Fairy #Kitchentales

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This is my kitchen. Not cleaned up especially. Not styled. (Although I will put away the dishwasher tablets now I’ve taken the photo, mainly because children, cats and dishwasher tablets are a bad combination.)

Fairy sent me some Fairy Platinum dishwasher tablets to try and I was supposed to write a post about my kitchen. I am grateful to Fairy for the tablets, truly I am, and they’ve done an excellent job, but this has been the busiest couple of weeks of what I thought was already as busy as we could be. Marto and I caught up for the first time in days, sat in a (borrowed) car driving back down the M6 on Sunday after a race up north to see my grandmother, ill in hospital. We’ve been doing alternate shifts, work, parenting and cramming in obligation after obligation. I love Fairy, but, you know what. I love sitting down with a cup of tea and sneaking the last set of the Djokovic/Tsonga match followed by some football just a little bit more.

So, I put the dishwasher on and watched Wimbledon for half an hour instead. Wimbledon fortnight is about my favourite of the whole year and today is the first time in a week I’ve found time to sit down and watch it.

Mostly, the kitchen is the heart of our home. Tonight, however, it wasn’t. But was left in capable, Fairy, hands. Isn’t that the beauty of dishwashers.

This post is an entry for the “My Kitchen Story” Linky Challenge, sponsored by Fairy Platinum.

Britmums & Yellow Lolly

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It’s almost here: tomorrow I will be heading to Britmums Live as a Lolly Ambassador for my sponsor, Yellow Lolly.

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Yellow Lolly has been a long time favourite of mine and I’m thrilled to be their ambassador at Britmums. I’ve written a little before about why I am a fan of Yellow Lolly, but I wanted to share the good news that they have been awarded a Let Toys Be Toys Toymark, recognising shops doing a great job of offering toys to girls and boys alike.

Ellie, one half of Yellow Lolly has this to say:

“We love labels who favour bold colour, ethical production methods, and unisex pieces. We have always stocked a range of Scandinavian brands as, with many areas of life including education and gender equality, the Scandinavians seem to be ahead of the curve with clothing and toys, and less prone to the dreaded pink/blue divisions that have dominated a lot of childrenswear and toy retail in this country.”

I am a big supporter of decisions not being made by sex or gender. I bang on and on about allowing Pip to find her own interests and decisions and favourites without imposing the societal norms and preferences of ‘normal’ or even what I choose. One of the very first things I loved about Yellow Lolly was that the search option is either age or type – it’s easier to navigate, those are the only two things that I think are important.

Ellie says:

“By reducing the options available we reduce our children’s chance to express themselves, to explore their potential selves. What is childhood for, if not for exploring and discovering who we are, who we want to be? And if you’ve ever had a fight with a toddler about what they do or don’t want to wear, you’ve been a part of that journey, too.

The more divisions we add to the mix, the harder we make it for the child, and their parent, that does not fit into the narrow boxes of conventional gender definition.

When a customer asks us “Are these (neon orange, skinny fit) jeans suitable for a boy?” or “Are these (plain green) shorts OK for a girl to wear” we always respond with a cheery “I can’t see why not!”. If that child is comfortable in their choices, then why not? We like to describe our clothes as being ‘For Mini Individuals’ and we hope that their wearers will grow up to be BIG individuals too, able to have fun making their own choices.

Many of our customers tell us that they like our site specifically because it does not offer ‘Search By Gender’ options. Instead, searching by the age of your child, or the type of clothing you need is just as effective a way to reduce the number of items to chose from, and applies none of the rigid definitions we find so unhelpful.”

(you can read the rest of the post here on the excellent Let Toys be Toys blog, a quite frankly wonderful campaign of which I am also a great supporter).

For those that are going, see you there (please come and say hi!) and for those that aren’t, I’ll be back full of wonderful content from an inspiring weekend.

Top photo by Anna Gordon.

 

 

I’d like to go to… Naples

I really want to go to Italy. Specifically, the Amalfi coast. I’ve been daydreaming of long hot days spent on the coast, wearing white linen and drinking coffee, looking out to sea, or walking among brightly coloured buildings, the scent of lemon and salt filling the air.

After seeing this on Love Chic Living I realised that Naples is as close as I could get by cruise ship. What could be more romantic than arriving by sea?

I had some fun this evening looking at photos on Pinterest and curating a board of home inspiration; perhaps the nearest I will get to Naples this year is by taking some inspiration; white linen, towels and billowing white curtains framing enormous windows looking out to sea. Weathered shutters in bright colours; tiled floors and plaster walls. Smooth, cool surfaces to balance the hot sunshine beating down and that blue green glare from the sea.

Anyway, here’s my board:

Follow Rachel’s board Naples inspiration on Pinterest.

life recently

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I posted anything. This week has disappeared in a haze of endo pains & migraines & Pip’s sleep problems since I returned from an hen party weekend in Rye.

We stayed in an amazing 1930s wooden bungalow next to Camber Sands and near to Rye which I really liked – I’m plotting a return trip already. The whole place had sanded and painted wooden floors with white walls, comfy beds with white linen and towels. I am a real linen and towel snob in holiday cottages (quite often I find my cottages by searching ‘white company’ and then the location of the cottage – as that seems to be an indication that the owner cares about the decor) and this place may not have specified as such but they did deliver. Except on wine glasses. Take your own wine glasses!

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^^ This was one of the bathrooms – the wall was covered with mirrors and it had a great bath. Sadly I didn’t get to try it out (sticking to the shower in the other bathroom for ease) but when we come back (I’m working on it) I will be bringing bubble bath.

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^^ My friend (the hen) and I did yoga on this deck both mornings which was an amazing treat. I returned with great plans and so far, despite the hecticness of this week I have managed to do a brief 15 minutes of yoga every night. The deck was also a sun trap and had newly covered, more tasteful, deckchairs, which made an excellent place to sip champagne and marvel at how good being on your own feels, sometimes…

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^^ We actually dragged the other table in from outside as well as this one (they were identical) as 10 round this table felt a little, shall we say, intimate, but we put the 6 teachers in our party to good use decorating the blackboard and then using it to help solve the murder mystery. We also all collectively cooked an amazing curry on the Saturday night, all doing different tasks.

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^^We had a 1940s murder mystery dinner on the Saturday evening and a vintage hair and makeup artist came to help us. I asked for a style which looked like Calypso from The Camomile Lawn and this is what I ended up with. Not perfect, but I loved it.
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^^ I bought these reproduction vintage 1/2 pint school milk bottles in a shop in Rye on the Saturday afternoon and then filled them with flowers I found in the hedgerow outside the cottage as a table decoration.

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^^ I was also thrilled to remember that Rye is home to Merchant & Mills which is one of my absolute favourite sewing places. I bought some lovely fabric to make cushion covers for our sitting room.

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^^ Rye is just the most darling town. This was a house on one of the streets. I can’t wait to go back!

I might write more about Pip’s sleeping – in the meantime I need to get some patience to try and deal better with her (a) refusal to go to bed, and (b) subsequent refusal to stay in it. Bedtime is now taking up to 10pm before she’s asleep. That’s hell anyway, but add enormously busy jobs and a week long bout of migraine/endo pain and suddenly tonight’s anniversary dinner can’t come quick enough…

Happy weekend!

PS. We may not have sleep cracked at the moment but back when Pip was sleeping in a cot last summer and still using a sleeping bag, these were the best thing I found for heat wave sleeping. The aden + anais Muslin Sleeping Bag is wonderful and I absolutely love this bee one.

Father’s Day – 15 June 2014

Have you remembered it’s Father’s Day a week on Sunday? Thanks to Snapfish, I’ve managed to be extra organised this year and ordered Marto a photo book full of photos of mainly him and Pip over the last two years.

Pip’s a little small to get around to organising her own present, so I thought this would be a great present – although we will make him a card together next week. I also had great fun going through photos (although, annoyingly, I seem to have misplaced months 1-5… I really must see what I backed up to my FIL’s computer) and creating this book. Some of the memories made me a little teary and I hope that Marto will enjoy the reminiscing and marvelling at how much Pip has changed in the last two years.

Want to have a look at some of the pages? (all screen shots from the software)

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^^around six months old and lying on the bathmat at my BIL’s house, taken by a dear friend – this image sits behind a cutout in the linen cover so it also appears on the inner page with a note to her Dad from Pip

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^^ first six months included two visits with 98 year old Great Grandmother, hanging out with Granddad and her cousin, out in the sling with Daddy, a trip to the rugby at Twickenham and hanging out with her Grandpa.

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^^ Attempting a family portrait on a winter trip to Brighton – the orange glow comes from sunset at the beach.

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^^ Family portrait in Copenhagen on NYE 2013 and stickers on the plane on the way home. The Tinkerbell costume she came home almost every day from nursery in for several weeks (and hasn’t been mentioned or seen since!)

This is actually the second photo book that I created this week – I made one for my friend’s hen party as well, using a different supplier, so I feel in a good place to talk about this as a present option.

First and foremost, Snapfish is reliable. The cards that I ordered for the Grandfathers arrived within 2 days, the book within 5 (I ordered on the evening of 30 May, the book arrived on 4 June). That is really good for a photo book. By contrast, the other supplier I used for the hen party book only arrived today despite being ordered on 26 May & I picked that one because it claimed to have speedy delivery times.

Software wise, I found the Snapfish software easy to use, although perhaps not quite as intuitive as I’d have hoped and it was a little annoying to have to upload every photo I wanted to use (rather than the other book where I downloaded the software and ordered straight from it, uploading as one at the end) but I’d take it with the reliable posting times any time.

I chose a linen bound hardback book and am really pleased with the quality. Some of the photos aren’t quite as good quality as I hoped as I had used what I thought were hi-res images but that’s a minor quibble. The cards aren’t super duper brilliant quality but the price was good and the speed of delivery fantastic. The prices for the photobooks are also really competitive and cheaper than the other company I used (and paid for) and the quality was just as good – these are not expensive archival quality but are excellent for what they are.

I also noticed that they have some great discounts on other products and cards. I have a friend who always gets her husband mugs every year with the kids photos on, which is lovely. If Marto drank anything other than coffee from an espresso cup I would have been tempted. There’s also free delivery and lots of other discounts here.

Be quick though – last date for orders is 10 June.

 

London Retro glasses giveaway

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I have an exciting giveaway today – a pair of London Retro glasses of your choice. Instagram followers may have seen me post a few times about a new pair of glasses that I received from London Retro via Glasses Direct.

I chose them as I love tortoiseshell and having been wearing a rounder style for the past few years, I thought I’d try the cats eye shape. Although I have an oval shaped face, it’s pretty small and I have high cheekbones, so quite a lot of frames just look too wide. I find choosing new glasses pretty hard – nothing ever seems to live up to the one pair that I had once that was perfect. These come pretty close though. The Glasses Direct website had some pretty helpful tips and you can even enter your facial measurements and it will suggest compatible frames.

I’ve been testing them for a couple of months as I wanted to make sure I was giving away/recommending a product that I actually liked and wear. I am pleased to report that the ordering process was easy, the glasses arrived promptly – and fit – and I love the frames. I’ve had loads of compliments about how lovely they are as well. Bonus – if you aren’t decided about which pair you want, try before you buy and have up to 4 pairs sent to you to help choose!

So, if you’d like to win your own pair in your prescription, just enter the draw using the widget below!

Good luck

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**Terms & Conditions: 1. To enter London Retro Glasses Direct glasses prize draw give-away you must follow Glasses Direct on Facebook. There are additional options for more entries. 2. The prize is 1 pair of London Retro Glasses Direct glasses or sunglasses in your prescription. No cash or alternative prizes will be given 3. The prize draw will start on 04.06.14 and end on 13.06.14 4. The winner will be picked from all valid entries 5. The winner will be notified directly via email. The winner must reply within seven days of receiving the email or a new winner will be picked at random. 6. I reserve the right to change the entry dates at any time, for any reason.**

Pip’s room (part one)

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Slowly, slowly we are making progress with Pip’s bedroom. The landlords had a daughter Pip’s age and they were living in the house before us, so the room is clearly a child’s room – the blind has animals on and the only storage space is a high wall mounted shelf with a rail suspended underneath it for hangers. (I forgot to style her bedroom or the clothes before I took these photos, so literally, what you see here is what the bedroom looks like).

At Christmas, Pip started climbing out her cot and so in this new place we bought a mattress for the floor, thinking we’d get a bed as well. In the event, John Lewis couldn’t deliver the two at the same time, so we just got the mattress and three months later, that’s still what she’s sleeping on. I gave Pip a lovely little white side table that I bought in an antiques place back when we lived in Somerset (you can see the legs in the photos above) and we have an Expedit for books and so on as well.

One thing that we wanted to address was the carpet. It is a white wool one which I wanted to protect with a rug. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to put down. I was thinking perhaps of using our old one with roads/carparks on it, but after all our damp problems in the previous house, it smelt a little and I thought something new might be better. We’ve been testing this sea adventure one from My Rug Store which we’ve been very pleased with. It’s a lovely bright colour which is working well as a focal point and will look even better once we sort out Pip’s bed. It isn’t actually wool but it’s really soft and nice to play on and lovely underfoot. We’ve been using it for the past month and even with repeated hoovering, it hasn’t lost any bits or shed everywhere. The only downside wasn’t even rug related – it’s that I didn’t really like the fact that it is listed as a boys rug, as a rug is a rug so far as I am concerned. However, I couldn’t fault the customer service or communication as it arrived the very next day.

Now we just need a bed and the room might be finished enough to show some more photos! My sister has painted the most amazing rabbit which I must photograph and add as well and I really need some frames to hang some of the other bits and pieces that I’ve collected for her walls.

Thanks to My Rug Store for the rug.

summer holiday inspired bedding

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I was given some John Lewis vouchers for Christmas and I didn’t spend at the time as I wanted to save them for our new house. Our bedroom in our rented flat is perhaps the least finished room of the house, and the one over which we’ve been able to have least input. There are built-in wardrobes to either side of the fireplace, which itself has been turned into an integral chest of drawers, with the wall between the wardrobes painted the kind of red that my Dad painted his study. Not really my colour. The landlord also wanted to leave their bed, which suited us as it is king sized thereby much more space when Pip sleeps between us, horizontally.

I’ve decided that we are going to use the vouchers to make the room more us – new bedding and perhaps even painting or wallpapering the wall (I’ll check with the Landlord first). The red is nice (all of the paint is Farrow & Ball – the cans are all in the cellar) but red is not my colour. I much prefer blue – I’ve only just dipped my toe in the search, but I loved this Sanderson St Ives wallpaper and I was also rather taken with a splatter print Sanderson wallpaper that I saw in Country Living as well. I think blue and white would make a much more relaxing palette but I am resigned to working with what I have and can’t change.

So, I want to find a duvet cover that works with the red wall, whilst still feels peaceful and relaxing. I liked the bold stripes of this Seasalt Cornish Stripe Bedding (1) and the red piping would tie in well to the red wall. Staying with that theme, the Seasalt Deckchair Stripe (4) would also play with the red wall and also makes me feel a little like I was on holiday (Cornwall and Norfolk are our favourite places to go, and I could see this in either location). I also found this Gant Stripe (5) option which also ties into the colour theme.

The other option is to focus on the red, without bringing in any blue and go all out floral. I liked this Cath Kidston Greenwich Rose (2) and this Country Living Avignon (3) option but also wondered how much M might not like it.

Above all, I need the bed linen to feel soft and inviting. I bought Pip some vintage candy striped sheets for her bed and they feel amazing. Sadly, I’ve never found anything larger than a double in a vintage shop (yet) and with the new king sized mattress, we really need something larger.

What do you think? Any recommendations?


Contains affiliate links

#morningstories

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My name’s Rachel and I’m terrible in the mornings.

Every few weeks I have a massive sense of guilt about what real adults, or real parents, are supposed to do. At the start of the year I managed to kick my habit of buying breakfast on the way to work and we started making coffee at home and eating breakfast together. I read somewhere that if you do (or don’t do) a habit for 21 days, it is broken. Well, I managed 3 months and then one too many business trips, juggling both working full time and doing a million things with our weeks meant that we ran out of coffee beans, then porridge oats, and before I even noticed, I’d slipped back into my old ways. 21 days, yeah right. Took me about 3 days to undo 3 months.

Real adults, I assume, get up when their alarm rings, rather than lying in bed til the last possible moment. Real adults don’t give their child a biscuit in the buggy on the way to nursery, so that they have to ask, yet again, for the staff to give the child some porridge. I guess I’m not yet a real adult – perhaps real adults also manage to remember to send their child with the right configuration of clothes, don’t plan subterfuge for ‘princess and superhero’ costume days (what do you mean a knight isn’t a super hero?) and don’t race in at 1 minute past 6pm to collect their child.

I did feel less guilty giving Pip a biscuit to eat in the buggy after belVita sent us some of their breakfast biscuits to try. I found the fact that combined with a drink and some fruit, they are in themselves a balanced breakfast and the little packets were surprisingly handy. Pip has enjoyed the plainer ones and I liked the chocolate and yoghurt ones. Probably something to keep on hand rather than for everyday (although that emergency seems to be every day at the moment) as I like in theory the concept of sitting down for breakfast en famille, but life just isn’t like that at the moment.  So we eat biscuits.

This post is an entry for #MorningStories Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at www.facebook.com/belVitaUK.

 

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