30.3.13

13/52

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

No longer a baby for sure, look at this little boy, with such a cheeky smile! Everyone says you look like me but I just see your daddy. 

This week has flown by! I'm not sure if it was the fact that we were away last weekend or that illustration and blog work is building but it has felt non stop. One day this past week Wilf did two sets of hour and a half naps and I got so much work done in those three hours, it was a huge weight off my shoulders. Always good to be busy though of course.
Tom now has a week or so off for Easter and I am very much looking forward to the extra pair of hands. Hope you all have a fantastic Easter, I think we may be planning an Easter egg hunt. 

What are your plans for Easter? xo

29.3.13

The Orbit G2 - First Impressions

picture taken with the panniers down as I had just been shopping

If you follow me on Instagram/Twitter or Facebook you will have already seen a few pictures of me out and about with this stroller, I've had lots of lovely comments asking for more information on it/how I am getting on with it so here I am going to tell you a little bit more.

Orbit along with Born have designated me the position of Orbit Brand Ambassador. What this basically means is that we have been given a Orbit G2 to test for six weeks and complete a few challenges along the way. If I get on with the stroller I will be lucky enough to keep it until Wilf has grown out of it and then we will look into options such as donating it for charity.

The challenges I will be completing and reviewing are:

1.     A normal day: Folding the stroller and putting it in your boot.
2.     Out & About: Taking the stroller on the Luas / public transport / escalators / airport.
3.     Health kick: Taking the Orbit off road e.g. walking on rough terrain / out for a jog.
4.     Socialising: Take the Orbit out for coffee with the girls or lunch with the lads.
5.     Babysitter / grandparent challenge: Can they dig it?

I have had the Orbit now for roughly two weeks, I picked it up from Born where the staff showed me how to assemble it/fold it down again, rotate the seat and attach the panniers (or paninis as I later told Tom..he had a good laugh about that one). The only thing I forgot to ask about was the swivel lock on the wheels so I did walk half way down the street with one front wheel locked and one swivelling like a shopping trolley that only drives in one direction. As soon as I got to the bread shop a little down the road and actually looked at the wheels it was simple to see how to lock/unlock them without looking at any instructions and from there it was smooth riding.

Our original pushchair was a Mama's and Papa's Sola. We never really did any pushchair research when I was pregnant as we knew we were going to be getting the Sola second hand from a friend but I knew it was important to me to have one that was could face me rather than outwards. We've really gotten on well with the Sola and found it to be very compact in comparison with other pushchairs but I've never been hugely confident with collapsing it. The first thing I was really impressed with on the Orbit is its incredibly simple to collapse. I've not quite managed the one handed collapse but it is as simple as removing the chair with two clips, then a simple click and twist of the handle and the whole thing collapses very swiftly and compactly.

The stroller is stream line which is perfect for city living and also for victorian hallways. Even with  both the panniers open its only marginally bigger than our old stroller and with the panniers folded is much slimmer. I would rate the addition of the panniers as one of the best elements of the stoller. As someone who doesn't drive we are used to cramming our shopping underneath our old stroller, which could fit two bags at a push, (once just before Christmas I didn't balance them right which meant I lost half a wheel of stilton of which I'm still pretty upset about). The top picture shows the pushchair with one of them open, they also come with a water proof cover in case of rain or if you don't want the world to know you just bought a 'Ultimate New York Cheesecake'.

The Orbit doesn't come with a huge amount of storage underneath but rather a cargo pod which you can use as a change bag and also to keep the raincover and other little bits in. The lack of space below is more than made up with the storage in the side panniers above though. You can also wear the pod if needed with the addition of a strap. Here's what we currently have in ours.

excuse the socks! 

 The Eco Bit: 

 I'm quite a gadgety type of person so I was really excited by the cup holder and tray attachment and the snack tray for Wilf. One of the reasons I was so excited to be testing this stroller is that the Orbit is a built to be eco friendly, the trays are BPA-free and made out of PVC-free polypropylene and the all the fabrics used meet the 'Oeko-Tex standard 100 compliance' . This is a standard that sets limits on almost 200 potentially harmful substances and chemicals. You can find out more about the potentially dangerous substances this standard address here. The Orbit is also the worlds first stroller to boast rain shields made from a clear PVC-free material.      

Within the first half an hour of using the pushchair the man in the bakery, the lady on the train and a lady who recognised me from playgroup all commented on the stroller for different reasons. It certainly does attract people's attention!  


Whilst my first impressions have been very positive I will be testing how the Orbit fairs in different scenerios and situations and reporting back on my opinion of them. Tom has also agreed to guest post (for the first time!) over here on his opinion, Tom by nature delights in being a bit of a grumpy old man so I'm interested to read his review myself!    

p.s I had to include this Instagram picture of a recent shopping trip, isn't this just the best biscuit eating face?

28.3.13

Our Weekend in Pictures


Birmingham..or as my dad described it as..Soviet Russia 

Thought I should post these quickly before it becomes another weekend! Wow how did that happen so quickly??
Last weekend we took a trip to visit my Granny in Telford, as its a pretty long journey there and back we decided to break it up with a stop over in Birmingham..or Narnia! I've never seen so much snow, crazy!
We had very smooth journey down, Tom and Wilf had a little nap together and I got to drink hot coffee which is always very much appriciated. We spent the afternoon with friends at Birmingham Sea Life Centre and then Wagamamamamas for lunch as its a favourite for all of us (Wilf is probably as much of a fan of their sticky rice as I am their Yasai Katsu Curry).



(Our new stoller the Orbit - an introductory post about this to come tomorrow)

In the evening headed to Veged Out, a place which Tom had discovered when looking for veggie friendly places to eat. I'm so glad we went, it's such a lovely community restaurant with the most welcoming staff of volunteers and yummy veggie food. If you are ever in the area you must go!



We all slept pretty badly at the hotel as Wilf was incredibly excited to be in a new fun room. In fact he decided to wake us all up at 12 and play around for another two hours..then up again at his usual 5.30. Luckily the coffee provided at breakfast was pretty strong. 

I don't have any photos of my Granny and Wilf or even my dad which is a shame. I think the ordeal of actually getting from the station to her house through untrodden thick snow sort of made me forget I had brought my camera, we were all so tired when we arrived it was actually hard work to stay awake.

All in all though it was a pretty successful trip, Wilf is a good traveller and was on great form playing with my little brother and making friends on the train charming the older ladies.

Do you live in a part of the country that was hit with this heavy snow? When we returned to Bristol it was like a different country, cold yes but no sign of snow at all!

p.s dont forget to enter the Archies Boutique giveaway! 

27.3.13

House Tour - Our Kitchen


I've been meaning to share with you snippets of my house for quite a while, the only problem is this involves something I'm not great at...cleaning. So to combat this I am going to show you sneak peeks of each room rather than full shots (heaven forbid I actually tidy the whole place ;))


So here it is, our kitchen. To say it has been a labour of love would be be something of a lie, it's been a labour of stress/angst and finally three years after we first moved in, love. The kitchen when we first bought our place was liveable but hugely dated, on top of that the previous owners had tried to bodge jobs here and there to make it look more presentable but ultimately just make more of a mess and more work correcting the issues. Our kitchen floor for example was stuck down with spray adhesive (the kind that says in big bold letters 'not for vinyl tiles') at times we were able to laugh at the randomness of the previous DIY but at times it was just baffling!


We had looked into getting out kitchen completely ripped out and redone but finances were tight and by the time quotes had been arranged I was pregnant and due to time scales and costs it just wasn't an option. Instead we were lucky enough to have the help of one of Tom's oldest friends come visit and together they re-did our kitchen. By this time I was eight months pregnant, we knew that it was now or never and we had been living with mats on a uneven concrete floor for the past year. I didn't want to be living in the same way once our baby was born and we were also aware that finances would only get tighter and renovating with a baby in the house even harder.


Doing the kitchen ourselves did give us the freedom to really put our own stamp on it however. Tom and I are both big fans of 1950's style kitchens and if we didn't have a galley way kitchen we would have loved some stand alone units. We did mange to find this incredible vintage dresser from Ebay however who were willing to deliver (the only problem with not driving is I find we often miss out on great finds as we can't pick them up!). I think it really makes our kitchen and we were even luckier to find it in our favourite colour, turquoise!




Tom has this endearing/annoying habit of needing to sing whenever ever he does anything (and especially when cooking) but without something to sing along too he resorts to making up songs about me..I'm glad to say this radio has almost put a stop to that and aesthetically looks very pleasing on our dresser.



As you can see most of the rest of our kitchen is very bright! We are not fans of subtle colour and you wont find many pastels in our home, its all about the brights! The candelabra was an item I bought back when I had finished university, I loved it for its gypsy style brights. My then boyfriend was really not a fan so I knew I was on to a winner when Tom not only liked it but bought me the matching chandelier for my birthday!

The vintage pans are from my Granny and I always count myself lucky to have been able to have been the one who inherited them. I get so many comments about them whenever I post pictures of them, I believe the design was also made onto items other than pans but have yet to stumble across any.


One of the parts I love about our kitchen so much is it really looks lived in, we have magnets and tokens stuck to our fridge and our cupboards are far from ordered but instead include a variety of exciting colours, bowls and jars.


When we were discussing the things that were most important to us in terms of our 'dream' kitchen my single 'must have' was gas hobs. Whenever I have moved into a place having gas hobs over electric was a deal breaker. Tom even tried to convince me that a induction hob would be the way forward, a few hysterical tears were shed by me on that one (ridiculous I know but I was pregnant).


When our weekly trip to IKEA's bargain corner (don't judge we live really close and they have delicious luminous cakes) meant we came across a nice looking ex display gas cooker for just that bit cheaper, it also cleans itself although we haven't quite worked out how yet!



What I love most about our kitchen is it is really 'us' from the bright mix match colours to the vintage pans and odd mugs. Sure it would be great if it was a little bigger but I love it! Some of my favourite moments are in our kitchen, me cooking or stacking the dishwasher and Wilf pulling all the pots and pans out of the cupboards or 'helping' me with the laundry.

What is your kitchen like? Did you like me decide to completely renovate at a impractical time? (I know my friend Wendy did exactly the same as me). If you have done any kind of kitchen tour on your blog please post a link below, I LOVE nosing into people's homes :)


p.s if you wondering what our kitchen looked like before I have some insta pics here and here of the renovating process, it's amazing just how much we had to throw away. I'd definitely recommend hiring a big skip if you're planning on renovating your own kitchen. It made things far easier for us. Like always I wish I had taken proper 'before and after' shots but you just don't think of it at the time do you? 

25.3.13

Bristol Fashion Week Spring Summer 2013

On Friday I was invited to the Bristol Fashion Week Live Blogging Show at Cribbs Causeway.

The last fashion show I attended was the Hobbs Fashion Show three years ago now. Tom had surprised me with VIP tickets which such a lovely gesture for a few reasons,  one its a pretty ace to have a boyfriend that surprises you with tickets to a fashion show, two that he was willing to come and sit through a fashion show for me and three because all proceeds go to the Meningitis Trust which having had Meningitis is a charity close to my heart. 

So it having been a good few years since I had attended a show and having been pregnant or looking after a baby for the past two years I was very excited to dip back into the world of fashion. My lovely neighbour offered to watch Wilf for a couple of hours until Tom got home, (the first time anyone other than family had watched him for that length of time) and I made my way to the event. 

Upon arriving I was approached by the lovely Gina who was part of arranging the Live Blogging Show where she took my picture and made me feel welcome. I then had the pleasure of meeting Bonnie and Briley as we took our seats, second from the front row. Briley made my day by asking if I was in university *fist pump* to which I had to come clean that it had been six years since I had graduated and I am now a mother of a toddler. 

I also had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Laura who is a sponsor on my blog, always so nice to put faces to names and we got on really well (as I knew we would). 

So without further adieu here are my top picks from the show:

The most beautiful florals by John Lewis
 John Lewis again, this time Neons. I am a sucker for anything colourful and they totally won me over at the show.
 Beach wear by Fat Face, love love the nautical bikinis and bows
 English riviera style from Marks and Spencer, made me long for a holiday (especially as it was a very grey and dismal day and now snow!)
 To end the show the presenters ( hairdresser to the stars Andrew Barton and celebrity stylist Mark Heye) joined the models on stage for some Gangnam Style dancing. As I clearly live in a cave in regards to the charts the whole Gangnam Style thing almost passed me by. That was until Tom listened to it whilst working on the garden one time and showed me the video, so the pop culture reference wasn't quite lost on me ;) I think if I had had to ask Briley what it was I certainly would have shown my age, ha!
After the show we headed back inside the mall to collect our tote goody bags. The over zealous member of staff in charge of the bags almost didn't let me pick mine up. Eventually after returning to the pavilion to ask for a voucher which I must have initially missed I was handed mine. In it included lots of free samples of various products, some Tea Pigs and snacks. One of the samples was a small tube of Olay 3 point cream of which the full size bottle allegedly retails at £340 (!) I've tried said magic potion for three days now and can only say its given me bad skin hmmm I'll keep you updated on that one..

Laura, Bonnie and I had a good chat whilst waiting for our bags, it's funny I guess that I naturally gravitated to the other bloggers who were mums! I did really love that the event wasn't just tailored to the fashion student blogger but for all ages and all backgrounds and that the models also ranged in ages and sizes with collections for children too. 


Bonnie and I then headed back to the train station where oddly enough I then bumped into a illustrator friend I've never before met in person (and who lives in an entirely different part of the county to me). Sorry Emmeline if I was a bit confused for a second! 


I had such a fantastic afternoon at the show and made some new friends which is always a real bonus. It was really nice to do something that wasn't parenting focussed for a change and reignite that side of me that adores the creativity of fashion for a little while! 


P.S I also took a few Vine videos of the show which you can see here, here, here, here and finally here!

23.3.13

12/52

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

Wilf, many Wilf's. Taken at the underwater city of Atlantis..or Birmingham Sea Life Centre, whichever you would like to believe. 

We've spent the day hanging out with new (for me) friends and their sweet boy Dexter. Both toddlers bounding about the aquarium and later eating their sticky rice with gusto. Now Tom and Wilf are cuddled together napping in our hotel bed as I type as it snows outside the window.

My favourite shot from last week would have to be the beautiful Lamb

Side note - I realise last weeks picture was also at an aquarium. I promise we don't just travel to different cities on some kind of aquarium road show, although it would seem that way! 

21.3.13

Celia Birtwell for UNIQLO - Wish List

I think I'm a little a lot obsessed with the Celia Birtwell for UNIQLO range
Celia Birtwell is a British textile designer whose success has made her an iconic figure. She is most famous for her collaborative work with fashion designer Ossie Clark, together they represented the epitome of 60s and 70s style. 
Here are a few of my top picks from the collection:
1, Stole - £9.90
2, Dress - £29.90
3, Tunic - £12.90
4, Leggins - £12.90
5, Dress - £29.90
6, Shirt - £19.90

The full range launches today! See these items and more here

20.3.13

What Mama Wore

What Mama Wore:

Coat - Dorothy Perkins (in the 2012 January sale - £14!)
Cardigan - Start the Bus Jumper sale
Dress - Vintage Christmas present from Tom 
Belt - Primark
Badge - Topshop 
Boots - c/o Hunter

Tom is pretty fantastic at buying gifts, and at buying me clothes. Christmas just gone I got no less than three vintage dresses that I love. I cant really wear the other two until I finish breastfeeding but this one gets a lot of use. 
The owl badge is probably the last thing I've bought in Topshop and that was almost four years ago now. Whilst I actually like the look of a lot of their styles still every time I step in there I feel a million years old, maybe its a mum thing! 

This cardigan will always be the best three pounds I've ever spent and I've lived in these Hunters since they arrived. So comfy! 

5 Great Ways to Nurture Creativity in Your Children


(This is a guest post from Laura Potts, mother, writer and cat lover)

All children show creative expression – help them hold onto and make the most of it
My mum rings.

“I just found some things I’d saved from when you were little and - you know, you’re a real artist!”

This comes as a shock to me, until I remember that my mum is an unremitting force of positive reinforcement and blinding optimism, especially when it comes to her children and grandchildren. It’s not that she’s lying, it’s just that she chooses to see her own truth. Her own warped, misguided, completely unrealistic truth.

I only have the haziest recollections of drawing, but what I remember clearly are the hours I spent writing, creating little books and magazines. I decided early on I wanted to be a writer. I had romantic notions of the concept, and all else fell by the wayside.
But then something happened. I guess as I got older and became more self-conscious, my confidence ebbed away along with my creative instincts. I still loved writing and had the tools to tell someone else’s stories, so I became a journalist. But creative writing? It met the same fate as my withered drawing career.

Now I watch my own children lost in their imaginations, weaving intricate tales as they mould Play-Doh, finding extraordinary things in clouds and sketching fanciful worlds that, yes, I think make them ‘real artists.’ Or at least show their potential. And I wonder: what might they do with it if I found ways to nurture their creativity? Could they stick with it and develop beyond my own stunted literary ambitions?

I’ve decided I owe it to them to try, so with a little help I’ve compiled a list.


1.     Take notice, show interest. Make time to actually listen to their stories, or ask them more about their drawings. How did they come up with the idea? What else might happen? What do they like about it? Is there anything else they want to find out about it (for example: look up different patterns of butterfly wings, or see what whales eat or how skyscrapers are built.) But don’t meddle; kids need space to let their own ideas take flight, without mum tethering them back down to Earth with nagging questions. Know when to poke your nose in, and when to keep it out.

2.     Make space and don’t mend. Find a dedicated space or at least some storage trays or boxes for their projects. Without encouraging obsessive hoarding (I cannot think of many things worse for the creative process), hold onto stuff that can’t be fixed but might find new life as an artwork or storybook. Bits of ribbon or old birthday cards or magazines, wheels that have come off a toy car, broken sea shells, even a favourite old t-shirt. Collect pine cones, interesting pebbles, colourful leaves or seed heads. If the thought of such seemingly useless clutter give you hives, try to keep it in check and remember you can always tidy it away at the end of the day. And if it’s something that’s really trashed, it can probably make a quiet exit one night after bedtime.

3.     Open their eyes to possibilities. Visit museums, the theatre and concerts. Go to storytelling sessions or look for competitions for photography, artwork, short stories or recipes in children’s magazines or websites such as the RSPB – anything to show your children the possibilities for sharing their work and seeing what other kids have created. Find out about classes or workshops, especially during school holidays.

4.     Do things together. Whether it’s colouring alongside your child, drawing a picture together, creating a story in fragments (have each family member write down a sentence or go around in a circle making up bits of a story) or teaching them to snip, sew or sculpt. Or listen to music, get them to dance with you or make ‘instruments’ out of objects.

5.     Creativity flows when children feel safe, secure and supported. Your children may show an ability, but too much pushing could turn them off. Let them have freedom to explore their interests, but just because your hobby is watercolours don’t expect them to follow in your footsteps. 

Ah, I may struggle with taking that last one to heart. But with a few exceptions – coffee for adults, pine-cone art and Tupperware ‘percussion’ for kids – it’s advice that could well serve parents and children alike.

As for my kids’ drawings, I reserve the right to think of them as ‘real art,’ even if no one else ever does. Maybe my mum isn’t so delusional after all.

Laura Potts is a freelance editor and writer, a mother to toddlers and teenagers, and an artist in the mediums of crayons, Play-Doh and finger paint. Before moving to Norfolk in 2005, she was a reporter on daily newspapers in the USA. She believes a balanced diet contains caffeine.

Image source 
one, two

19.3.13

Our Weekend In Pictures

On Saturday we woke up at 5.30 (as usual) mooched around in bed whilst Wilf watched Kipper (yep that no TV thing is out the window now we realise we can doze for another 45minutes every morning) and got up to go to the zoo. As we are always pretty much dressed and ready by 7 we thought we would actually use that to our advantage and head out to breakfast before Wilf's nap. As luck would have it we timed everything just perfectly enough to be able to catch the train to Clifton, enjoy breakfast and have Wilf in his pushchair for 9am where he took a nap on our stroll over to the zoo. 
As much as I am not a huge fan of our early morning schedules (thanks Wilf!) there are advantages in that we were able to enjoy the run of the zoo with only three or four other sleep deprived parents and their kiddos. We grabbed coffees and chatted as Wilf slept and laughed at the fact that when he awoke he was confronted with a Howler Monkey. I've actually never been to the zoo and seen all the animals awake before, 9am is it seems the time to be there. 
It was amazing to have a private view of the penguins and seals and the first time really Wilf has actually taken any of it in. He had a blast running here and there and loved pressing his nose up against the glass of the aquarium and seeing all the fantastic species of fish up close. 

It's kind of crazy to have done so much with your day but be home by 11.30. In fact I was due to attend a blogging fashion event in the afternoon but since then I've been hit with a cold that had seriously wiped my energy, anyone else feeling that way? Change of season perhaps? 

P.S as Google are being big silly's I've switched over to Blog Lovin and would love it if you could follow my blog over there  (just click the lady on the left hand side of my blog). If any of you are in the same predicament could you leave your url in the comments below? I seriously need to build up my reading list again and would feel awful if this switch meant I lost touch with some of you! xo

Edit - Because a few people have asked by Skirt is from Ruby Belle which is the sister company to my good old favourite Fever London
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