A household obsessed… with Xfactor!

Anyone who has read my blog at this time of year will know that I am a tad obsessed with all things Autumnal and Wintery. I love seeing the leaves change colour, cosy evenings in front of our wood burner and lighting an unhealthy amount of candles, I knew this time was just around the corner a few weeks ago when an advert for Xfactor popped on to the TV. Admit it… once you’ve seen that first episode you know you’re on the run up to the most magical time of the year! I love everything about it – the rubbish contestants, the rare amazing one, making it in to a proper night in and placing a bet on my favourite to win!

As an embarrassingly big Cheryl Cole (I can barely say let alone spell her new name) I was delighted to realise this quiz had me lined up as her out of all the judges… I didn’t cheat, honest! If I was 5 sizes smaller, with 6 inches more hair and a team of stylists I like to think I could maybe pull off her look so I had a look around to see if I could find some high street alternatives to some of her recent Xfactor styles.

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If you want to give the amazing outfit she wore for this years launch a whirl then I’ve found a slightly safer version of the gorgeous blue jumpsuit she sported, it’s slightly more practical than her original number but would look amazing with killer heels for a night out – JUMPSUIT // SHOES.

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The second look I’ve loved from Cheryl is the classic white crop top and black trousers she had for the London auditions. A much more wearable style than the others, and althought I won’t be getting my stomach out in the near future this is definitely one that I’d like to replicate. TOP // TROUSERS // SHOES // NECKLACE.

Well… that’s got me excited for Saturday night now! I can’t wait to see what Cheryl (and Mel B) wear next!

Disclosure: I was provided with a voucher to cover my next Cheryl-esque shopping spree in exchange for this post!

Memories of washing baby clothes

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. (#collectivebias) and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

This time four years we were just coming up to the final leg of our first pregnancy, we had just over 3 months to wait until we would become parents. It was a surreal time, I was kind of floating through work each day not quite believing that I was soon to be a Mum to a tiny little human being that me and Dean had made together. On my days off I would shuffle brand new white furniture around the yet to be used nursery, I’d flick through books that told me ‘What to Expect’ and I would do washing… lots and lots and lots of washing.

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I can clearly remember being in the supermarket and checking around to make sure no one was watching before I lifted a few bottles of laundry detergent to my nose and smelt them… weird I know! But I was hyper concious of the fact that this smell would be forever associated with those first precious months of our new baby. And they were. Whenever I catch that scent of fresh washing it takes me back. I remember spending whole days in comfy clothes with Ed Sheeran’s first album playing in the background curled up with my tiny little Francesca. I remember tucking fresh super soft blankets around her after clearing up a midnight poosplosion. I remember doing all that washing again when I was pregnant with Georgiana and sniffing the pile of clothes that were waiting for her, and crying because I was so happy and so scared of bringing another baby in to the world. I remember the evening that our tiny 9 day old Georgie was admitted to hospital, packing a bag that would see us through the next fortnight with her in a high dependency bay and I remember her special blanket and rabbit smelling like home – it was such a small thing but it made everything less scary.

I love washing the girls clothes in Persil now as I feel like I can snatch back those tiny moments for just a minute, I adore the age our girls are at right now but sometimes it’s wonderful to be transported back to those precious baby days. I walked through Asda at the weekend to find a fresh batch of Persil and Comfort, and I spied a pregnant lady on the same aisle and I liked to think that she was doing exactly what I was doing 4 years ago… maybe without the weird bottle sniffing though!

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At the moment Persil and Comfort are teaming up with Tommy’s for a special campaign – #Mums4Tommys. One in four women will lose a baby during pregnancy or childbirth, and Tommy’s charity are pushing research for cause and prevention of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth aswell as educating parents to be about health in pregnancy. Last month we had the truly devastating news that two of our friends had lost their beautiful baby girl Ophelia just one day before her due date. Watching Sarah and Paul go through this horrendous situation has been heartbreaking: from having to tell friends and family the news to planning Ophelia’s funeral and beyond – it’s something no parents should EVER have to deal with and I for one will support Tommy’s by buying Persil and Comfort at Asda so they can prevent other people from having to go through this in the future.

WEDnesday : 5 things that are inspiring our day

I said last week that it’s hard to know where to start planning our wedding. It’s time like this that I kind of wish we were having our day in a ‘traditional’ venue so that we had a planner or coordinator that could guide us, but it’s actually quite fine having to figure it out for ourselves. I have tried to get us organised by setting up a mammoth spreadsheet that accounts for just about everything, from a guestlist to contact details for suppliers aswell as a huge long list of items I’d love to purchase for decoration or try to replicate ourselves.

I’ve noticed a trend forming as I flick through this wishlist: pink, blue and green seem to be the colours we’re steering towards and I am definitely aiming to try to make a lot stuff myself. Here’s a few things that keep cropping up…

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Heart Balloons: I am determined to find a way to use these balloons. They are beyond cute and so tiny! I guess we could use them in the bar area (we are DIYing the bar so need to find things to pretty it up!) or even in the toilets. I’m trying really hard to not get too wrapped up in buying things we don’t need but I think these are too pretty to pass by.

 

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Mini Pinwheels: I love these little pinwheels so much. We are looking at ways to keep the cost down with table decorations so we won’t have any proper flower arrangements, instead I’m hoping to group jars of single stems and things like these pinwheels in the centre of each table. Simplicity at it’s best!

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Washi Tape: Because literally what can’t be transformed with washi tape!?! We actually made our first wedding purchase a few weekends ago, BnQ had a huge sale on and we managed to get 75 metres of fairy lights for £30! The only problem is that they have green wire BUT after a little googling a discovered it’s okay to wrap the wire in tape so we’re going to need ALOT of washi tape to transform them!

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Stripey bunting: What wedding is complete without bunting? I actually used to be massively ‘antii bunting’ but I’m having a little love affair with it at the moment. It really does transform a space, especially bright white marquees and village halls!

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Confetti: One of my favourite parts of any wedding day is the ‘confetti moment’. I actually love that most places won’t let you use paper anymore as petal confetti is just completely beautiful. I’ve found a few places that let you mix and match petal colours so I’m really looking forward to deciding on that this time next year!

Did you have an item that inspired your whole day? It feels weird looking at the little details when we haven’t even finalised the big ones yet but I just can’t help myself!

Our Home: Living Room Snippets

Thanks to this completely random cold snap that we’ve been experiencing lately I have found myself forced inside, and pottering around the house. I know most people embrace Spring cleaning but what with Autumn/Winter being my favourite part of the year (the weather, the celebrations and most of all the clothes!) I always get a little excited about getting the house prepped for the cooler months.

I recently switched our around our dining room and playroom, so now our living room runs straight through in to the girls play area – I made sure I had a really thorough sort out as I relocated everything!

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I sent two big black bags of books to the charity shop, I am a terrible hoarder and had books sat around that I haven’t read for 10 years – a lot of which I never enjoyed in the first place. I’ve kept all my favourites (not one J K Rowling or Ben Elton book made the donate pile) and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to part with any craft, interior or coffee table book but a hell of a lot of chick lit paperbacks have gone!

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I am so excited about being able to use our wood burner again, it really does kick out so much heat so we don’t dare put it on when it’s even a little bit warm! That owl vase in the picture on the right is one of my favourite buys ever – it was £5 in the Next sale. Amazing!

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I finally got round to framing two of my newest prints this weekend, the top one is a Charm and Gumption ‘What Would Beyonce Do?’ print. It’s probably my favourite thing in the house. And the one below was a birthday present from my parents, it’s from a stall at Spitalfields Market and is made up of tiny hearts. Next up for a reorganise was our shelves. My signed (with birthday messages!) De La Soul poster got a new frame, a tiny little budha that was once my Nanny’s is now perched on top of one of my Dad’s handmade boards and I finally opened my honeycomb ball from Blogtacular.

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Finally I added some more frames to our gallery wall. The girls now have a long frame each (I mentioned those here), and I made a little frame with some mementos from the night we got engaged. I can’t believe I put this up two years ago and I still haven’t filled two of the frames! That’s pure laziness for you!

Next up on the list for my ‘Autumnal clean’  is our newly converted dining room – time to get the paintbrush out!

Growing up in Milton Keynes

I was one of those people who whined constantly about the town they grew up in, it doesn’t help that my hometown Milton Keynes has a ‘repuatation’ as a car filled grid city (without the city status!). In hindsight I was probably a little silly complaining as there is so much to do here, it’s just finding the new time to discover it all.

Freesat have done a little research recently and have discovered that most people would love to spend their free time trying new things, so where better than Milton Keynes to start? They are setting up outside John Lewis in the Centre: MK this weekend to help people find new things to do locally, so if you’re stuck for fresh ideas pop along.

Jennifer Elworthy from Freesat says:

“We are really excited about our event at centre:mk and wanted to get to know the local people and their motivations beforehand. Discovering that residents would like to have more time to try new local activities whilst spending time with their loved ones is really encouraging and hopefully, through our event, they will discover some local treats and give them a go.

“This event ties in with our Freetime service which allows busy viewers to be able to watch, pause, rewind and record at the touch of a button, therefore never having to worry about missing their favourite shows and spending more time going out.”

Of the top of my head just some of the things I can think of in Milton Keynes are snowboarding, skiing, cycling, wakeboarding, indoor skydiving, the gallery and windsurfing… aswell as the loads of gorgeous woodland and forests near by. We also have an unbelievably good shopping centre, and a few little towns around with lovely highstreets (Stony Stratford and Olney being my favourites!) if you fancy something more low key.

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If Francesca and Georgiana ever complain about being bored growing up around here I’ll be pointing them to this post! What is there to do in your town or city?

***this is a featured post – thanks MK News for enabling us to go the cinema for the first time in 4 years!***

WEDnesday : where to start? Pinterest!

Since getting engaged in June my head has been completely and utterly filled with wedding things. In less than two months I have gone from imagining a winter wedding to opting for a late September date. Our original idea of having our big day in a barn or at a farm has switched to our local church followed by a reception at a village hall. And dreams of a quite a lux day has transformed in to something much more homely.

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It’s not that we’re sacrificing things we want, no no no… It’s just that dreaming of a wedding is something completely different to actually planning one.

I know it’s mine and Dean’s day but as I’ve said before we don’t come as a two, we are a four, and I want the girls to have the best time. I want our families to be as involved as possible, and I don’t want to dig ourselves in to a wedding money pit when actually I’d much prefer to be able to still take the girls on holiday and carry on making our house a home over the next few years.

So here we are having found a church we love and a hidden gem of venue. I would say we’re about 90% certain of these things but half the fun of this whole planning thing seems to be the searching and the discovering so I’m not chucking all my eggs in to one basket quite yet.

I am living on Pinterest at the moment, if you want to follow our pinning journey then check out the board below.

Follow Bryony’s board celebrate: our wedding on Pinterest.

Our house of bags

There will always be things I’ll never want to forget about the girls. Their quirks and obsessions are always changing and sometimes they pass without me even realising. This time a year ago Francesca was obsessed with Peppa Pig, chicken and rice, and wearing hats. Georgiana was only 8 months old so her interests were limited to Sophia le Giraffe and slices of avocado. They have both grown up a lot since then and although Peppa Pig and avocado still feature daily we’ve got a new obsession ruling the house.

 

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Bags, bags and more bags, no I didn’t set up this photo for the purpose of this post… This is literally what Fran’s room looks like at the end of the day. I’m also slightly ashamed to admit that this probably represents a third of the full collection, we also have miniature ‘bags for life’, another backpack or two and endless shoppers that seem to accumulate from nowhere!

The bag on the right once housed Easter gifts and is now a Lego transporter. I’m not sure why it’s only used for Lego but whenever I dare to peek inside I find mostly green bricks with an occasional yellow window thrown in for good measure. Next up is a bag that used to hold a book collection, now it’s home to Baby Annabelle and her ‘things’. I’m not exactly sure what things a baby doll needs but you’ll find them here. Our third bag here is pretty standard, Fran’s nursery bag containing a spare change of clothes, water bottle, a handful of unused loom bands and 3 faux gold coins. The tiny ladybird bag has recently been passed down to Georgiana, as has the tendency to store random collections so this contains a baby cardigan, 2 rice cakes, a gel pen and a bunch of key rings that I haven’t used for about 10 years.

Lastly we have the ‘magic bag’, as named by Francesca, this bag is super special because it seems to becoming something new everyday. A picnic hamper, doctors bag, dog carrier, hairdressers kit or lunch box. I’m afraid to admit it but I actually get kinda excited about what it’ll be each day.

Georgiana and Francesca don’t exactly get along most of the time so I find their shared love of all things carry-able quite sweet. I just hope it tails off by the time they discover Mulberry.

Win £250 with UKBreakaways!

I have always been a huge fan of holidaying in the UK, don’t get me wrong I love exploring new places abroad but the UK has so much to offer. Last month we spent a week in North Wales and it took me back to my caravan holidays as a child with my Grandparents. We’d collect shells on the beach, eat fish and chips on the seafront and go for long blustry walks around the cliffs. Some of my best memories are of building sandcastles with my Grandad, and playing football outside our caravan with my Great Grandma!

Now that I have children of my own the idea of keeping it reasonably local is even more appealing, no worries about bag allowances or keeping the girls entertained on long flights – we can just load the car up with all the essentials and pop our sleepy children in to their car seats. Bliss!

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UK Breakaways have launched a competition all about your fondest memories of the UK. Maybe you now take your children to your favourite childhood UK destination, or you know all the best kept secrets of one of the UK’s favourite cities? To be in with a chance of winning either £250 cash, £100 UKBreakaways holiday vouchers or £50 in UKBreakaways holiday vouchers read on…

- They want you to write a travel related post of up to 600 words telling us all about somewhere in the UK. A top 10 things to do in Edinburgh or memories of a seaside town maybe? It must be original and not published anywhere else. Make the judging panel wish they could visit straight away!

- Within the post they’d like you to mention UKBreakways and incoperate the link to the competition page (http://www.ukbreakaways.com/competition).

- Please also invite two friends to take part via a tweet, and confirm your entry by tweeting @UK_Breakaways with a link to your post.

- The competition ends on August 31st 2014 and winners will be notified by September 6th 2014.

- For full terms and conditions please see the competition page.

I am really looking forward to seeing everyone’s posts, pop me a tweet if you enter (@love_bryony) so I can have a nosey and get some ideas for our next holiday!

 

Month of… June

So here’s our VERY belated June. June was ridiculous, busy and so so so exciting.

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I turned 26 and celebrated by spending 6 hours in the car with my little family to start our holiday in Wales. We walked along miles of Welsh coast line, ate far too many fish and chips, saw jellyfish the size of Georgiana and spent evenings letting the girls dance to cheesy music!

I got to see some of my favourite people at BritMums Live but I ended up missing out on the second day because Dean surprised me with an insanely sparkly diamond ring and a very big question! I honestly never thought he’d pop the question, but we’re now in full on planning mode and are well on our way to a 2016 winter wedding. By the way – don’t you think I’ll have the CUTEST flower girls!?

We were lucky enough to have tickets to see Kings of Leon that same weekend, so we headed off to The Bowl (which luckily for us is a 5 minute drive from our front door!) and got to celebrate our engagement with lots of our friends listening to some amazing music! Lucky, lucky us… Although we didn’t feel so lucky when we woke up the next morning with a banging hangover and a 3 year old covered in fresh chicken pox! Oh well, you can’t win them all!

We finished June off by having a fantastic time with Alice and her family at Center Parcs! The kids spent 90% of the time in the pool, and Alice even snagged dinner reservations at a table that overlooked soft play so we actually got to eat our food! Amazing!

June, you were awesome! I don’t believe for a second July will have anything on you but I’m willing to give it a try!

Gruffalo Hunting at Salcey Forest

Way back in May we heard of a local Gruffalo trail. Both our girls are absolutely Gruffalo obsessed so we knew this wasn’t an opportunity to be missed! Despite the fact it had rained and rained and rained and rained during the whole week leading up to our planned day out the sun thankfully shone and we made our way to Salcey Forest. Francesca immediately spotted a sign telling us to head to the play area to begin our Gruffalo hunt and was ridiculously excited! Georgiana obviously was a little less aware but still started bouncing up and down in the pushchair as soon as she saw the beginning of the trail marked by mouse!

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The trail was super easy to follow and was littered with lots of little signs to reassure you that you’re going the right way. Soon the girls had found Fox and Owl (although Fran was a little disappointed that Owl wasn’t up in a tree!), and after some serious searching we also spied Snake!

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Once we reached the end of the trail we headed to our favourite part of Salcey Forest, the tree-top walk. You get the most gorgeous views from up there and on a clear day you can see for miles and miles. I have a bit of a fear of heights though so never ever seem to take photos as I spent the entire time clinging on to the rail with one hand and the girls with the other! The whole forest is just beautiful though and we could (and often do!) walk around hours.

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We had such a busy June that these photos feel like they were taking months and months ago! Looking through them has made me really crave a relaxed weekend like this again, I think they’re the best kind!