Thursday, 27 March 2014

on plants

We visited Petersfield Physic Garden at the weekend; tucked back from the busy high street, unless you bothered to stop and read the sign, you'd never in a million years guess this little green haven was even there. We were greeted by a carpet of daffodils, shoots and buds everywhere, and a sundial that captured Ben's heart completely ("and, you can tell the actual time!") - admittedly, being early Spring, it's still a little bare, but it's easy to see what an amazing place it'll be once Summer takes hold.

We're doing some things around the house again; stripping back, trying to get a more simple and clean look. Over the last couple of years, I've found myself tiring of being surrounded by jumble and longing for a bit more simplicity (and, truth be told, I'm a bit fed up with all the fiddly dusting that goes with having lots of things around). We have a lot going on at the moment, and I'd like my home to be somewhere that feels calm and peaceful - as it stands, I often feel like I'm about to be crushed by a tidal wave of 'stuff'. I want more plants, more natural materials and fabrics, with a little vintage and some colour thrown in for good measure - I want everything to look like it belongs together, rather than it looking like it appeared there by accident.
I've been pinning LOADS of plant-based images on Pinterest, and have become slightly obsessed with houseplants and planning for our little patio area. We're going to have plants literally everywhere - stacked up on old shelves (we have plenty, thanks to my skip diving antics last year), in crates, in tins, in tiny pots and huge ceramic planters, both inside and out. Life is always good if you're surrounded by nature!

Left: via Apartment Therapy and right: via Jaclyn Campanaro, who is the most INCREDIBLE photographer.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

DIY Collar Clips - Guest Post at Tigerlilly Quinn

Apologies for the unexpected absence; I haven't been very well over the last few days, and I've had a lot of work on which meant no time for blogging, and a bit too much time for watching back-to-back Breaking Bad episodes. I'm not going to lie - when I feel like I've got a bit too much going on, the poor blog is the first thing to be neglected!

Anyway, I should have posted this yesterday, but spent two hours in the doctors waiting room instead! A couple of weeks ago, the lovely Fritha at Tigerlilly Quinn asked me to do a crafty guest post - I discovered her blog when I was pregnant with Daisy, and it's since become a firm favourite so I was honoured to be asked. Head over to find out how to make some jazzy little collar clips from a bit of clay and some washi tape. Enjoy!

Friday, 21 March 2014

found: young soles

A few months back, I saw the most beautiful pair of children's shoes on Instagram, and decided it would be my lifes work to track them down and buy a pair for Daisy - and this was where my love affair with Young Soles began. Launched by established footwear designer Louise Shill, the designs have been inspired by classic styling and British heritage - think brogues, creepers, t-bars and Mary-Janes in leather, suede and patent materials. After seeing the lookbook, I immediately fell in love - the whole range embodies everything I look for desperately when buying shoes for both my children; good quality, beautiful details and fantastic design. I've always found footwear a challenge to be honest - if you've got a boy, everything is smothered with animals, diggers or slogans, while if you're a mother to a girl, you're faced with pink, glitter and flowers. And, err, that's it. To say I'm excited about these shoes is an understatement;  versatile enough to be matched with any outfit, hardy enough to withstand the enthusiasm of young children and wonderfully classically style - what's not to love?

I was lucky enough to have a few minutes to catch up with owner and designer Louise, where I picked her brains a little, and found out a bit more about the whole design process.

What were your top three priorities when designing the Young Soles range?

There are so many, but if I had to choose I’d have to begin with where I start the design process; choosing lasts (the shape of the shoe) that follow the contours of the foot and ensuring that each design functions as a child’s shoe; constructing the uppers to be soft and comfortable to wear -I’m lucky that my daughter happily lets me wear test all of my designs on her; and finally, ensuring that each design stays true to the Young Soles brand, blending retro-cool, British heritage and contemporary detailing.

How important are ethical and environmentally friendly practices to you?

I believe ethical and environmentally friendly practices affect most businesses today. Every business should have a conscience and take the responsibility to do what they can.  I chose to manufacture Young Soles in Europe, to keep my carbon footprint as low as it can be; I also use, wherever possible, locally sourced materials in support of the European shoe industry.

It’s so refreshing to find a footwear brand for children that keeps things simple and doesn’t smother their shoes with dinosaurs and hearts. I’d love to put my daughter in some of the boy’s shoes as well; particularly Morris, and I think some of the mums of boys would love the Vera.  Did you design with elements of gender-free styles in mind or was it a happy accident?

I always like to design simply, to ensure my shoes are versatile and work with many different outfits, and I was aware when designing that some styles would work for both boys and girls, however the odd style has been a surprise, such as ‘Vera’, that has been picked up for both boys and girls.

Do you have a favorite shoe, and what do you love about this particular design?

My favorite design has to be the ‘Rosie’ T-bar, this was the first style I designed for the Young Soles collection. It brings back a sense of nostalgia for me and has had the most positive reaction from buyers and the general public.  My daughter and I have been stopped many times and asked where her ‘Rosie’ T bars have come from. ‘Rosie’ T bars looks really cool with a pair of skinny jeans, and equally as great with a pretty dress.

What was the biggest challenge when designing the range?

It’s a continuous challenge to keep the range a reasonable size and it’s been tough keeping the collection to just ten styles - I’m bursting with ideas for next season.

For more information, head to the Young Soles website, or pop over to their Facebook page. A huge thanks to Louise for taking the time to answer my questions, and also to Lisa for all her help.

All photography courtesy of Flannery O'Kaffka, shot on location at Benjamin Barker Barber and Shop.


Sunday, 16 March 2014

thoughts on style

For as long as I can remember, I've always loved clashing patterns and quirky details when it comes to clothing; I've never really followed trends and have been buying vintage pretty much forever. It all just seemed to work well together; mixing my beloved old-lady knits with thrifted dresses - the effect was a little chaotic but suited me just fine. Lately though, I've found myself leaning towards simpler things; a decent Breton top, voluminous shift dresses and tunics, and tapered ankle-grazing trousers. The truth is, having a school-age child has put a whole new spin on things - mornings now are a mad rush crammed with baths and breakfasts, coercion and bribery, and I just don't have time to stand in front of the wardrobe, staring vacantly and wondering if three different patterns is a bit much.

I still love the quirky details though; a statement necklace here, a printed scarf there, and not to mention the possibility of hats and shoes. I've been pinning loads of new things lately, and seem particularly drawn to COS - a little bit like Toast, but more in my price range! 


Phew, what a week - we've finally said goodbye to the eldest's ear infection, and I'm pleased to report that he's back to racing around and obsessing over Lego again. I missed week 10 of the 52 Project completely - there weren't many smiles knocking about round our way, so it seemed a bit of a pointless activity. I suppose I could have just taken a picture of the Calpol bottle!

Daisy: Obsessed with being arty at the moment, I caught her head down, creating something multicoloured and fabulous. She calls crayons 'drawings' and spends a lot of time sitting next to Ben while he draws detailed treasured maps and Lego creations. (This sounds immeasurably cute, but it actually all goes to shit after about five minutes when they both decide that it's absolutely imperative that each has the blue crayon, and end up tussling for it on the floor.)

Ben: My little nature lover; a quick drink in the sun after school before we started digging the garden over, ready for planting. He was really involved in the growing last year, and is massively excited to get going now that Spring has arrived - this year, we're doing carrots, beans, squash, chillis and all manner of herbs.

We've really REALLY been enjoying the sun and making plans for the garden this weekend - what have you been up to?

Hooking up with Jodi and the other lovelies at Practising Simplicity and The Boy and Me. Come and join us!

Friday, 14 March 2014

let's go adventuring

We're really lucky where we live, in that we're never more than a few minutes from the sea, the city and the country; a quick trip up the road, and we can be burying our toes in the sand, foraging in the woods or pottering around independent stores and coffee shops. We celebrated the return of the sun (hello, Spring!) and warmer weather by heading off to Queen Elizabeth Country Park last weekend, armed with rucksacks, puddlesuits and all-important snacks.

It was glorious; we breathed in the heady scent of damp earth, relished being out of doors and squelched happily along in the mud. The kiddos loved it - they ran ahead, chasing each other, tumbling to the ground, giggling. They brandished sticks and balanced on fallen logs, investigated the undergrowth and ran wildly across the flat ground at the top of the hill, before protesting loudly when it was time to leave. It was wonderful, it was needed and it was a taste of things to come.

life lately

The eldest has been off school this week with an ear infection and perforated eardrum, which meant I've spent most of the time administering medicines and trying to entertain two fractious kiddos, nightmare. I did manage to grab some time in the evenings to do a bit of making, and last weekend I tackled the disgustingly messy craft room as well - this was mostly me just shoving things under other things with the tip of my toes, but at least we can walk across the floor again. It's a start.

This week I've been mostly:

Sorting craft supplies, yarns and rolls of lovely printed papers
Enjoying the longer days, and beautiful sun drenched rooms at home. It's been heavenly not to have to put the lights on at 4pm.
Working on new crochet patterns - bright cottons and geometric intarsia. Lovely!
Filling the house with plants and flowers - Wilkinsons have some lovely succulents for only £2.50 each. Just the right size for all my vintage china, hurrah - it's the little things!
Spending more time outside, inspecting the garden for new shoots and blooms. I dug some horse manure into the soil as well, ready to plant out in the next few months - if you've treated your soil right, you're well away.

What have you been up to this week? Has anyone been doing anything in the garden?

Sunday, 9 March 2014

toast: house and home 14

The latest Toast catalogue rattled through the letterbox yesterday morning; full of all the usual goodness, it made great lunchtime browsing. I think the thing I love most about Toast clothing is the way it's quite simple, but still has a little bit of a quirky edge; a print here, a huge statement necklace there - it's pretty much how I'd like to dress if I wasn't so addicted to clashing patterns. At the back of the catalogue was a link to the new house and home collection; I've said before that I just want to climb into the catalogue and live in it, and I think that's probably more true after seeing the latest offerings - they sucked me in with the metal and wood stools, and then I spent a good portion of the time drooling over the duvet covers (I've been hankering after the organic ticking bedlinen for at least a year) and bedspreads. Simple, rustic, colourful, gorgeous.

To see the whole collection, head over to the website.

Friday, 7 March 2014

cereal magazine

My one weakness in life, apart from thrifting (and chocolate. And cakes. Biscuits. Coffee. Yarn. Erm....) are magazines. I love all the usuals; Mollie Makes, Crafty, Country Living, Oh Comely, but I also like the lesser-known ones that you can only find online, or in galleries and independent shops - the ones that stop you in your tracks with breathtaking photography, or leave your head reeling with beautifully written articles about things you never realised you were interested in. So when someone asked me on Twitter which ones I'd recommend, I thought it'd be a nice idea to do a mini-series with all of my favourites - kicking things off with the wonderful Cereal magazine.

Cereal is a quarterly travel and lifestyle magazine, based in the wonderful Bristol in the UK (I'm starting to think that all the best things come from Bristol!), and it's really difficult to sum it up succinctly in a few sentences. The pictures above are taken from volume three, which included features on Santa Barbara, Reykjavic, contemporary letterpress and edible flowers and insects - all things that I'd never thought about much (apart from the letterpress!), but found myself completely absorbed by. The photography is stunning; clean, simple, beautiful - and with incredible detail that makes you keep going back to them, over and over.

For more information, or to read the blog (which is ace in itself), head to the Cereal website.



Daisy: Deep in concentration, she's currently fascinated by absolutely everything, from crayons and books to household items (she calls the mop a 'clean up'). I forgot what fun toddlerhood can be; seeing things through a tiny pair of eyes really helps you to see how wonderful the world can be; from the stars and moon on a clear night ('hello moon! Hello stars!') to the endlessly interesting sticks and stones.

Ben: Showing off his newest prize possession - his new Lego jet, the latest in a long line of projects that keep him occupied for hours. He follows the instructions to the letter, then breaks it all up and creates wonderful new things; "I am using my imagination, Mummy." I've discovered that the world of a five-year-old is a magical place, where anything is possible - he constantly reminds me that if you try hard enough, you can achieve pretty much anything.

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for the 52 Project, and 365 Photo a Day with The Boy and Me. Come and join in!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Festival of Thrift 2014

If you've been reading for a while, you'll probably know by now that I a) love a good crafting session b) think there's not much in life better than a right good bargain and c) am pretty keen on all things ethical and sustainable. Which is why I'm almost dribbling with excitement that the Festival of Thrift is returning for 2014 - hurrah!

Last year the Festival of Thrift was an absolutely huge success (I didn't go, but read loads about it online); over 27,000 people poured through the gates at Linfield Point, from families searching for a day out with a difference, to people wanting to learn new skills and find out about living a more sustainable lifestyle. Curated by the incredible Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway, it aimed to celebrate the fun and creativity in living thriftily and sustainably - think sewing, dancing, foraging, playing, music-making, theatre, gardening, upcycling, eating and crafting. Phew!

This year, it's all happening again, and I'm thrilled to be able to reveal that I've been invited to be the Blog Ambassador - we're going to be creating the School of Thrift; a huge online community, absolutely packed with thrifty tips, crafty tutorials and sustainable living ideas from some of the most fabulous bloggers around. There'll be interviews from behind the scenes, fun features and all the latest festival news - and we want as many people to get involved as possible.

For more information, head to the website and sign up for all the latest news, and while you're there, check out what happened at the Festival of Thrift 2013 - get involved, it's going to be ace!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

we love books: the dark

I've always been a huge book lover; from adventuring with the Famous Five to moving onto Judy Blume as a teenager, I've always had my nose buried amongst the pages of a book. So I'm thrilled that the kiddos seem to have inherited my passion for reading - Ben reads anything and everything, from The Faraway Tree and Oliver Jeffers books to his cBeebies comic and takeaway menus that come through the door.

I first discovered Lemony Snicket years ago, when I saw A Series of Unfortunate Events at the cinema, and utterly loved it. At the time I didn't have children, so promptly went away and forgot it completely. Then quite by chance, I found The Dark at a book fair at Ben's school - I was instantly taken by the charmingly simple illustrations and rather lovely plot. The book tells the story of  a young boy called Laszlo, and how he overcomes his fear of the dark; it's so beautifully written that it's become a firm favourite of ours, and I think it'd be a great way to squash any night-time dark-related fears.

Linking up with Fritha and her 'We Like to Read' series today. Check out the other great books here!

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