Wednesday, 27 August 2014

room for one more

Left // Right
Left // Centre // Right

Left // Right
I realised once I wrote it that the title of this post is pretty misleading; we're actually not having any more children (ever!), but moving both kiddos into their shared room over the next couple of months. I think a shared room is pretty challenging anyway, with multiple personalities, tastes and hobbies to consider, but when you've got a child of each gender to cater for it's even more tricky.

I've been trawling the internet and most bedrooms seem to try and split the room in half so each child has a dedicated section, but I'm not really a fan of that; my two are still too young to need privacy, and I don't really like how a room looks when you start splitting it in half - there's also not enough space to start introducing dividers and curtains and whatnot. I'm looking at mixing in all the vintage and retro things I've already collected with some gender-neutral bedding, lighting and prints; I want it to be colourful, cheerful and a place they enjoy spending time together - particularly at bedtime, when the sofa is calling my name!

From Top Left : Storage Basket : H&M Home // Basket : Molly Meg // Print : Molly Meg // Bedding : H&M Home // Wall Stickers : Molly Meg //
Shelving Unit : Molly Meg // Chair : French Blossom // Cushion : The Pippa and Ike Show // Blanket : Zara Home


Monday, 25 August 2014

found: victoria and abigail

A few weeks ago, I stumbled on a lovely little shop on Twitter; full of colourful textiles, quirky accessories and bright homewares, Victoria and Abigail is run by two ace ladies with impeccable taste and a great eye for a jazzy print. Victoria was kind enough to take the time to answer a few of my nosy questions about setting up shop, their favourite brands and a few fun past times.

What made you set up shop in the first place? 
Abi and I have been friends for years, and we always talked about opening a shop together; our ideas ranged from a small coffee and gift shop to what we have now - an online homewares and acccessories store. We spent a lot of time researching local retailers, and found that most places were selling generic mass-produced gifts and homewares, so we decided to open the kind of shop that we'd want to find ourselves in - one that was full of unique, handmade products crafted by talented designers and makers. We like to uncover and support independent designers and bring their exceptional products to the market.

Do you have any favourite brands?
We're currently working with twenty-five designers, and I couldn't pinpoint a favourite because they all have their own unique qualities. Abi does have a cushion obsession though, and has stored a few away for her home, while I do a lot of entertaining and have a wishlist full of tableware!

What do you do when you're not working on the shop?
Abi loves to spend her spare time watching Saturday Kitchen and then recreating meals, but when she's not cooking she's usually out and about.... at the shops! I'm a qualified hairdresser and spend a lot of time with clients and working on weddings - otherwise you'll probably find me either in the garden or down at the river with friends.

Victoria and Abigail have generously offered readers of this blog a 15% discount on any items in their fabulous shop - simply use the code OWL15 until 30th September at the checkout to make a nice little saving on some lovely bits and pieces.

A huge thanks to Victoria for answering my nosy questions, and to both ladies for the kind discount. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

sunday style: dressing your neckline

Kirstin Stride
Red Bird Makes
Lucie Ellen
After having my hair cut to a chin-length bob yesterday, I've started looking at accessories in a whole new way; prior to getting the chop, my long hair covered most necklaces, collar clips and brooches, so I usually just didn't bother at all. Now my straggly ends have gone, the world of neckline-accessories has opened up before me like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory did to Charlie.

I was browsing online and over on Instgram, and found some great independent makers creating beautiful accessories that are seriously tempting my wallet; from colourful kites to clean geometrics, there's something for everyone in these three shops - nip over quick, before I buy the lot!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

worn: colour and pattern

Sunglasses : H&M (similar here) // Necklace : Love Southsea Market // Blouse : Community Fusion Shop //
Belt : Vintage // Skirt : New Look // Bag : Charity Shop (similar here) // Sandals : Saltwater from Toast

On Saturday, we had a rare morning without the kiddos and no boring errands to run, so we headed into town and enjoyed a nice quite brunch with no screaming, no shouting and nobody throwing food on the floor. We revelled in the peace and quiet, enjoyed being able to leave hot drinks unwatched and tucked into the most amazing banana bread I've ever tasted - I love the kiddos from the tops of their heads to the tips of their small toes, but sometimes you just need a few hours off.

I wore my favourite midi skirt from New Look (which is now just £6 in the sale, bah), a vintage necklace from the Love Southsea market (I saw it when I was shopping with my friend Jen, and she sneakily bought it as my Christmas gift!), and my latest thrifted find, a pink vintage blouse from the Community Fusion shop in the town centre. I discovered them the other week when I ran past, on a desperate mission to find Daisy a last-minute swimsuit, and as usual, couldn't resist popping in. A combination of vintage and retro clothing and lovely bits and pieces handmade by talented locals; working in collaboration with Healthy Planet, you'll find clothing, accessories and homewares, as well as a furniture customisation service, story time for children and books that cost absolutely nothing. If you're local, I strongly suggest you find time for a visit - they're stocking some lovely things, and it's all for a good cause!

After we'd stuffed ourselves, we pottered around the charity shops for a bit and then wandered back to the car to pick up the littlies. I can't tell you how much more relaxed I felt after just two short hours peace and quiet; I know a lot of people swear by 'date night', but I'd take a daytime babysitting session over an evening one any day!

PS: I've booked a haircut for next Saturday, and I absolutely can't wait. Goodbye, frazzled locks!


Sunday, 10 August 2014

sunday style : the holiday edition

From left: Bikini : New Look // Watermelon Necklace : Boo and Boo Factory // Vintage Sundress : Love Miss Daisy // Top : People Tree //
Top and Shorts : ASOS Green Room //  Seahorse Pendant : Tatty Devine // Sunglasses : ASOS // Vegan Sandals :  Fashion Conscience //
Headband : ASOS // Tote Bag :  Fashion Conscience // Vegan Sandals : Fashion Conscience // Straw Bag : Rokit
As it's exactly one week until we head off to Dorset for a few days to stay here, I decided to make this weeks edition of Sunday Style all about those lovely little bits and pieces you just can't go on holiday without (what do you mean, 'a seahorse pendant isn't an essential'?!). I'll be packing a few dresses, some shorts (sorry in advance for the glare from my legs, people of Wareham) and probably way more accessories than I'm going to need. This week it's all about print and colour, and mixing it up to make yourself look as cheery as you feel; the amazing fruit necklace is by Boo and Boo Factory, who you absolutely have to check out (there's an Etsy shop and a beautiful website to browse as well), and the amazing tan sandals are not only vegan and ethical, but they're also only £29. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Phillip Green!

PS: If you want to read about someone who's doing proper travel in style (rather than just wimping it up the coast for a few days like us!), check out the Seeds and Stitches blog - Hannah and her lovely family are off exploring Europe for a month. The first post on Antwerp is up now - go read!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

when day trips go bad

For those of you who don't know, I used to work for a fashion brand, but switched to working from home when I had Daisy and Ben started school; my Mum is our main source of childcare, and leaving her to do the school run with a small baby was completely out of the question - she doesn't drive, and the school is a good twenty minute walk from her house. So now, I work at home twice a week, at my parents house twice a week, and most evenings; although the money is a significant drop, and I actually work way more hours than I used to, I love being able to pick Ben up and drop him off at school, spend so much time with my Mum and vary my workload depending on what's going on at home. With the school holidays now in full swing, I decided to cut one day a week to spend some time alone with Ben; I think when there are siblings with significant age gaps (three-and-a-half years in our case) every child needs one-on-one time with their parents, time to interact and focus on their favourite activities without an elder complaining they're bored, or a younger peppering the day with tantrums. So yesterday, Ben and I jumped on the bus and made our way into Southsea for a day full of museums, coffee shops, comic books and beach combing. Or so we thought.

We started off with usual great coffee (me), hot chocolate (him) and biscuits at Southsea Coffee; I love Daisy more than anything, but it was so, so nice to be able to sit and have a peaceful drink and chat without anyone screaming, shouting or throwing food on the floor (can't take the Husband anywhere, guffaw). We had a natter, I took way too many pictures of him, then he had a read and I caught up with my favourite blogs. We wandered down to the comic book store in the sunshine, where Ben picked some new reading material, and then headed off to the museum - which is when things started to go a bit less smoothly.

Whether they've changed their opening hours, or whether they've always been closed on Mondays I don't know (I'm sure we've been on a Monday before, but oddly, they're open on bank holidays, so it could have been one of those, I suppose), but when we got there, we were met with locked gates and a big notice informing us of the opening hours. We decided that instead, we'd sit on the common and have an early lunch, then head over to the beach for a spot of treasure hunting - but the weather had other ideas. That morning I'd made the rookie error of believing the weather forecast, which meant we had a) no coats and b) no umbrella - so when the first few drops of rain started to fall, I wasn't sure whether to be more cross with the BBC for being crap, or myself for being so unprepared. We ended up huddling under a low tree, getting wetter and wetter, while I said creative combinations of swear-words under my breath and Ben scuffed the ground with his toe, sadly.

By the time we got home on the bus, we'd dried off a bit and the weather couldn't have been better, so we spent the afternoon in the garden, talking, playing and bug-hunting (and I might have snuck in a nap...). Dinner was pizza, eaten while lounging on a blanket outside, bathed in the glow of the early evening sun, and Ben finished the day off beautifully by declaring, 'I really love you, Mummy'. Suddenly, the rain and the closed museum and the disappointment just stopped mattering - the small boy with a big heart made me feel like I'd just climbed Everest.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

sunday style: the high street edition

When I'm banging on about dressing ethically and economically, a lot of people bring up the same (quite valid) point; buying organically, fairly traded clothes is expensive, and charity shops don't always have what you want if you're searching for something specific. My initial answer is eBay - I've been using it since it first launched, and so far have never not managed to find what I'm looking for (or something pretty close), but then there's always the issue of inaccurate listings and problems with sizes - it can be pretty risky to part with your cash when you're not sure whether it's going to fit, and there are no refund options.

Until recently, apart from the odd shop with admirable ethical principles, the high street was a place to avoid if you were at all concerned with the environment or social responsibility; report after report of human rights abuses in factories surfaced over a matter of months, and suddenly something that had been shuffled under the carpet for years was firmly in the spotlight. Thankfully, although they're still far from perfect, many high street brands seem to be wising up to the fact that they need to improve their CSR policies, and now have an area on their websites dedicated to everything related to the environment, manufacturing process and employees.

There are also some great resources online which offer an insight into different brands and shops; Ethical Consumer is marvelous, and well worth signing up for, while comparison site The Good Shopping Guide have published a helpful guide to the best and worst places to shop. So today, in honour of these brands getting themselves together, I've put together an extra special Sunday Style extravaganza; featuring three sets of clothes which all get the ethical green light, won't break the bank, and most importantly, can be sent back for a refund if they don't fit. Hurrah!

The first set is from ASOS Green Room; if you've never ventured into this part of the website, you're missing out - made up of both ethical brands, such as ASOS Africa and Tatty Devine, and reclaimed vintage clothes, it features all the wonderful diversity that ASOS is known for, but with a little extra ethical friendliness. Can't be bad! (That velvet vintage reclaimed dress in the bottom right hand corner is just £18, reduced from £45  I snapped one up while they had my size!)
The second set features pieces from the H&M Conscious collection; not quite as eclectic as the others, but good for eco-friendly basics. The jersey tops are made from organic cotton, and they also have several lovely lyocell pieces; a soft fabric made from wood pulp. Clever!
The last set is from the only high street shop to make it into the green light section of the Good Shopping Guide ethical rankings - and you're probably going to be surprised that it's made up of pieces from.... New Look. I almost fell off my chair when I saw that they'd scored an impressive 78 out of 100 in the ethical company index - way higher than Marks and Spencer, and even Monsoon and Accessorize (who have an amazing set of CSR policies on their website, and even a charity foundation). Good stuff!

Friday, 1 August 2014

frugal friday: diy shell and bead mobile

If there's one thing I've got a lot of in my craft collection, it's shells; we go to the beach a few times a month, even in the winter, and with the kiddos eager to fill my pockets with a load of beachy tat, I've ended up with quite a good selection. The thing is, there's only so many shell-covered boxes you can make, so I decided to cobble together a colourful mobile for the bathroom - initially I tried to drill through the shells to thread the cotton through, but after blunting three drill bits and almost leaving a hole in the floor, I discovered that they'd quite happily stick to the cotton with some good quality craft glue.  Much less effort, and God knows I love a simple project!

You Will Need:
Shells of all shapes and sizes
Coloured beads (I used these from the kids section at Hobbycraft - they were only £2 for a large bag)
Crochet cotton (a good sewing or yarn shop will have a ball for around £1.50)
The inner section of an embroidery hoop
Coloured paper or card cut into triangles (I used some paper from Tiger that was printed in triangles, but anything will do)
An embroidery needle

1. Cut ten lengths of cotton the same size, mine were about 50cm, but you can make them as long or as short as you like.

2. Space your shells out along five of the lengths, and then glue the underneath press down firmly on the cotton. I found that the cotton tended to stick to my fingers, so I held it in place with a toothpick for a few seconds before moving on to the next one.

3. While your shells are drying, choose your beads, and space them equally along the other five lengths of cotton. To make sure they stay in place without fiddling around with knots, thread the cotton onto the embroidery needle and then thread it through the bead, then loop back round again.

4. Tie each length onto the embroidery hoop at equal spaces, then attach the end of the crochet cotton and wind it round until the whole hoop is covered, cover the loose ends from the lengths as you go - this is a bit fiddly and can take a while, so it's best to do it front of the TV with plenty of biscuits to keep your energy up. Ahem.

5. Once you've covered the hoop, cut four more equal lengths of cotton, and arrange them around so your mobile hangs as straight as possible. Fasten them together and then trim the ends.

6. Hang your mobile somewhere where you can reach it, then prepare your triangles, and stick them to the cotton between the shells.

7. Wait for the glue to dry, then hang up and admire!

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