28.2.13

Bloggers day out at Bath Thermae Spa

On Monday myself and some lovely blogger friends (Nell, Lia and Abi) were lucky enough to be invited out to the day to Bath Thermae Spa. For Nell and I it was the first time we had left our little ones for any considerable about of time but I can't imagine a nicer occasion to do so! Tom took the day off to watch Wilf and I set off on the train with Abi, even getting a coffee at the platform and drinking it hot and in peace was a luxury ;)
Charlotte from the Spa greeted us and gave us a little tour around and an insight into the history of the building and the water and then we were left to relax in the pools. We started in the bottom pool, chatting in the jacuzzi we didn't realise how quickly time was flying and an hour had passed already. Although not all of us had met each other before there was no awkwardness and we found we had lots in common. I think you can get quite a good impression as to whether you will get on with people via their blogs and I was glad to see I was right. 
From there we moved to the roof top pool which was fantastic. I'd been to the Spa once before years ago with my mum as a Mother's day treat and the view was just as fantastic as I had remembered it. It was such a cold day and the air in contrast to the warmth of the pool made for some very atmospheric steam. I wish I could have taken a photo to have shown you as I don't think I could write well enough to do it justice. We chatted about our thoughts on returning to work, setting up businesses and our children (naturally). After this we took a trip down to the steam rooms, agreeing our favourite was the eucalyptus mint. We laughed at how we had all started the day not wishing to get our hair wet (what were we thinking!). 
The spa was kind enough to offer us all lunch in the Springs restaurant, we were treated to three amazing courses (even though I couldn't help describing each course in my head in the Masterchef voice as it arrived). Taking my time to savour drinking my glass of wine we talked through our thoughts on blogging, sponsorship, the balance between sharing your life and benefiting from the rewards (such as this day!). Sometimes it can be hard to explain the blogging world to people who are not in or aware of it, so it was nice then to talk through with people who 'get it'. 
Being at the baths reminded me what a lovely location it would be for a couples day out. I'm also dreaming about hiring out the private cross bath for a special occasion, you know just drinking champers lounging by the pool with your friends..ahh :)
Abi and I got the train back to Bristol and I was back to my little boy in time for his dinner whilst Tom told me about the fun day they had had together! All in all a pretty successful day, a break for me that was very appreciated plus a boys days together for Tom and Wilf!
p.s Abi totally giggled when she saw the Bath Rugby players semi naked 

26.2.13

Animal Stack


Finally I am getting round to illustrating here and there. On the weekend I created this print and a little animation to go with it, the animation was really fun to make and inspired by one I saw over on Mrs Eliot Books. It would have been a little easier if I hadn't somehow deleted Imovie and my Mac is too old to get a new version.. but after some investigating I downloaded a really simple movie application on trial, animator I am not (Tom is in fact very good at that sort of thing and I am trying to persuade him to get back into it). I saved the illustrations really small to make the animation so the quality turned out super grainy but I actually think that adds to the effect, ha! It reminds me of the animations I would 
watch on VHS as a child.




This print is now available in my Etsy shop for the price of ten english pounds :) 

Wish List

25.2.13

Digital footprints..

The debate on whether it is right to create a digital footprint for your child is one I have thought upon quite a lot. I set this blog up almost four years ago, originally to showcase my illustrations, then as a online diary of sorts of mine and Tom's life together. When I became pregnant I featured my ever growing bump weekly along with letters to Wilf to remind myself of the time and to show Wilf in future years of how I was feeling and how much he was loved already. Apart from checking to see that Tom was ok with having snippets of his life on the internet I never really worried about how much I was sharing (although Tom quite rightly pointed out once that I had divulged in a photograph the address I worked at and I deleted the image straight away).

I've never had any concern over the content I have shared about my life on the internet but thats the thing, it's my life and my decision, what about when I am sharing Wilf's life and he is not yet capable enough to make that decision?


Generally, we’re becoming more internet aware. We worry about viruses and spyware, phishing scams and identity theft – and take steps to protect our online activity...and yet there is a whole wave of internet bloggers sharing the lives of their children, me included. 

A blogging friend of mine who's baby was born just weeks after Wilf took the decision not to publish any photos of her child on her blog. Her reasoning being that as a child her parents had a photo of her on their wall that she hated, that all her friends saw when they came round and she loathed for them to look at it, yet her parents loved that photo. She made the very valid point that although she would think every picture of her daughter was beautiful her daughter could not make the decision to allow complete strangers to view photos that in years to come she may be embarrassed of. I think about this from time to time and think that when in fact I actually agree with her point I'm not sure that simply not putting pictures of Wilf on my blog would stop him having a digital footprint. Parents share photos on Facebook, via email and Flickr accounts, I think in this digital age there wont be a child born now that wont grow up to have had their image out there on the internet. 

But all of the networks and sharing channels are looking for new ways to make money.

For example, Instagram retreated in December 2012 from potential changes to terms of service that raised questions about who owned images on its network and how they might be used. I admit I was scared images of Wilf could be taken and used without my permission but of course this could have always happened with the images I put on my blog without my knowledge (the difference being Instagram were saying they would own these images).

On the flip side I honestly believe that having a blog has encouraged me to take more photos, record those moments and feelings I may well have forgotten. Before the internet, family albums were filled with pictures of a different kind: birthday parties, holidays, posed portraits taken by a school photographers. There needed to be a reason to make the effort to get out a camera. Pictures were private – glued to a page in an album on a bookshelf.

Today, no event is too small. Nothing too informal. Nothing that’s really private in the same way. Google even made a virtue of how parents can keep a digital journal of their children’s lives in its “Dear Sophie” TV ad campaign in 2011-12.

My hope is that my blog and these posts will be a positive remembrance for me and something for Wilf to read back on and discover what we did and how much he is loved.

How do you feel about sharing like this on the internet? I'd love to know! 

24.2.13

Link Love

So I've been featured in a few places lately that I keep meaning to mention, so here we go..
Firstly the lovely Ella interviewed me for her feature 'Give Me Space' where I talked about my work space (or lack of it!)
On the similar note Stacey Swift also featured me in her 'Friday Favourite' on her beautiful blog (this picture was taken when Wilf was about 8 weeks old and I still had very shinny pregnancy hair..wish my hair was like that now..)
Abby from OhAbbyDay did a little interview with me here
And finally IKEA Family Live featured our home as their 'home of the week' which pretty much made my day and Tom's week ;) (we are big IKEA fans around here)
(unrelated to the above I also love this post)
Are lifestyle blogs a new way for women to compare themselves and come up short?
Happy Sunday! xoxo

23.2.13

8/52

 'A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013'

Did you ever see such a cheeky little face? Doing what he does best, snacking on raisins 

Linking up with Jodi like so many of you are, its become a weekend ritual now to pop over to so many of the blogs I love, to see your pictures and also to find new ones. I am really enjoying this project, it feels like such a community don't you think? 

22.2.13

A Collection

1, I tried to make a Madeira cake from a recipe in Frankie magazine..it turned out to be a complete failure (my fault I'm sure not the recipe)
2, so I decided to use the very flat orangey sponge as a bottom layer for a trifle..then I went mad and made not one but two trifles..oh gosh we ate trifle everyday for a week (I don't want to eat anymore trifle for at least..a month)
3, Reading of course! 
4, Doesn't he look so grown all of a sudden? Caught a rare moment of stillness, storing raisins in those hamster cheeks of his

Life has been a funny old mixture of busy (work) and still (home life). Wilf and I are in more of a routine with naps and play dates, we are staying more local and I'm feeling very grounded. Maybe its the time of year but I feel its nice to be milling around at or close to our home. I have been cooking more recipes from scratch and freezing lots of hearty meals and soups and it feels good to know we have that sorted rather than scrabbling together something when we are both tired and hungry. 
Life on the whole is pretty great, I've always craved the simple life and I am feeling very at ease and content. 

What do you think of these first couple of months of the year? Are you dying for warmer weather or are you nesting like me?

20.2.13

The Best Things in Life

An illustration I drew a while back now for Mothers Meeting
Would you agree? 

19.2.13

What We Wore

 I warn you this post is very image heavy, one of my goals for this year was to try and tell a story with less pictures..but when its pictures of my family its so hard to be that selective!
What We Wore:

Tom -

Leather Jacket - from Start The Bus jumble sale
'Real Men Love Cats' jumper from this shop (a valentines gift from me)
Jeans - Full Circle (circa 2001) 
Trainers - Adidas Ivan Lendle (from Sue Rider charity shop) 
Shirt - H&M
Badge - Professor Pin from Grrr Feisty

Wilf -

Coat - JoJo Maman Bebe 
Cords - H&M girls section
Hat - knitted by his auntie Joc
Knitted boots - Padraig from Born

Fritha-

Jacket - New Look (circa 2007)
Blouse - Primark (last spring)
Skirt - charity shop
Boots - El Natural Lista
Necklace - Grrr Feisty
Gloves - knitted for me by a friends mum

I didn't write a post about my love for Tom on Valentines as I've shared it on my blog before. If you want to read about how we got together then look here
As I've got older and wiser (maybe) I learnt that love and relationships take work. When I was younger I thought if you didn't feel that all consuming head over heels, butterflies in your tummy love everyday then you weren't in love. 
We had fun taking these pictures, and then we had an argument. About what, I can't remember and even though on that walk back I was grumping about this and that (in my head) an hour later all was forgotten and I think maybe that is what love is. I will always love Tom but sometimes its a love you have to work at and sometimes the person you love can also drive you round the bend  ;)

I won this necklace and fox badge by Grrr Feisty on this blog

18.2.13

Our week/weekend in pictures

We spent the weekend celebrating our nephew's second birthday party. It was so lovely to see Wilf playing with the older children confidently. We are really starting to imagine how him and his cousins will be able to play together in the future. Wilf is starting to really adore his big cousin, wanting to sit by him and feed him little carrot puffs. I'm not sure Evan enjoys the attention quite so much ;)
Despite saying countless times that I am happy to wait until Wilf is much older before entertaining the idea of another child a teeny tiny part of me saw my SIL and her family of four and thought it would be kinda nice, and the picture of Tom and his niece? Well come on, just look at it!
Don't worry I came to my senses later that day ;)

A lot of the photographs I've taken lately have been with my phone, I've gotten more and more into Instagram and connecting with others on there. I rarely post my instagram photos on here as one I feel they have already been seen and two I worry the quality would not really be good enough. However there are some moments from this past week that have been too good not to share so here you go.
 Three in a bed, family naps are the best (photo taken with my left arm) I've missed snuggling with this one. If only he wouldn't get up and crawl off I would co-sleep again in a shot
 A little boy and his cat
We don't have a car so Wilf  has rarely travelled in one. This weekend he went in a forward facing seat for the first time and looked oh so big! (plus I'm kinda chuffed I managed to get this shot with my Iphone). I think he was mostly bemused by the whole experience. We usually take the train everywhere, in fact we travelled to Cardiff the other day and he had the best time chatting with the couple in the seat behind us, it was a break for me.
A friend of mine is getting married so we went along to look at her trying on her dress (which looked beautiful). Wilf had a great time crawling around and I think I got some good exercise chasing after him to get nowhere near the white white dresses! 

Hope you all had fantastic weekends! What did you get up to? xx

17.2.13

Printing Thoughts

You may have noticed over the past few months or so a change in my blog. I've mentioned it before but when I started this blog it was mainly to showcase my illustrations, then it became a lifestyle blog, then a baby blog. Now after an intense first year of motherhood I am trying to focus more on my art and try to be more successful in that field. Ever since I was a little girl I'm always just wanted to be an illustrator (and mother).
me as a child drawing, clearly very still as a butterfly decided to land on me

When I left on maternity leave at my old job my boss was kind enough to give me a couple of gifts. One a mug saying 'mother knows best', mugs had been his Christmas gift each year I had worked there and something he had only started on my arrival at the company. My colleague thought that he had become decidedly more friendly since I started there and the mugs were a sign of 'changing work environment'. I would have been more than happy with the mug but there was also an envelope he told me to open when I got home. In it contained a generous cheque from his personal bank account, I think we all knew that I wouldn't be returning to full time work after maternity leave and so it was a leaving present as well as a maternity leave gift. I'm really still so grateful that someone would value my work enough to help me out this way.
I chose to use this money to buy a really decent home printer. I imagine he thought the money would be used to towards the baby but my reasoning was that this was investing in me actually being able to work from home as an artist. After a lot of research I bought an A3 printer and I'm really happy with it. Although I've not actually got round to printing A3 prints I have used it for some of my smaller prints and the quality is fantastic.
There is something about seeing your work in a larger size, I'm so used to working in A5 or A4. When I was younger I would be chastised by teachers by only using such a small amount of a page, I was scared to see my work in a large scale. I mentioned before how my in my degree I wanted to be an children's book illustrator. 

these are extracts from my then book...it wasn't my greatest work but it was fun to do!

After my exhibition I gave three of my banner prints to my (then six year old) brother and he had them hung above his bed for a good few years. Actually now I come to think of it something like that would be great for Wilf's room too.
A friend and I were discussing other steps we could do in promoting ourselves as artists, bouncing ideas off each other with other ways in which to produce art work that isn't just prints of our work. I know that whenever I order something I love it when it comes with a beautiful postcard or cute badge as it makes you feel all that little bit more special and I love the surprise element.


There is still lots to work out when it comes to working as a freelance illustrator. I am not very business minded if truth be told (as I think many creatives struggle with) my brain doesn't quite work like that. I'm also desperately trying to work out how to fit in my creative passions with being a stay at home mum but I'm sure I will work it out some day...right??

16.2.13

7/52

'A portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013'
We have just returned from your cousins second birthday. This picture is taken when we found you back in the dinning area cruising everybody's leftovers. First to the table a last to leave ;)

It was so lovely to Wilf so confident and enjoying playing with all the older children, happy to explore by himself and even go off and have a little boogie. The gap between Wilf and his cousin is closing and I love to think of them as being great friends in years to come. I don't know that I was ever a confident child (and I know from what Tom tells me he was far from one) so it always surprises me that Wilf is so self assured. He is not really a loud child but he's more than happy to get stuck in with other children and go off adventuring, occasionally he will search for Tom or I but (unless tired) he's pretty great in social situations. 

Playing along with Jodi

14.2.13

A Collection

1, A morning routine, playing with his toys sitting on his treasure chest. He loves these birdhouses 
2, The old chocolate factory, perhaps one day free Steiner School in our local area.. 
3, Wilf and his friend Leelah (who's mum was kind enough to watch Wilf for a little while last week whilst I hid upstairs franticly replying to emails)
4, Another shot of the chocolate factory, don't you just love that red brick?
5, Reading of course (please mind the mess in the rest of the shot, ey!)
6, My little baby is now a toddle, doesn't he look so grown up here?

I have been nominated for Best Photography in the Mad Blog Awards (amongst others, thanks again SO much) if you would like to cast your nominations I would be as happy as a happy thing :) nominations close on the 18th hence me being annoying and going on about it!

13.2.13

Foxy Foxy

So because I am some kind of silly with no brain I just realised I never actually mentioned on here that I made these T-shirts! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter I'm sure you will have heard me go on (and on!) about them by now but it just occurred to me I really should give them a little mention on my blog too!
Anyway, I currently am only stocking 12-18m and 18-24 months as unfortunately the T-Shirts only come in this size and I want to continue using this brand due them being made ethically, as soon as I've worked out sourcing bigger sizes I will let you know! Pop over to my shop to see more details if you like xx
p.s if you like foxes and don't want to see the urban fox culled then please please sign this petition 

11.2.13

GlassesUSA


A little while before Christmas GlassesUSA.com contacted me to ask if I would like a pair of their specs. After having a quick look through their frames I gladly took them up on the offer as they had a really wide range of cool looking glasses and it was also the kick I needed to get my prescription reviewed.
I've needed to wear glasses (to read/draw/watch TV) since I was about 8 I think, back when I was in primary school I was beyond excited to know I needed glasses, even when the ones I was given were some gigantic tortoise shell NHS ones. The novelty wore off though and although I had upgraded to some more adult frames I'd been pretty bad at remembering to wear them. Tom on the other hand has really bad eye sight, the kind where he wouldn't be able to see at all without glasses, he had laser eye surgery before I met him so I've never really know him as a glasses wearer although he really suited the pair I picked out. I guess time will tell how Wilf's eye sight fairs. Although my eye sight isn't that bad, not wearing them does result in headaches and tired eyes so anything to encourage me to use my eyeglasses is a plus.
I also wanted to get my eyes tested again as I had not long ago fallen over and bashed my right eye pretty bad (it was pretty gross, I had a red eye for my birthday too). Turns out all is fine but it's super important to get you eyes checked anyway as they can also look for signs of certain diseases at your check up

With my renewed prescription I headed to their site to look for some prescription glasses, the site has a neat virtual mirror (seen below) so you can try as many frames you like online and check out how you would look with them on. I found this quite tool quite helpful as sometimes the frames you think will look the nicest don't really suit your face shape, I made this mistake with the last pair I owned and subsequently rarely wore them (as I am vain!)

I ended up getting the Wood Full Frame in the Wayfarer style which I think suited the shape of my face best

All in all my experience with GlassesUSA was really positive, they have a great range of frames including wooden ones which I thought was really unusual. The only downside was that I was stung by import tax which is always a gamble when ordering anything from the states. 
GlassesUSA are currently offering a 10% discount on all orders with code 'blog10' and their refer a friend programme offers you $30 off when you buy glasses for the first time.  

9.2.13

6/52





























'a portrait of my child, once a week, every week in 2013'

Reading, always reading. You point to the pictures in your giant book of animals every morning and get me to tell you what each one is. This is your favourite page.

I sat staring at the screen for a good five minutes before whittling down my images from two to one. Each held different moments and told different stories of our week. If nothing else this project is a great exercise on being decisive. I noticed at the end of last year when looking back through blog posts that a lot were on the image heavy side and told myself I would try harder this year to be more selective with my photos. Although that is hard of course when taking photos of your children, in which you seem to like each one for different reasons in one way or another. 

5.2.13

Suddenly..


Suddenly..
You have more hair, even a little curl at the bottom of your head
You are understanding more and more words and when asked you can point to your nose, my nose and your daddy's nose. 
You enjoy actions on song and as soon as you hear the tune will start mimicking the commands, clapping your hands, stamping your feet or blowing kisses
You enjoy reading on your own and will lift the flaps and exclaim in surprise 'turtle!' (even if its not a turtle)
You are more confident on your feet and will practise walking a little longer each day
You can recognise things by their names, ask you to bring me the 'owls' and you will collect all your owl toys over (aaand there are a few owl related things in our house!)
You enjoy colouring with your crayons (when you manage to get them the right way round)
You take an interest in the pattens on your clothes, sketching the designs out with your fingers or pointing, pulling your T-Shirt out to see clearer and laughing 
You are a dare devil, you climb everywhere and then stand one legged and triumphant as I have a heart attack 
You are happy playing with other children or by yourself but ever so often you scan the room until you find my face and reassured continue your play 
You are gentle, you give hugs and kisses and when you are tired you place your head on my chest and look up at me smiling 
You point to the door as soon as you have gotten into your bath, smile and say 'daddy' as you know this means he will be walking through the door at any minute. When he does he sneaks up the stairs and pokes his head over the top and you smile big and laugh 'daddy!'.
You blow kisses 
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