so simple that it'd be a great base for a fancy necklace. Plus, it's got pockets!

From Left:

1. Boden
Favourite Cropped Cardigan - £45.00
Florence Skirt in Multi Seaside - £59.00
Polly Point Shoes in Gold Metallic - £79.00
Canvas Shopper in Multi Mini Hexagon - £19.00

2. Fashion Conscience
Petra Semi-Sheer Vest (since sold out, but there are plenty similar)
Komodo Fair Trade Sustainable Trousers - £33.00 reduced from £55.00
Veja Organic Sneakers - £68.00

3. New Look
Blue Denim Tunic Dress - £25.00
White Leather T-Bar Sandals - £25.00
Fringed Mini Duffel Bag - £16.00
Cat Eye Retro Sunglasses - £5.99

This post contains affiliate links

Friday, 13 March 2015

found: the common thread collective

Every now and then, the blogging planets align, and you'll find yourself put in touch with an individual or company who are doing something so good, that you just want to shout, 'YES!' and do an air punch. This is pretty much what happened when I (virtually) met Alicia from the Common Thread Collective.

The Common Thread Collective are doing so many good things that I just want to high five them, like, all the time; set up to empower women to rise above poverty, they work in Africa to provide education and training to women who have previously either been trafficked or sold into prostitution, giving them back the lives they deserve.
From the community and education centre in Uganda, the team offer local women the chance to learn skills that will help them become self-sufficient and lead happy and healthy lives; students can enrol on programmes in clothing and accessory design, tailoring, needlework, English, maths, geometry and writing, giving them both practical and academic knowledge. Each student also receives a hot meal, clean water, healthcare, sanitation classes, mentorship and financial training, AND all the fabrics used in the classes come from either women-owned stalls at the local market, or are hand woven and dyed at a weaving cooperative for women with AIDS.

I was lucky enough to grab some time with Alicia to ask her all about the project, and how she got involved.

How did you first hear about the Common Thread Collective, and what made you decide you wanted to be involved?
I heard about the CTC from a stylist friend I have who is also involved, and the premise of the organisation was the perfect fit for my hobbies and interests - so I was immediately drawn! The CTC isn't like other Fair Trade organisations that focus on consumerism and selling a line; we're a fashion trade school focused on facilitating personal growth and establishing a career. Our work is based on empowering women with fashion being the tool, not just selling a product. Fashion contributed heavily to my own personal growth and career development, so I felt I could really relate to the goals of the CTC. Plus, I love that in addition to fashion-related training, we also provide meals and school for the students children, medical care, basic education and even career mentorship!

What does your work with the CTC involve?
My work with the CTC is all-encompassing! I lead outreach and fundraising, as well as curriculum and product development. As a board member, I'm involved in most aspects, big and small.

What is your favourite thing about working with the CTC?
My favourite part has to be knowing that I'm helping to make a real difference to the lives of these women and their families; if it weren't for the CTC, the fate of some of them doesn't bare thinking about. Many of our students have 3rd grade education levels, and have become prositutes out of sheer desperation - they had been forced to take their children out of school and put them to work to bring in money; the CTC is working to change all of that.

Are you involved with any other causes or activism?
I have been involved in other community arts and fashion organisations, but nothing as global as the CTC. Outside of fashion, I've been an animal rights activist for many years.

Currently, the Common Thread Collective are have got an IndieGogo campaign running; a non-profit organisation, all funds come from donations, and in order to help more women reclaim their lives, they need extra help themselves. With a variety of rewards available, contributors can donate to help the project and receive anything from an embroidered tote bag to a cookbook and handsewn apron; the best news is that yesterday one super-generous person donated $1000, and has promised to match any other contributions made between now and the end of the campaign. It ends on March 17th at midnight, so you've only got a little while left to get involved; donate, share and spread the word via Facebook or Twitter, to help empower women and give them back their lives.

For more information, head to the Common Thread Collective website, check out the blog or pop over to the IndieGogo campaign page to make a donation.

Huge thanks to Alicia and the Common Thread Collective for taking the time to help me put this feature together, and for their kind gift of the beautiful handsewn goods. 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

five top tips for gender-neutral kids rooms

We finally ordered the kiddos bunks the other day, after weeks and weeks of deliberation; we looked at some really nice contemporary ones, but they tended to be really high and quite chunky, and we wanted as much space for playing as possible. In the end we went with these ones from Argos (good old Argos!), which were quite reasonably priced and still quite modern-looking. I worked out that I've been thinking (and blogging - err, sorry!) about the subject of shared gender-neutral bedrooms for a good few months now, so I thought I'd put all of my research to good use and make a list of my top ten tips on putting together a unisex bedroom for littlies. Hopefully someone will find them helpful!

For us, space to be creative was one of the most important things to consider. Images: left via here, right.
1. Consider the Space
Start planning the room by working out exactly how much space you have, then think about what you definitely want to put in there. For us, space to play, read and be creative is hugely important, so we definitely need a good amount of clear floor area, book storage which is accessible for both a six-year-old and a three-year-old and a large-ish table for making a mess creating beautiful works of art. Once you've decided how much space you have to play with, you can make a decision on beds; we went for bunks purely as a space-saving option, but I also like the idea of them both having their own little private area to hide away in. Plus, curtains around both beds make great instant dens!

We've opted for pretty plain bedding, and some great printed cushions. Images: left via here, right.

2. Keep it Neutral
I've spent loads of time drooling over cool geometric patterned duvet covers, lusting after multicoloured rugs and looking longingly at chevron curtains, but then when I imagined it all together I just got a headache. One vibrant quilt cover in a small space is great, two - not so much. We decided to keep it calm with subtly printed bedding (the same for both beds - this makes the room look bigger), a fairly plain rug (how amazing is that triangle one below from Molly Meg?!) and the minimalist bunks, and then add in colours with books stored on front-facing shelves (like the gorgeous 'Seasons' by Blexbolex), a few floor cushions and some quirky soft toys.

Carpetright have developed a range of great-looking contemporary vinyl flooring, which we love.

3. Think about the Floor
At the moment, we have beige carpets in both bedrooms, and the thought of two small children dropping crayons / felt pens / play doh / biscuits on it brings me out in hives. We've considered wood and laminate, but recently saw that Carpetright have a really good line of vinyl flooring; I always thought vinyl was only any good in the kitchen or bathroom, and just came in dull marbled patterns, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's available in about a gazillion different styles. We're quite taken with the white wooden Scandi-style floorboard designs - bright, light and easy to clean, perfect for a room with two messy lively kiddos!

Geometrics are a good way to make unisex storage a bit more exciting. Images: left, right.

4. Be Clever with Storage
This is the one we haven't quite got to grips with yet; there's already an IKEA wardrobe that fits all their clothes and most of their toys, but there's the issue of the ever expanding lego collection, a library-sized collection of books and Daisy's backpack collection to think about. We've chosen some simple metal and woven baskets from H&M Home and IKEA for toys, and we're going to put up lots of string shelves for Ben's books, while Daisy's will sit in front-facing racks, also on the wall (I'm even thinking of hanging some shelves in the deep window recesses!). The main aim is to keep as much stuff off of the floor as possible, so they both have room to spread out at the same time.

Lighting needs a lot of thought, especially if you've got children of different ages. Images: Left, centre, right.

5. Be Smart with Lighting
I think lighting is one of the most important things to think about, apart from the beds; Daisy is three and once she goes to bed, she goes to sleep, while Ben is six and likes to spend time playing on the tablet or reading - he also obviously goes to bed a bit later than her as well. There's already a main light in there, and I'm planning on putting a lamp with a low-wattage energy-saving bulb on a shelf beside the top bunk so Ben can read before he goes to sleep (if we owned the house, I'd get a wall light put in). We've got a great mint green anglepoise from Wayfair which is probably going to go on the shared desk area, and we're also thinking about getting a floor lamp - although considering some of the wrestling matches that take place, I'm not quite sold on this idea!

For a bit more inspiration, I've included a little collage below of everything we've either bought or are intending to buy - Ben is particularly taken with the 'Simon' soft toy, and I'm pretty excited about getting the curtains for the bunks made!

1. Bunkbeds by Argos
2. Simon and Susanne Dolls by My Name is Simone from The Pippa and Ike Show
3. Arrow Wall Flag by Ferm Living from The Pippa and Ike Show
4. Cloud Cushion from Ikea
5. Bedding from H&M Home
6. Seasons Book by Blexbolex from The Pippa and Ike Show
7. Triangle Rug by Ferm Living from The Pippa and Ike Show
8. Light Switch Faces by Henrietta Swift from The Pippa and Ike Show
9. Summer Constellation Map by Mr Printables
10. Wire Basket from H&M Home
11. Paper Seal Balloon from Petra Boase

This is a collaborative post.
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