Wednesday, 30 March 2016

five companies with heart

As you all know by now, I love to promote businesses that are ethical, environmentally friendly and just try their hardest to make the world a better place, so I thought today I'd round up five great companies that I've stumbled across lately.

Selfish Mother (Top)

Selfish Mother was created by journalist and writer Molly Gunn, and is a winning combination of blogzine, online shop and social community. No ordinary shop, this one takes ethics to the next level; all sweatshirts and t-shirts are made at a Fair Wear Foundation certified factory in Bangladesh, and screen printed in London. On top of that, profits from each item of clothing go towards supporting different charities (a whopping £15 per t-shirt or sweatshirt), from Kids Charity UK and Women for Women to The Refugee Council and Prostate Cancer UK, amongst others. They cater for men, women and children, so you can kit out your whole family!

'Mother' Sweatshirt: £45 // 'Human' T-shirt: £30 //

Little House in Town

I discovered Little House in Town by accident while I was on an internet wander last week (you know, when you click from one place to another, and then find something wonderful at the end of it!), and it's absolutely full of vintage and fair trade treasures. From vintage flowerpots (you can never have too many - I always think they look way nice than new ones) and Observer nature books to handwoven rugs made in India, fairly traded mirrors and British made blankets, there's plenty to satisfy your ethical homeware cravings!


If you're in the market for a new mattress, don't just rush off to your local bed showroom or branch of Argos - take the time to head over to the Leesa website and check out what they've got to offer. Not only do their cleverly designed mattresses combine temperature control, contouring pressure relief and core support, the company itself are pretty incredible too. With social impact at their core, Leesa are the proud owners of three different programmes; the One-Ten Programme is built around the promise that for every ten mattresses they sell, they donate one - since their launch in January of last year, they've donated a whopping 4,000 mattresses to partners including Heading Home in Boston, the Denver Rescue Mission and Larkin Street Youth. The Leesa One-Earth Programme works on a similar basis, but involves partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant one tree for every mattress that is sold - the goal is to plant a million trees worldwide by 2025. Finally, the One-Community Programme sees the staff volunteering at a food bank and homeless shelter every month, running weekend campaigns and sponsoring local charity events. I honestly can't think of a more socially minded company!

You can follow Leesa and their social impact news over on their blog.

Lines and Current

I wrote about Lines and Current last year, on this post (I think Daisy wore the sunglasses better than me!), but decided I couldn't not include them here, as they're one of the kindest and most stylish accessory companies around. Founded by Rebekkah and based in Northern Ireland, Lines and Current stock eyewear, headwear and jewellery which all feature beautiful clean lines and simple details. The best thing is that 10% of all profits go towards companies they're partnering, which changes regularly; right now, they're supporting the Significado Foundation, which helps young people in Moldova receive training for work, and they've previously worked with Storehouse, Trekstock, Hand in Hand for Syria and many others. They also have a pretty great Instagram account, so be sure to check that out!

Tinka Blu

I found Tinka Blu quite by accident when I was on Instagram one day, and immediately got excited because they stock EXACTLY the type of swimwear I've been looking for since around 2014 - I'm not one for frills or mesh or whatever, so their simplicity and practicality is right up my street. When I clicked through to their website, I was even more thrilled to find that they're a completely eco-friendly company, and that the bikinis are all made from recycled materials. Plastic bottles, fishing nets and other rubbish is collected from landfills and oceans, regenerated into raw materials and then sewn into swimwear. And if that wasn't enough, they also source renewable energy, use a green web-provider, pack products in recycled packaging and ship climate neutral with GoGreen. Swoon! (Technically these are designed for surfers, but I'm sure activities such as 'chasing-after-small-children' will do!)

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Jamie Oliver and the tale of the angry bottlefeeders

"Hello? Jamie? Yep. You're in a bit of shit, matey."

Once upon a time, there was a famous chef called Jamie. He made his name on TV arguing with dinner ladies and shouting 'pukka!' like he was suffering from some form of cockney-tourettes. He had four children and a lovely wife, and everyone loved him - until one day he lost his mind and started telling women that they all needed to breastfeed, because formula was shit. The clouds rolled up, the sky went black and a thousand angry bottle-feeders cursed him with a shower of Turkey Twizzlers that would follow him everywhere, forever. The end.

OK, so that didn't happen, obviously. But from what I've been reading on the internet, women everywhere are incensed that a TV chef is trying to advise them on how to feed their babies, and Jamie has subsequently found himself in the middle of a media shitstorm. The thing is, the whole breast-vs-bottle debate is a hugely thorny area, and I bet he's wishing he'd just kept quiet; he's since been quoted as saying that it wasn't intended to offend, and he's not starting a 'breast-is-best' campaign, but unfortunately Jamie, me old mucker, the damage has been done.

The topic of feeding babies is an argument that simply will not die; on one side, you've got your hardcore breastfeeders, knockers out, lactating freely, Instagramming their tits off (see what I did there...?) and fiercely defending their right to feed their child at a table rather than, say, on a smelly toilet or in a car park. Then, on the other side, you've got your formula feeders, who have expressed their right not to breastfeed, be it through choice or necessity, and are pros at finding ways of heating up milk in the unlikeliest of places. Both groups of women think the other is judging them and the thing is, they're absolutely not, because (brace yourself):

No mother cares how another woman is feeding her child

Unless you're one of those crackpots who finds breastfeeding offensive, I bet you've never actually looked at a woman and judged her on her feeding methods. Women who choose to breastfeed aren't looking at those with bottles and thinking less of them. They're thinking about how long it is until bedtime, and just how much wine they can have that evening without getting the baby drunk, and if they have a newborn, when they'll be able to have a poo without praying first. Similarly, a mother feeding a baby with a bottle isn't looking disgustedly at a breastfeeder and thinking she should go somewhere private; she's too busy wondering when she'll get to sleep for more than five minutes at a time, whether she brushed her teeth that morning, and if she'll ever smell of anything other than baby puke. I've been in both situations, and I can tell you that the furthest thing from my mind was making a judgement on how another woman was feeding her baby.

The breast-vs-bottle debate only becomes an argument when the media and internet trolls get involved; new 'reports' are shoved down the throats of bottle-feeders that if they don't breastfeed, their baby will be less healthy / grow a second head / turn out to be a sociopath, while women who choose to breastfeed are ridiculed, shamed and verbally abused for daring to feed their child the way nature intended. Basically, ladies, we're damned if we do and we're damned if we don't (like in so many areas of life!)

Except we don't have to be. I failed at breastfeeding twice (you can read more about that here), and it's taken me a few years to realise that, in the words of my excellent first midwife, 'as long as your baby is fed and happy, then who gives a shit?' Breastfeeding? Buy yourself some brightly coloured feeding bras, practise your latch and feed with pride. If you want to whop a boob out in Costa while juggling your baby's head and a flat white, do it. Bottle feeding? Treat yourself to a cool new bag especially for the endless gear that goes with it, then sit back and revel in your uncracked, un-padded nipples.

We're not just babymakers and lactaters, we're mothers and before that, we're women. And as women, we should support each other in our choices, whether we agree or not; we've all grown and birthed a human (which is pretty mind-blowing in itself), we're all suffering from sleep deprivation, sick-on-the-shoulder, and Developmental-Milestone-Panic, we're all knackered and fed up and our pelvic floors are fucked and we're worried our kids aren't making enough friends at school. We've got enough to worry about, so let's ignore the media, and the trolls, and clumsy buffoons like Jamie Oliver, and just high-five each other for managing to keep the kids alive for another day. However they were fed.

I don't often write about parenting as such, but the whole 'breast-vs-bottle-debate' is something I feel quite strongly about, so there it is. Normal service will now be resumed!

Monday, 21 March 2016

shop: uncommon goods

You all know by now that I love a good independent shop or business, and I'm also a fan of profiling artists, makers and creatives here on the blog - so when the lovely folks at Uncommon Goods got in touch, I jumped at the chance to feature them.

Started by founder Dave Bolotsky after he was inspired by a Smithsonian Museum craft show in 1999, Uncommon Goods was born to bridge the gap between the maker and the buyer; almost two decades later, the business has gone from strength to strength, and now stocks beautiful, handmade products by hundreds of independent brands and creatives. Not only that, but they're a certified B-Corporation, which means that they've passed several strict tests concerning areas like environmental practises and community impact; sustainability is one of the prime concerns at Uncommon Goods, and the company pride themselves on being as ethical as possible as often as possible - they print onto FSC certified and recycled paper, choose environmentally friendly packing materials and donate $1 for every order to a partner of the customers choice.

Product-wise, there's not a lot they don't sell; you'll find unique and beautiful things for your home, your kitchen, and your children. There's jewellery (I've done a little collage of my favourites at the bottom - because, why not?! There's a great minimal style collection, if that's your bag!), toys, kitchenware and artwork, scarves, bags, mugs and plates.... if you can't find it on there, you probably don't need it!

One of my favourite things about the website, though, is the blog; full of makers studio tours, The Goods is full of inspiration, business tips and the absolute best part - makers studio tours! I love a good nosy round peoples workspaces, especially if they're creative in some way, so this was definitely a highlight for me. I thought it was brilliant that you could go and buy a product, and then click across and find out more about the person who made it - what a fantastic shopping experience!

1: Salvaged Furniture Wood Double Arrow Necklace, £47.67 // 2: Tagua Double Strand Necklace, £40.34 // 3: Northern Woods Watch, £101.95 // 4. Me and You Venn Necklace, £80.68 // 5. Salvaged Funiture Wood Lotus Necklace, £40.33 // 6. Tagua Verde Necklace, £42.54 // 7. Rising Moon Necklace, £20.54

All images are owned by Uncommon Goods, and must not be reproduced without prior permission. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

Blogging with Braintree Clothing

I'm just popping in quickly to announce that I'm thrilled to have joined the team of bloggers over at Braintree Clothing; I'm joining the likes of Lori, Wendy and several others, and am kicking things off with this super easy hanging planter DIY.

You all know I love my ethical and environmentally friendly brands, so working with Braintree is pretty exciting for me - if you've never had a look at their clothing, definitely pop over for a browse. They're a great combination of style and sustainability - I'm completely in love with this botanical dress, and this hemp dress, and err, pretty much everything!


Friday, 11 March 2016

lovely things for spring #1

I honestly can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to the arrival of spring; I know technically it's here already, but I don't think the weather got the memo. Down here in the south, it's still cold, wet and rainy, and not even in the slightest bit spring-like - we're still bundling up in hats and coats for the school run, and choosing to stay huddled under blankets at the weekend.

I've found a few lovely things on the internet over the last few days, which are all very spring-like - the shops know the new season has started, even if the weather doesn't!

Woven Magazine, £18, The Future Kept
I discovered Woven magazine via the Instagram feed of The Future Kept, but by the time I actually got round to ordering it, they were out of stock. Wah! Luckily, there are more on the way, so if you've been as slow as me, don't panic. It sounds like such a great read; aimed at makers and thinkers, it's a collection of stories, inspiration and advice. Can't wait.

Monarch Print, £20, The Hambledon
I think this is the most spring-like print I've seen so far this year; beautiful flowers and butterflies, a sunny yellow background and the instantly recognisable style of Rifle Paper Co. What's not to love?

Moroccan Rose Bath Salts, £8, The Future Kept
Baths aren't just for winter; I love finding lighter, fresh scents for a long soak in the warmer months - settling down for a read in the bath after a day in the woods or gardening is the absolute best. These contain Himalayan pink salt, which is said to be healing, detoxifying and renewing - just what you need after a hard day digging and weeding!

Hanging Glass Picture Frames, £18, Loop the Loop
Loop the Loop is a shop that's relatively new to me; I only came across it on Instagram a week or so ago, but it is SO good. Full of lovely vintage and contemporary homewares in that rustic style that I looooove, they stock everything from kitchenware to storage, and some ace decorative accessories - these picture frames are great for displaying flowers, leaves and pretty prints.

Geo Shape Mugs, £28, Rose and Grey via Not on the High Street
In reality, I need more mugs like I need a second head, but I saw these a few days ago and just love them - they're decorative but still pretty subtle, which is what I like. And who doesn't love a good geometric?

Vilda Vaxter Wild Mountain Foraged Perfume, £20, The Future Kept
I don't wear perfume much, but I do like a nice light scent for the warmer months - I've put this on my shortlist simply because it's described as 'the Nordic summer in a bottle'. It's 100% natural and vegan, and is made in the forests of Sweden. Yum.

Botanical Style by Selena Lake, £16.58 for Pre-Order at Amazon
Selena Lake has written some of my favourite interiors books, but I know already that this is going to be my absolute favourite - a whole book about decorating with plants! If I only buy one book this spring, it's almost definitely going to be this one.

Candles by Essence and Alchemy, various prices
I've been umm-ing and ahh-ing over which one of these to get for the spring, because they all sound so lovely - if you're in between flowers, or you've got some that don't smell, a scented candle on a warm spring evening is heavenly. My shortlist has been whittled down to tranquility, sleep and roses - which apparently has the heady scent of a whole rose garden.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

parity begins at home: an international women's day special

A few weeks ago, I was standing in the playground of Ben's school, and the women next to me were having a conversation that went something like this:
Navy Coat Mum: They've got a lot of good after school clubs here, so much choice! (They do, it's really good.)

Bobble Hat Mum: Oh yes, they've always had lots on for them to get involved with.

Navy Coat Mum: My youngest has just gone into year one, and he came home wanting to join the dance club.

Bobble Hat Mum: Oh right. Is he enjoying it?

Navy Coat Mum: *Laughs* Oh, he didn't go for it in the end. His Dad said, 'there's no way he's doing dance. He can just do football or something, like the other boys.' 

Me: *Shakes Navy Coat Mum by the shoulders* WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? CAN YOU EVEN HEAR WHAT YOU'RE SAYING?

OK, so the last bit only happened in my head, but in all seriousness, it was a real struggle not to say something. How, in 2016, when we've explored outer space, mastered organ replacement and have pottered about with cloning, are we still so behind with equality? Why are women being paid so much less? Why do we still have gender divisons with toys, clothes, jobs, hobbies and books? 

Our house is, I suspect, pretty different to Navy Coat Mum's house. This is the division of labour at Accordion Towers:

Vicky: Laundry, cleaning, general tidying and organisation. Cooking. Some DIY. Working from home as a freelancer, as many hours as I can fit in.The school run, homework and reading during the week.

Ali: Ironing, cleaning the bathroom, grocery shopping (I make the list, he goes to buy it. I am a liability and have been known to double our food bill with impulse purchases, so he forbids me from going with him). Most DIY. Cooking. Working from an office, 37 hours a week. Reading at the weekends.

Daisy: Screaming.

Ben: Playing Minecraft. (In all seriousness, both children are expected to take their dishes out to the kitchen, pick their clothes and toys up, that sort of thing - I'm big on independence!)

Equality is absolute in our house; no job is dished out due to its gender connotations - Ali does the bins because I hate it, I do the hoovering (mostly) because he hates it. He is better at ironing than me, because he is more patient, and I am better at organising than him because he has the planning skills of a gnat. Neither of us can navigate particularly well, although Ali comes out slightly worse after he programmed the SatNav to take us to Stratford in London. We needed to go to Stratford-upon-Avon. In the West Midlands. 

Raising my children in a house where men and women are seen as equal is probably one of the most important rules of parenting for me (that, and 'don't eat your own poo'); I want them both to grow up to respect themselves, and other people regardless of their gender. I want them to feel free to enjoy the colours and toys, hobbies, games and activities they choose without feeling the pressure from the media / society / shops / their friends to choose something more 'approprate'. I want Daisy to forever be the little girl in the Tinkerbell dress, digging in the mud and wrestling her brother. I never want Ben to stop loving My Little Pony and talking my ears off about Minecraft. I want them to have lives filled with colour and adventure, opportunities and wonderful experiences, regardless of what people expect from them.

Navy Coat Mum, this post is for you - let your son try out dance club. He might love it, or he might hate it, but you'll be teaching him one of the most important lessons there is - that parity begins at home. 

This is a post written to celebrate Internation Women's Day - the theme this year is Pledge for Parity, and I'm linking up with the ever fabulous Lulastic over here

Monday, 7 March 2016

a slow spring breakfast

The one thing I really look forward to about spring is the warmth; I hate being cold, and as wonderful as blankets are, I can never wait to be able to throw open our patio doors and let the sunshine in. After months of layers, thick knits, hot water bottles and endless tea, being able to potter around the garden barefoot and watch the laundry billowing on the line is a pretty big treat.

One of my favourite things is a slow spring breakfast; every now and then, once the school run is done and the washing is on, I like to get comfy in the conservatory and take my time over a late start. Pastries or croissants piled high, fresh coffee steaming in the sunlight and a good book or magazine to hand - I always find it particularly good if it's been a really hectic morning. For anyone considering doing the same, my top tips are:

1. Leave the phone alone
...and the laptop, tablet, iPad and TV. The point is to switch off and let yourself breathe - there's plenty of time for work afterwards!

2. Choose food that doesn't need much cooking
There's nothing relaxing about cooking a full English - I always choose something that simply has to be opened and put on a plate! Other quick and tasty options are pancakes, toast, or scrambled eggs

3. Find a good book or magazine
This is an ideal time to get engrossed in some reading; I've got a post about books coming up soon, but my favourite recent read is The Taxidermists Daughter - a real gripping page-turner. Magazines for indulging are Trouve, The Simple Things, Another Escape, Country Living and Oh Comely - you'll find them packed with plenty of inspirational stuff.

4. Pick the best tea or coffee
If you're going to indulge, do it properly; tea fanatics will love anything from Teapigs, Bluebird Tea or Jing Tea, while anyone who's into their coffee should definitely opt for Monmouth - I can't drink anything else anymore!

5. Add some flowers
I always find that flowers on the table seem to make meals seem a little bit extra special, so this is a good time to add some - scented varieties like stocks, lavender and carnations are all great choices, and I always find clouds of gypsophila pretty to look at.

All the items featured above can be found over at Houseology (details below), and to celebrate the launch of their new platform My Houseology, they invited me to style some products and upload the pictures to the website.
My Houseology is a fantastic new resource that allows anyone who has shopped their to share their style - simply take a picture of your item in it's new home, upload the photograph, and you'll be eligible for the chance to win £500. Can't be bad! For more information, head over to the website (and see if you can spot any pictures from other bloggers!).

Product details: Lexington Striped Oxford Kitchen Towel, Murmur Dune Small Mug, Barber Osgerby Olio White Cream and Sugar Set, Nkuku Artisan Dinner Plate, Greengate Audrey Glass in Indigo, Linum West Table Runner.

Many thanks to Houseology for collaborating on this post.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

ten alternative ideas for mother's day gifts

Sunday is Mother's Day here in the UK, which means that by midnight on Saturday, you won't find so much as a petal in florists or supermarkets up and down the country. My two are three and seven, so I look forward to the yearly handmade cards and bunches of carnations, but if you're looking for something a bit different for your Mum, I've come up with ten alternatives to the traditional Mother's Day gifts. (Although I'm sure she'd still love the chocolates!)

Take her to a National Trust property
I could rave forever about the National Trust, but I won't - I'll just say that they're brilliant, and we've had a wonderful time on every visit. This is a particularly good time to visit properties with gardens, as the spring crocuses, daffodils and blossom will be in full flow - there are also special Mother's Day events happening at various locations up and down the country; click here to find one near you.

Take her hot air ballooning
If you're looking to blow the budget, a ride in a hot air balloon would be an amazing way to spend the day; pack a picnic and some fizz (or a flask of tea, if that's more your thing!), grab a camera and sail away over the hills.

Go to a craft session together
There are various places that are offering set packages for the crafty Mums out there; Red Letter Days offer experiences such as flower arranging followed by afternoon tea, pottery classes and tours of the Emma Bridgewater factory. If you're looking for something closer to home, check out your local craft shops, galleries and branches of Hobbycraft - it doesn't have to be expensive or fancy, and the results don't have to be mind blowing; the aim is to spend a happy afternoon together laughing at your wonky pots or hole-y knitting!

Go to an art gallery
Art galleries are an ace idea for Mother's Day, and not only because there's a huge wedge of cake waiting for you in the cafe afterwards! There are some great exhibitions on at the moment; the National Portrait Gallery is displaying a century of style with Vogue 100, and the National Gallery has spring covered with Dutch Flowers - if you live outside of London, make a day of it with lunch somewhere and a stroll through Hyde Park. (Or find a local gallery, obviously!)

Buy her a subscription to Audible
I bloody love subscriptions - even though you'e only presented with an envelope on the big day, there's absolutely nothing better than getting something nice in the post every month. Which is why I've included three of 'em in this post! Audible is fantastic - I've joined, and it's something that you don't realise you're missing until you have it. I listen to plays on radio 4 a lot, but they're usually only between thirty and sixty minutes long at the most - an audiobook is hours and hours of storytelling goodness, and you also get the opportunity to swap your book if you don't like it. The subscripton includes one book a month and 70% off of additional audiobooks, and at the moment the first thirty days are free. Ace!

Buy her a gardening box subscription
Plants and flowers make great gifts, but they don't last all that long (especially not in our house!) - a gardening box subscription means that over the course of a year, your lovely Mum will receive several deliveries of seeds, tools and other goodies. Allotinabox offer a yearly subscription which is made up of quarterly boxes, packed full of everything you need to grow your own food all year round. I can vouch for the seeds as well, because I buy from there regularly!

Buy her a craft kit
One of my favourite things to get on birthdays (apart from books!) is any sort of craft-related present; yarn, washi tape, patterns...anything. If your Mum is the type who likes trying new hobbies, a craft kit is the ideal Mother's Day gift, and there are heaps to choose from; Hobbycraft stock the Kirstie Allsopp range, which cover everything from candle making to pyrography, while Clothkits offer packages with sewing, embroidery and felting. Alterntively, make up your own box; choose a knitting, sewing or crochet pattern, some hooks or needles and some luxury fabric or yarn, and package it all up in a lovely basket.

Take her tea tasting
For those Mums who love a good ol' cuppa, forget the afternoon tea and go hardcore, with a tea tasting session. Afternoon Tea offers a session which includes an afternoon of 'slurping and spitting', followed by the chance to blend your own tea to take home - a bit like wine tasting, but without the staggering home afterwards!

Buy her a book subscription
My last subscription box is probably my favourite - books! *Squee* The Willoughby Book Club is one of the best things I've ever heard of; users sign up and choose from a three, six or twelve onth subscription, which is fully personalised towards the recipients tastes - from babies and toddlers to cookbooks, natural history books and all kinds of fiction. Books are sent out once a month - now that's what I call happy post!

Make her something handmade
It might be a cliche, but sometimes a handmade gift is the best thing you can give - and these days there are so many ideas to choose from. Paper flowers last forever, and can be really convincing (a quick search online will show you how to make the most incredible crepe paper flowers), or get your needles out and whip up a quick scarf or wrap in the softest merino yarn. Hand stamp some fabric and make it into a cushion cover, make your own pop-up card, or even make some vouchers for 'a months worth of tea-making'. I can guarantee she won't care what it is, but will love that you made it yourself.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

spring decor tips with wayfair

A few weeks ago, the folks at Wayfair challenged me and some other bloggers to select some products, and style a 'spring shelfie', based around our idea of what makes a great spring interior. I went a bit mad with the flowers, but to me, that's what really marks the end of winter and the beginning of the warmer months; plenty of petals, plenty of colour and a little bit of greenery thrown in for good measure. I displayed them in the Fairmont and Main canteen jug, and the Faber bottle, then paired up a feather and a DIY botanical print in the Nkuku photo frame and finished it all off with the Esti succulent pot for a bit of variation. Plants, flowers and a nice print - what could be more spring?!

I always look forward to spring; as soon as the evenings start to stay that bit lighter, I can feel myself beginning to get excited for the warm days (hopefully!) ahead. Spring and summer are my favourite seasons to decorate and faff around with things at home, so I thought I'd include some of my favourite tips for freshening up your home.

1. Choose Flowers
Because it's spring, and what else is there?! If you're looking for seasonal blooms, Iris, Ranunculus, Tulips and Hyacinths are all around at this time of year, and can be found in most good florists and even some supermarkets (Waitrose always have some lovely tulips!) Alterntively, if you're out foraging, you'll find plenty of branches with pink and white blossom - so make sure you carry your secateurs, and stick to public trees. No scaling peoples fences!

2. Add Some Greenery
Spring is the perfect time to bring some plants home; nothing is quite growing in the garden yet, and a selection of leaves will add a bit of variety to all those flowers. I've not got a great track record with plants, but my favourites are the Boston Fern (lovely, frilly leaves), Ivy (great for trailing from hanging planters), and the humble Spider Plant (apparently impossible to kill, but I've managed it!) - I'm also a big fan of succulents and cacti, simply because they require very little maintenance! (You could also fake it with some artificial plants - they require even less care, and a lot of them are just as convincing as the real thing!)

3. Choose Pastels
After all the dark, rich colours of winter, I always think it's nice to freshen up with some lighter, brighter colours. A few geometric cushions, the odd garland here and there, a new print... anything goes as long as it's pastel coloured and makes you feel cheery.

4. Press Some Flowers
Flower pressing is one of the most addictive and versatile spring crafts around; once your leaves and flowers have had their time in the flower press (or microwave!), you can do pretty much anything with them - stick them carefully to plant pots for decoration, make cards, make jewellery, pop them in a frame... the list is endless. Certain flowers press better than others - you're basically looking for anything with big, open petals; Pansies, Calfornian Poppies, Daisies, Buttercups, Larkspur... although it's more down to what you can find at this time of year.

5. Try a DIY Botanical Print
I love botanical prints, and the best thing about them is that there are absolutely heaps on the internet that make great printables; there are millions of search results on Google, but my favourite ones have always come from The Graphics Fairy or Vintage Printable, which have literally thousands to choose from. Print them onto A4 card, cut them out, and then place them in a large frame with some of those flowers you pressed earlier!

I was sent the items listed for the purpose of taking part in the campaign, however all words and thoughts are my own.
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